Starring Maureen Lipman with Denis King at the piano

Written by James Roose-Evans and Maureen Lipman, adapted from the works of Joyce Grenfell; music by Richard Addinsell

Premiere: 14th Sept. 1988, Fortune Theatre, London

First Performance at the Vaudeville Theatre 19th Sept. 1989;

American Premiere 12, Jan 1990, Long Wharf Theatre, New Haven CT; National Tour; numerous fund-raising performances for charity throughout the UK.

Producer: Michael Codron
Assoc. Producer: David Sutton
Director: Alan Strachan
Set: Peter Rice
Costumes: Ben Frow
Lighting: Adam Grater
Movement: Geraldine Stephenson
Kings Comment


Original Cast Recording: Recorded at CTS Studios, Wembley. May 1989 for Legacy Records Ltd; Produced by Alan Strachan and Denis King; engineer, Dick Lewzey.

BBC video recording 1991. Available on DVD.


Even though she was a close friend, when Maureen Lipman asked me to accompany her in her new one woman show, I said “no”, automatically. Having spent most of my early years performing, the thought of being back onstage at a piano singing and smiling had about as much appeal as swimming in the North Sea all year round.

Which in fact I do, so forget I said that. I simply didn’t wish to go back onstage, period. My wife, Astrid, then went to see the out of town try-out in Farnham, down in Surrey.

“It’s wonderful!” she said when she got back. “And so’s Maureen. It’s a great piece of theatre. It would suit you perfectly. You should have done it,” she added, followed by a familiar and rather scornful look which I refer to as the “Silent ‘Asshole'!" and which my wife in fact invented, and which I in fact tend to be the sole recipient of.

Therefore. When producer Michael Codron decided to bring “Re:Joyce!” into the West End but wanted to replace the accompanist, and again I was asked, this time by both Michael and Maureen, I didn’t say “no” automatically, I said I’d consider it.

They seemed quite keen for me to do it. The phone would ring, Astrid would answer.
     “Has he decided yet?”

“It’s for you!” she’d yell.

      Apart from standing in a downpour holding a golf umbrella over the rooftop barbecue while our Thanksgiving turkey sizzled away, I’d never felt quite so indispensible before, and the longer I took to make up my mind, the more determined everyone seemed to be to get me on board. The producer, the director, Maureen, her husband Jack, Astrid, even Steve Conroy the electrician doing our dimmers and who we hardly knew but who also worked for Maureen said I should do it.

So I said yes. Astrid hugged and kissed me, Alex our eighteen-month-old waved his rattle, and we all celebrated with Jack’s homemade fishballs in the Rosenthal kitchen.

And, gradually, the more I thought about it, the more the idea of a limited run onstage with a chum sounded fun. Michael Codron had some budget issues with my costume, and he was making me shave my beard off for the role--much to my mother’s delight, who loathed it, and was more excited about seeing my chin again than my being with Maureen in the West End--but what the hell, I thought, that could grow back! After all, my role was only to sit at a grand piano onstage in a dinner jacket, accompany Maureen, and sing and play various characters in Joyce Grenfell’s life. Why, I could do that, I’d been performing since I was six! On top of which I’d get to be entertained by Maureen for two hours every night! Astrid was right (as usual)! It was all going to suit me perfectly and I was going to have an absolutely wonderful time!

It never for one second entered my mind that the show would be so successful, that a short run would become a long run, and that what with transfers, tours, TV, an American production and countless charity performances, twelve weeks would turn into just over three years. Or that long runs can generate some unforeseen problems, a story I’ll leave for another time.

Why Maureen was never considered for an Olivier Award for her magnificent portrayal of Joyce Grenfell is beyond my comprehension, not to mention one of the great injustices of British theatrical history. Denis King

Fact of the Day
In the early 60s a young unknown band called The Beatles came to see The King Bros at the Liverpool Empire, asked for their autographs, and invited them to a party, which Denis couldn't be bothered to attend and is still kicking himself.
Listening Post
What Have They Done To My Home Town