When Vicki met Vera
Vicki Lee is on to a winner. The singers’s The Life and Music of Vera Lynn, originally performed on Anzac Day in the Globe, not only sold out but had a reprise sell-out performance in June. What is even more special is that last month, Vicki got to meet the woman whose evocative songs she performs in the show.
Dame Vera Lynn is 98 and is still living in her own home in Sussex, England.
It was an encounter Vicki describes as ‘‘surreal’’.
‘‘We went to England to see our son in the first week of September after a trip through Eastern Europe.
‘‘I had been in touch with her daughter through Dame Malvina Major, and there was a small window of opportunity, but it happened, and it was an amazing thing to think that I’ve met this wonderful woman who represented so much to so many.’’
During World War II, for songs such as We’ll Meet Again, The White Cliffs of Dover, There’ll Always Be An England, and A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square, Dame Vera was known as ‘‘the forces’ sweetheart’’ and was
‘‘My mother loved her songs. I’m not trying to be her, I’m just an instrument bringing her songs to her audience, and throwing in a bit of history about the times.’’ Vicki Lee
named in 2000 as the person ‘‘who most represents the spirit of the last century’’.
‘‘When I got to see her I was thinking ‘Is this really true?’ It was special to spend time with her... and she is so thrilled that the music lives on and is being played to another generation, and that younger people are keeping the songs going.’’
Vicki described the singer as physically frail, slightly hard of hearing but mentally ‘with it’ and having a great sense of humour.
When she presents her show, a special feature will be a 60 second video clip she made of Dame Vera.
‘‘In it, she thanks people for keeping the music alive.’’
Vicki grew up on Dame Vera’s music.
‘‘My mother loved her songs. I’m not trying to be her, I’m just an instrument bringing her songs to her audience, and throwing in a bit of history about the times. I’m really interested in history, and the show is a story of her life and times.’’
People, she says respond with stories of their own. Through an arrangement with Rotary, Vicki intends to take Vera Lynn on the road, with as many as 40 performances around the lower North Island. The proceeds will be going to Rotary’s youth leadership projects.
Vicki gives two performances of The Life and Music of Vera Lynn in Globe 2 on Sunday November 1 at 2.30pm and 7pm. The shows include a cup of tea and a Anzac biscuit, and there’ll be a chance to reminisce, with Vicki sharing stories and memories that people have passed on about their own wartime experiences.
Bookings for the two performances of The Life and Music of Vera Lynn are at the Globe, 351 4409 and online.