Many years ago, when I was struggling to make a living as an actor–singer in England, I spent six months in the chorus at the London Palladium, in a show breezily titled Let Yourself Go, whose star was former Goon Harry Secombe. It was hard work: two performances nightly, plus a matinee on Saturday. Years later, I realised that this demanding regimen was inherited from the days of music hall, when it was morphing into what was called variety, of which Let Yourself Go was a latter-day example.
Cabbages and peas
My Old Man: A Personal History of Music Hall
by John Major
HarperCollins, $45 hb, 404 pp, 9780007450138
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John Rickard is the author of Australia: A Cultural History (2017). In his youth he worked as an actor and singer.
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