IF I CATCH ALPHONSO, TONIGHT!
“There is no doubt about it, variety is coming back to Eastbourne”, said Billy Merson at the Royal Hippodrome on Monday evening at the close of his brilliant and amusing turn. “I am delighted to see these large audiences tonight and I thank you for your most kind reception. This is only my second visit to Eastbourne, but I assure you that I should have been here many more times had I known how warm hearted you are.”
~ The Eastbourne Gazette, February 1938 ~
Eighty years on, Billy Merson takes to the Eastbourne stage again in a new musical play “If I Catch Alphonso, Tonight!”, which recalls the life of this famous music hall star and contains extracts from sixteen of his comic songs. It will be performed at the Lamb Theatre, High Street, Old Town between 9 – 12 May nightly at 7.30 p.m. with an additional performance at 2.30 p.m. on Saturday . The play was written by Miles Jenner, who takes on the role of Billy Merson. He is accompanied by Roger Roser on the piano.
Billy Merson (1881 – 1947) commenced his theatrical career as an acrobat and circus clown before going solo as a comedian. He composed and performed many songs, including ‘The Spaniard that Blighted my Life’. He first sang it in pantomime at Brighton and it played a very significant part in his fortunes thereafter. He took London Music Halls by storm in 1909, before going on to perform in revue, musical comedies, theatre and cinema. He is credited with having made the first British ‘talking picture’ in 1926. Having reached the top of his profession, circumstances conspired against him and he returned to variety work, appearing at Bexhill, Brighton, Eastbourne and Hastings during the 1930’s.
It is the story of a man who constantly found himself on the ropes but always bounced back with humour. A born entertainer he was the inspiration for future generations of comedians and his legacy lives on.
9 May – 12 May, 2018
at The Lamb Theatre,
Eastbourne, BN21 1HH
Call 01323 479732