Laurel and Hardy Live on Stage In Color

From YouTube… L&H start a little under a minute in.

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Blockheads – The Laurel And Hardy Musical

A minute ago, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you when I saw Blockheads at the Mermaid Theater, London. A quick search of the ‘net, however, revealed that the play ran in 1984.

I’m guessing that Blockheads was not terribly successful, since it seems to have run for a total of only 17 days. And I’m guessing it’s not terribly well-known, since a Google search turns up nearly nothing about it. I was lucky to see it; lucky to be in the right place at the right time.

As I recall, the show was set ‘backstage’ during one of Laurel and Hardy’s British tours, which places the action in the late 40’s or early 50’s.

You can get a sense of the plot from the song titles, the first of which is Have We Still Got It, sung by Laurel and Hardy. Then we flash back to the early days.

Stan sings a number called Playin’ The Halls and then sings Star Quality with his father, who had been a vaudeville comic in his own right. A number titled Is This Where The Rainbow Ends? is sung by “Hardy and Minstrels.” Laurel sings Goodbye Mae, presumably to his vaudeville partner and common-law wife Mae Dahlberg at the moment Stan decides to break up the act and try his hand at movies.

Any full-fledged L&H fan will smile at the cast members who sing a song called Timing - Hardy, Finlayson, and Hall. And perhaps some Laurel and Hardy fan more fully-fledged than I can decipher the meaning of a number in Act II sung by “Laurel, Hardy, and Finlayson” that’s titled G.A.

I remember the show with great fondness. The music was fun, and the Laurel and Hardy history was on-target, if the spelling occasionally was not: a song in Act I titled Rumons From Rome [sic] is sung by The Stan Laurel Trio.

Staging costs were kept to a minimum: the roles of Stan’s Father, The Chef, Joe Rock, Hal Roach, and The Phantom of the Opera were all played by Larry Dann. Simon Browne played James Finlayson, a cameraman, a Keystone Cop, and Mr. Lubin.

The two stars looked – and acted – in an authentic, believable and sympathetic manner.

Mark Hadfield played Stan Laurel. He later joined the Royal Shakespeare Company and has had a distinguished career in the years that followed Blockheads.

Kenneth H. Waller played Oliver Hardy. Prior to Blockheads, he appeared in Onward Victoria, which opened at the Martin Beck Theater in New York City on December 14, 1980, and closed at the Martin Beck on December 14, 1980; thus making Blockheads the more successful of the two productions.

For years, I used to walk into record stores hoping to find an original cast album. I’ve finally given up on that dream. There was no album, and there are no record stores.

Anybody else remember Blockheads the musical? Anybody want to stage a revival at a Sons Of The Desert Convention?

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