Pantomime - 1978 Liverpool
At the Liverpool Empire, with Cilla Black, George Roper and the Smurfs
Dec 22nd - 23rd 7:00
Dec 26th - Jan 7th 2:15 and 7:00
Jan 8th - Feb 4th 2:15 (Tues, Weds, Sat) and 7:00
Town Crier - Charlie Gray
Scene 7 - Port of London
During her fifteen busy and highly successful years as a top international entertainer, Cilia Black has given concert, cabaret and television performances in hundreds of cities around the world.
She has spent summer seasons in her own spectacular stage shows at Blackpool, Scarborough, Eastbourne and, most recently, Torquay.
Her next sixteen-week seaside season will be at Bournemouth's Winter Gardens Theatre where she is scheduled to open in the first half of June, 1979. She has headlined in long-running revue productions like "Way Out In Piccadilly" and "Cilia At The Palace" in London's West End. She has starred in three London Palladium seasons.
Yet, curiously, "Dick Whittington" has brought her home to Liverpool for the first time in her professional career-until now she has never played a hometown season and her only local appearances were for one-night-stand pop concerts in the early days. The last time she had steady work in Liverpool, her tools consisted of a typewriter and a secretary's shorthand note-book rather than a microphone and a star's wardrobe of splendid gowns.
"Mind you, this doesn't mean I'm unused to having Liverpudlians in my audiences," says Cilia, " I've come across Liverpudlians in the most unexpected places on my travels. I don't care how far you go to far-flung territories overseas, you'll always come across a few mates from the 'Pool in your average club or theatre crowd. Sometimes I find that they've been away from Merseyside for twenty or thirty years, raised whole new genera-tions of kids on the far side of the earth, but they retain the fondest memories of their hometown days.
"I don't feel like an exile in the way that some of those people do. I have a Liverpudlian husband, most of my close friends were born and raised up here and a whole lot of relatives who are only too willing to tell me all the news and gossip every time we get together. What with all that and "Match Of The Day," too, we manage to stay in pretty close touch with everything which goes on!
"Joking apart, I have to admit that I've been looking forward to spending this pantomime season in Liverpool and I'm enjoying every minute of my time here!
"I think the kids are finding it all a bit confusing. Robert and Ben aren't used to hearing all these people who speak just like Mummy and Daddy!"
Before heading for Liverpool and the first "Dick Whittington" rehearsals a fortnight before Christmas, Cilia had filled her 1978 engagement diary with a wide range of activities.
At this time last year she was getting her breath back after two months of appearances in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Australia and New Zealand.
The first months of 1978 were spent in the recording studios with producer Mike Hurst. She was completing her first new LP record for two years. Entitled "Modern Priscilla," the album was released by EMI Records in June. During the year, Cilia made two one-hour "Specials" for Thames Television. The first was made in March and screened on the ITV network two months later. The second was completed immediately prior to the start of "Dick Whittington" rehearsals.
Before her summer season - a record breaker at Torquay's Princess Theatre - Cilia visited Scotland for a short series of five concerts.
It remains impossible for Cilia to sing before a theatre audience ora television camera without treating her viewers to a nostalgic sample of her earliest hits. Her substantial success as a recording artiste began in September, 1963, with the release of a custom-penned Lennon-McCartney composition called "Love Of The Loved."
Her biggest initial chart triumphs were with "Anyone Who Had A Heart," "You're My World," "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'," "Alfie," "Step Inside Love," and "Something Tells Me." These have been followed by equally memorable numbers which have established themselves as firm favourites in her repertoire - much requested stage and television items like "Liver-pool Lullaby." "Me And The Elephant," "Silly Boy" and "Sing A Rainbow."
Cannon and Ball
Comedy duo Cannon and Ball are well named, because Tommy Cannon provides the fire-power in their act, while Bobby Ball supplies the comedy ammunition. The two-some also have a secret weapon with their catchphrase "Rock On, Tommy."
They began as the singing Harper Brothers, but for the last nine years have built up a terrific following in clubs and theatres all over the country as Cannon and Ball. They could be described as the classic partnership, because Ball has a natural flair for comedy, and his spontaneity is spiked by the straight-faced Cannon.
They first met as workmates in a Lancashire factory, and after forming a singing duo found that they had a unique comedy rapport.
Soon they were doing so well in northern clubs that they gave up their day-time jobs, and it wasn't long before their popularity spread to the whole country.
After a long, hard apprenticeship in clubs and theatres, Cannon and Ball are now destined to be dubbed "overnight stars" - an accolade which belies the huge popularity they have built-up as live entertainers.
They have toured Australia and South Africa and their club and theatre dates are frequently booked months in advance.
Tipped as the TV comedy "finds" of the year, both Tommy and Bobby are happily married and live close to each other in Oldham. Their off-stage interests are remarkably similar (both are keep-fit addicts) and so are their ambitions. They want to establish themselves as Britain's top comedy duo - something which is now well within their grasp.
Liverpool comedy star and one of the original stars of "The Comedians," that very successful comedy show on Granada Television. George, who has been in Clubland now for some years, has worked all the major venues throughout the country and has appeared on a number of TV shows including "Wheel-tappers And Shunters" and "Seaside Special." A very funny and likeable comedian, George Roper, of "wellie" fame, will, I am sure, delight audiences for many years to come.
The fairytale world of the Smurfs is here to stay. "The Smurf Song" proved to be as big a hit here as it has been on the Continent where it has sold nearly two million copies and their follow-up, "Dippety Day" was also a big international hit.
The success of the records in Britain follows a remarkable series of successes on the Continent.
The Smurfs, comic-strip characters created by cartoonist Pierre Peyo Culli-ford, had their own song written for them by Dutch composer Pierre Kartner. Pierre was already a successful performer working with the stage name of "Father Abraham," and so he recorded "The Smurf Song" and released it in Holland.
The result was staggering for such a small market. The single was No. 1 for seven weeks, selling over 500,000 copies. Following this, an LP was recorded and within two weeks 250,000 copies were sold. Shortly afterwards, Father Abraham recorded a German version and it went to No. 1 there as well, being certified platinum (a million sales) on 30th May.
French, Spanish, Swedish, Portuguese and Japanese versions have also been recorded.
Diana Kirkwood (Fairy)
Diana was a member of the group called the Wedge-woods for 18 months and during that time she toured Great Britain extensively. She left the group in 1974 and since then she has appeared throughout Britain in most major club venues, with people such as Bruce Forsyth, Roy Castle, Brotherhood of Man, Stan Kenton, Tommy Cooper, Ken Dodd and the London Palladium with Jim Bailey.
She has made TV appearances in "The Vera Lynn Show," "Wheeltappers," "Pebble Mill At One." Also "Stars On Sunday" and several programmes for Grampian TV.
Her Radio shows have included "The John Dunn Show," "Charlie Chester Show," "Teddy Johnson Show." and "Late Night Line Up" with the BBC Radio Orchestras.
Diana has also played Principal Girl in "Aladdin" and Principal Girl in "Robin Hood" and appeared in Summer Season at Scarborough.
Hugo Myatt (King Rat)
Alita Petrof (Tommy the Cat)
John McCombe (Alderman Fitzwarren)
Directed by DENNIS CHRITCHLEY
Choreography MAVIS TABERNER
Musical Director JOHN HAWKINS
Company Manager and Stage Director MARC ASHLEY
Wardrobe Mistress GRACE HEINIGER
Presented for Kennedy Street Enterprises Limited by DANNY BETESH
Press and Publicity CLIFFORD ELSON, 01-437 4822 (01-499 7878)
Press Representation of Cilia Black by TONY BARROW INTERNATIONAL (01-546 5947)
Special material for Cilia Black written by MICHAEL HURLL
Musical Director for Cilia Black: JOHN HAWKINS
Miss Black's costumes designed by LINDA MARTIN