A few days ago we returned to the town of my birth – the careworn but wonderfully characterful channel port of Folkestone. Strolling along the cliff-top I spied the familiar sight of a truck loading equipment and scenery at the local theatre.
The load-in we witnessed was it transpired for a touring production of Aida being staged my old friend the opera producer Ellen Kent. The crew, who were having a cup of tea and a sarnie in the back of the truck, seemed decidedly bashful when we took a snap of an exotic prop being “rested” before making the journey into the theatre. I couldn’t help thinking that their reticent behaviour was completely unlike their flamboyant boss. A larger than life character, Ellen used to regularly contact me during my days as an Arts and Entertainments editor to regale me with astonishing tales of her latest venture.
In those balmy pre credit-crunch days her touring shows invariably displayed a headline-catching gimmick or three. She seemed to have a positive menagerie of live animals and birds taking part in her productions and there were also naked women, dancing fountains, walls of flame and various death-defying stunts.