I’m Gertie and I’m Elsie... Clutterbuck, they chorused, introducing a full house at Moulton to the world of music hall.
Gertie and Elsie – alias mum and daughter team Anne Temple and Jules Jones – sang the 1897 She’d Never Been There Before (but now she’s going there every night) as an introduction to St Nicolas Players’ Music Hall Memories on Friday and Saturday.
“We came out on to the stage pretending to be cleaning the stage,” says Jules, “and then the chairman says, ‘You can’t clean now, there’s a show going on,’ and so we sang Never Been There Before.
“It’s about people who say they have never done something and end up doing it a lot.”
And Anne and Jules are hoping that St Nicolas Players – and South Holland audiences – will be keen to do music hall a lot in future after last weekend’s successful shows.
Music hall is a passion with the pair of them, and one they brought with them when they moved to the area about seven years ago. Jules, who lives in Whaplode Drove with husband Martin and their three children, admits it was cheap house prices – and the fact that her brother lives in Spalding – that convinced her to make the move.
Jules then found the perfect house in Weston for her parents and they too moved to South Holland.
“I have always loved music hall,” says Anne, who remembers her parents bringing home song sheets from nights out at the Unity Theatre in London and the whole family joining in the songs the following day.
“Years ago even if people could read they couldn’t necessarily afford a newspaper and these songs were telling people what was going on in the world.
“Music hall lasted about 100 years and it was the television that killed it off completely.
“I don’t think these songs should be forgotten. You can learn a lot of social history through them.”
Anne has played her part in keeping the old music hall songs alive. She is a member of the British Music Society and put on musicals for a local drama group before forming her own group, Good Turns, when she was living in Surrey.
As part of that, she made costumes, produced, directed and researched music and stories for productions, husband John acting as roadie and finally joining in the songs.
Finding the right pianists was critical to being able to put on music hall locally, says Jules, because much of the music is remembered rather than written down. Thankfully, Jacqueline Kemp and Liz Mackay came forward and were able to re-jig music after listening to the songs.
The two evenings at Moulton Community Hall were a “triumph” with about 150 people singing along to lyrics written in the Victorian and Edwardian days.