Review – Fascinating Aida, Jermyn Street Theatre

Thursday 22 May 2008

Fascinating Aida flyerPhil was having one of his republican days.

No, not that kind of Republican: say “McCain” and Phil thinks “oven chips”; say “Bush” and Phil thinks, well, not much really.

No, “republican” as in “not that struck on the monarchy”.

Now do not be dismayed at this rather late excursion into anarchy: it will all be over by tomorrow. Sharper-eyed denizens of Kentish Town may catch him fishing his collection of Princess Anne & Captain Mark Phillips wedding knick-knacks out of his dustbin in order to restore them to their pride of place on his mantelpiece.

Isn\'t it lovely?

Heaven only knows what set him off but when Andrew discovered that Her Royal Highness Princess Michael of Kent was going to be in the Jermyn Street Theatre audience last night he thought he had better not take any chances and invited Oliver and Mark to join him instead.

This is Fascinating Aida‘s Silver Jubilee Concert. Regrettably there seems to be no souvenir mug to accompany the occasion (which is what every child under 15 received from the Queen to celebrate her Silver Jubilee in 1977). Cheapskates.

No, for the undisputed royalty of the cabaret circuit it’s a much more modest celebration – two weeks at the Jermyn Street Theatre (patron: Her Royal Highness Princess Michael of Kent, right) and – predictably – pretty much sold out already.

So it would be cruel to taunt you by saying that it’s a fantastic show.

But it is.

Andrew was worried that it might seem a bit “done” but not a bit of it. There is lots of new stuff including a series of very short songs based on the Bulgarian folk tradition (“but no number six for obvious historical reasons”).

Fascinating Aida are (in case you are from another planet) Dillie Keane (25 years’ service), Adèle Anderson (24 years’ service and reluctant friend to the Whingers) and Liza Pulman (4 years’ service). They sing satirical songs, mostly with a distinctly English and middle class bent to them. On this occasion Ms Keane is also MD due to the untimely death of Russell Churney (below) last year.

The songs includes reflections on reincarnation, global warming, celebrity and the Health & Safety Executive. There are also a few “serious” songs which were amazingly moving – especially given the mayhem going on before and after them.

Andrew – who can sit stoney faced through anything that’s supposed to be funny if he puts his mind to it – was almost on the point of falling off his seat at Dillie’s song about dogging.

Yes, a lot of it was really rather ri squé, including a reference to wanting to sleep with Prince Harry. But if HRHPMOK and her enormous entourage (including hubby HRHPMOK, left) were at all shocked, you couldn’t tell. Presumably they weren’t because when Adèle turned up as arranged at the pub after the show she reported that Dillie had been whisked off to Kensington Palace for dinner. Adèle made a good show of trying not to look too glum at having passed up a glamorous dinner with royalty to fulfil a rash promise to have a pint with a West End Whinger in The Three Crowns. What a trouper.

Andrew’s plan to mingle with royalty* unfortunately came to nothing; despite him hanging around outside the theatre during the interval, Princess Michael didn’t step out for a quick fag. He did, however, exchange words with her:

Andrew: After you!

HRHPMOK: I’m going the other way, actually.

But she did look impressed with his involuntary curtsey.

Anyway, in case you can’t get a ticket, here’s Fascinating Aida’s most famous song**. Even Oliver (a German) was forced to admit that “it’s true”.

* Footnote for Americans: Prince Michael of Kent’s father, Prince George, Duke of Kent, was the fourth son of King George V and his mother, Princess Marina, was the daughter of Prince Nicholas of Greece and of Grand Duchess Helen Vladimirovna of Russia. Prince Michael is therefore cousin of both the Queen and her husband the Duke of Edinburgh.

Not sure why she is called Michael too. Before her marriage she was plain old Austrian Baroness Marie-Christine von Reibnitz, daughter of Baron von Reibnitz and the former Countess Marianne Szapary.

** Footnote for pedants: Yes, since this video was made they have changed the lyrics regarding Lotte Lenya’s nationality. We hope you are happy with yourselves.

7 Responses to “Review – Fascinating Aida, Jermyn Street Theatre”

  1. she with he of Xanadu on stage seating Says:

    I had the misfortune to sit next to HRH Princess M of K during a rather tedious Pirandello at the Almeida once and spent the entire performance being distracted by her inability to stop fidgeting with the gold chain handles of her handbag. I was well brought up so the citizens of Islington were spared the headline “minor royal strangled at local theatre by not very well brought up theatre-goer”.

    The Duke of Kent(*) is another matter, I sat next to him at a performance of South Pacific at the National, and would certainly recommend him as a seating companion; not a single fidget throughout the whole performance, (but he may very well have been asleep).

    (*) The present Duke Edward of Kent, older brother of Prince Michael of Kent, not to be confused with George, Duke of Kent (see above) who died in 1942 and as far as I know, may very well have fidgeted during all sorts of events.

  2. As I’ve said elsewhere, the Aidas will be appearing at a celebration of the lovely Russell on June 29 – details and tickets at

  3. Graham Says:

    You might well have had HRHPMOK, but when I went to see this last week I was sitting just along the row from Jane of ‘Rod, Jane and Freddy’. And you don’t get more ‘TV royalty’ than that. The show was fabulous of course.

  4. Graham – I beg to differ re: TV Royalty. At the Jermyn Street Theatre I once sat a few seats behind Bella Emberg. So there.

  5. Mark I Says:

    … and don’t for get (Andrew), that the same night Bella was in, we were also sat in front of Barbara Windsor – who was identified by daveonthego in the first act by her laugh alone – he’d make a good birdwatcher!

  6. J.A. Says:

    Rod Jane and Freddy appear to be quite the theatre goers. They were at a Lord of the Rings preview…and seemed to be enjoying it!

  7. Ricky Says:

    I also recall the Babs/Bella excitement. I was sat behind Babs, who had had an extraordinary amount of nylon in her head, apparently they go by the name of extensions. I commented on her hair, she said she’d had it done cos it had been getting a bit thin. She had enough hair for 10 women glued to her bonce.

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