Sunshine comes to Richmond Theatre as comic icon celebrated in new play


West end hit Morecambe is embarking on a new tour.


By Ellie Pipe

Richmond theatre-goers are in for a treat as Morecambe comes to town for one night only on March 30.

Marking 30 years since the death of the comic hero, the award-winning West End play is back to tour the UK.

The play, written by Tim Whitnall, proved a storming success at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2009 before going on tour in 2010. Bob Golding, who plays the lead role of Eric Morecambe, is excited to be back.

“It has been two years since I last performed the play,” said Golding, who won an Olivier Award for his portrayal of the comedian.

“It has a new energy and drive now.”

Golding explained how he had long wanted to do a one-man show, and it was his friend Whitnall who suggested Morecambe.

The biggest challenge was mastering a one hour 40 minute monologue – as well as performing in front of comedy legends such as Ronnie Corbett, who was so impressed he urged Eric’s wife Joan to go along and see it.

Eric’s family have lent their full support to the new tour – with his son Gary Morecambe joining the show as associate producer.

He admits to being apprehensive before first seeing the show as he can be a little ‘spiky’ about these things, but added that his family have now seen it many times and count Golding as a family friend.

“It is based on facts and it has worked,” said Morecambe.

The play tells the story of Eric Morecambe, from his humble beginnings in Music Hall to receiving 28 million viewers on Christmas Day in 1977.

In the show, Golding plays all characters, including Eric’s mother Sadie. Ernie, the other half of Morecambe and Wise, is played by ventriloquist dummy so the famous double act remains centre stage even in a one-man show.

“Biopic plays are often interesting because they show the dark side of a comic,” said Golding.

“But in Morecambe’s case it is very refreshing because it is very light. If he had a dark side, it was just his obsession to get comedy right.”

Will the Morecambe and Wise brand of wholesome family comedy keep appealing to audiences? Both Morecambe and Golding believe so.

“I’m astounded by how many younger generations have loved the show. I’ve also seen a lot of people come out crying, perhaps because it brings a certain nostalgia and memories of childhood,” said Morecambe.

Golding believes that the Morecambe and Wise show was an important landmark on this country’s way of viewing comedy.

“They gave people a chance to laugh in the face of adversity,” said Golding.

With rehearsals for the 2014 tour soon to start, Golding needs to get back into playing Eric Morecambe, an all-encompassing task. Although he claims he is not really a dancer, Golding said there will be some choreography in this tour under the direction of Paul Hendy.

The first act focuses on telling the audience what they didn’t know, but fans will be delighted to hear that classics, including ‘bring me sunshine’ will be performed.

“Stylistically speaking, it is the same script but with new energy,” said Golding of the upcoming tour.

“Essentially the same play about the best comic ever.”

Morecambe will be at the Richmond Theatre on Sunday March 30.

Photo courtesy of Ingy The Wingy, with thanks.

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