Jimmy Cricket’s appearance in a family entertainment extravaganza at the Royal Hippodrome Theatre in Eastbourne, East Sussex, this summer has hit the headlines.
The loveable Irish comedian features in two big stories about the show.
One is on the Eastbourne Herald website and here is an excerpt from the article:
Over the last few years Eastbourne has begun to finally shake free of its historic tag as a pensioner’s paradise but this summer one corner of the Sunshine Coast will be proudly plonking itself well and truly inside a time warp.
Having opened way back in 1883, the Royal Hippodrome Theatre has played host to stars of the stage as diverse as Peter Sellers, Ken Dodd, Vera Lynn and even escape artists extraordinaire Harry Houdini.
But despite surviving an unfair roasting from Sir Bruce Forsyth, who publicly laid into the venue’s facilities during an interview – he was starring at the Hippodrome when he was called up to compere at the London Palladium – the much-loved theatre has fallen on hard times.
Where once it staged regular shows, attracting sell-out crowds of more than 1,000 all year round, now the bill is limited to the summer months and played out in front of audiences which are often far more modest.
This summer though, the powers that be are hoping for a return to the halcyon days of yesteryear as the venue once again gears up for its summer variety show – the longest running of its type anywhere in the UK.
A Sentimental Journey kicks off on May 1 and runs all the way up until the end of September and boasts an array of acts ready to tread the boards in what promises to be a fun-filled and nostalgia twinged trip back to the 1950s and 60s – a time when variety ruled the world and places like the Hippodrome attracted the biggest stars in the businesses.
The line-up includes a Billy Fury tribute act who blossomed after an appearance on hit TV show Stars in Their Eyes and a team of show time dancers who will no doubt high kick their way through some of the popular numbers from yesteryear.
Comperes Barry Moon and Mike Lee will keep things ticking over with their mix of conversation and comedy while Tracey Lea appears as the much-loved Connie Francis.
Top of the bill and very much the main attraction though is a man perhaps best known for his letters from his mammy and an inability to tell his left from his right.
Jimmy Cricket has been charming crowds since first stepping onto a Butlins stage as a 18-year-old red coat back in 1966. England may have been winning the World Cup, but over the sea in the small Irish town of Mosney a young comic was developing a winning formula which would carry him through the next four decades and see him leave an indelible print on the comedy consciousness of all who saw him.
And Jimmy is also mentioned prominently in a feature on Whatsonstage.com, which says it is “Britain’s biggest and best theatre and performing arts website”.
The story is about Eastbourne’s Royal Hippodrome opening its doors again May with a five-month run of a new summer season show called Sentimental Journey – in which Jimmy will be starring.
Here is a section from the story:
The summer show, which is being produced to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee year, is a family variety show appropriately called Sentimental Journey. This will take you on a journey back to the time of the coronation (1953) with Stars in Their Eyes contestants Colin Gold as Billy Fury and Tracy Lea, as Connie Francis. The show will also have its own Show Time Dancers and alternating compères Barry Moon and Mike Lee. Headlining is a man who has been described as “one of the greatest front of tabs comedians” and family favourite, Jimmy Cricket.
I had an opportunity to talk to Jimmy about the show and the theatre in which it plays.
“This is the Cinderella theatre in Eastbourne and the fact that it could have closed makes me weep. I’ve gone out on a limb sometimes, when I see other theatres closing, and I have had irate letters back from some councillors asking why I am butting in, but I can’t just stand by and watch them go under.
“I was here three or four years ago. I stood in for Syd Little for a few nights in the summer when he had other commitments, and when I had the greasepaint on and I got the smell of the theatre in my nostrils I knew I wanted to come back. It’s wonderful to be here for a real summer season, with a time-honoured and classic variety show.”
Photos on this page supplied by Peter Gurr