Tuesday, 17 July 2018

A little bit of sauce is variety of life (missus)

MISS Helen Watson has one answer when asked what her variety show costume is like this year.

MISS Helen Watson has one answer when asked what her variety show costume is like this year.

“Low-cut, as usual,” she says, without missing a beat. “My bosoms do play rather a major part in my act.”

The saucy actress is appearing in her 26th year of music hall entertainment at the Watermill Theatre from the end of this month, in an evening of entertainment which she says is a kind of cross between a sketch show and comedy revue — with plenty of songs the audience can join in with. She writes her own material for Seasonal Sauce and directs the cast herself, and says although there is plenty of double entendres the material is all good clean fun.

“It’s clean when it leaves the stage,” she says. “We don’t do what a lot of modern comics do, using foul language and so on. We’re not blue, but the double entendres are there, and it’s all in the mind of the audience.”

Nevertheless, the show does have the added benefit of her risqué costumes to chivvy the entertainment along — a fact that has not gone unnoticed among her male fans.

She said: “My partner Chris was sitting in the slips one night and a guy sitting next to him got chatting and said, ‘These are the best seats, aren’t they? You’ll see what I mean when she comes on in a minute. You get a great view.’

“Chris didn’t let on that he was my partner, of course. Then when I came on stage this great shriek sounded from above, and I looked up and saw them looking down at me. I raised my arms out from my side and said, ‘Go on, jump! I guarantee a soft landing!’”

Helen Watson says she was probably “born in the wrong era” as she has always loved music hall, such as the music of Marie Lloyd, and although she has played many different parts on stage and screen it is this genre that she comes back to every year.

She started her music hall career in the late Seventies touring all over the UK with a variety show, and doing seasons at the Players’ Theatre underneath the arches in Villiers Street, at London’s Charing Cross.

She has worked with some of the greatest vaudeville actors on the scene, including Danny La Rue, the late Leslie Crowther and Clive Dunn, and the queen of innuendo herself, Barbara Windsor.

She has also worked with Leonard Sachs, the man who played the chairman on the BBC music hall favourite, The Good Old Days, which was so popular that it ran for more than 30 years on television, from the Fifties to the Eighties.

These days, Helen Watson has honed her act to appeal to modern-day audiences, and provides a variety show including skits, such as The Sound Of Nuns On RollerSkates (a skit on The Sound Of Music) and modern-day satire, including a sketch poking fun at Meryl Streep’s film incarnation as Margaret Thatcher

Her latest show, which opens at the Watermill on January 30, includes numbers that the audience can sing along to, including Somewhere Over The Rainbow, I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside and Daisy, Daisy, led by members of her eight-strong cast.

She said: “People do get involved and I usually get a couple of gentlemen up on stage. I have so many happy memories of being at the Watermill. I remember in the early years, when huge parties all dressed up in period costume. There have been some people — and I don’t mean actors — who have been totally outrageous. There have been one or two gentlemen up on stage who tried to pick me up, or squeezed me. And there was one man who insisted on staring at my bosom, even though I was imploring him to look into my eyes, telling him, ‘My eyes are up here!’ It’s the audience that makes our show. We need them as much as they need us.”

This final season of Seasonal Sauce includes two special performances — a Top Hats and Tiaras gala night on Friday, February 1 when the audience is invited to dress up in period clothes, and a Mulled Wine and Mingle evening on Friday, February 8 when audience members can meet the cast.

Seasonal Sauce runs from Wednesday, January 30 to Saturday, February 9. Tickets from the box office on 01645 46044 or from www.watermill.org.uk

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