THE ARTS

Comic trav­els down mem­ory lane in show

Evening Express (City Final) - The Guide - - LET’S PARTY - By Lau­rna Robert­son

Fun­ny­man Lenny Henry set for Aberdeen gig

ALL Lenny Henry wanted af­ter a tough cou­ple of years in his pri­vate life was to do a stand-up show that wasn't per­sonal. Af­ter con­sid­er­ing dif­fer­ent op­tions, he came up with the idea of a com­edy show about one of his big­gest pas­sions – mu­sic. How­ever, he quickly re­alised that there was no way to spot­light the sub­ject with­out link­ing it to his past. Lenny is look­ing for­ward to bring­ing his pro­foundly per­sonal show “Cra­dle To Rave: A Mu­si­cal Jour­ney” to Aberdeen later this month, de­spite the fact his co-stars on The Ma­gi­cians, Barry Jones and Stu­art Ma­cleod, failed to give him any tips on the Gran­ite City. The 52-year-old ac­tor, writer, co­me­dian and TV pre­sen­ter said: “The last cou­ple of years have been, shall we say, weird for me and with this show I re­ally didn't want to talk about any­thing too per­sonal but that’s not the way it’s turned out. “I started off re­search­ing the his­tory of mu­sic but I was quickly told that I had to talk about what kind of mu­sic I lis­tened to when I was grow­ing up, what kind of mu­sic has in­flu­enced me and what kind of mu­sic my fam­ily liked. “I re­alised you can talk about ev­ery­thing and tie it into your love of mu­sic, so the show comes from a very strong se­cure place. “It’s an au­to­bi­o­graph­i­cal stand-up show with mu­sic and a band-shaped sur­prise. I may even do a lit­tle singing too.” Lenny is bring­ing the show to the Mu­sic Hall on April 19. And while he thought the North-east ma­gi­cians Barry and Stu­art were great to work with, they failed to share any tips about their home ter­ri­tory. “Sadly, I didn't get any tips from Barry and Stu­art about Aberdeen even though it is their neck of the woods,” he said. “Since the show I’ve not heard a peep out of them. “They’re like the pre­fects at Hog­warts that no­body talks about – they’re def­i­nitely the macabre pre­fects at Slytherin.” Be­ing asked to present The Ma­gi­cians was a blast from the past for Lenny. He ex­plained: “Early on in my ca­reer I worked with Paul Daniels and I was fas­ci­nated by the sheer skill of it. I used to watch him like a hawk.” So when he got the op­por­tu­nity to work with magic again, Lenny jumped at the chance. “I felt very priv­i­leged to be there with these tal­ented guys. I got to walk on fire, I got to do a iron bar neck bend and I got smacked in the chest with a con­crete slab. “Luck­ily, it wasn't Barry and Stu­art who did that as they'd prob­a­bly have fol­lowed through.” Apart from peo­ple who are keen to find out more about Lenny, “Cra­dle to Rave” is a show not to be missed for soul fans who fancy a trip down mem­ory lane. And one Scot­tish funk band gets a lot of at­ten­tion.. “The Av­er­age White Band are one of my favourites in the world,” said Lenny. “In the 1970s they were play­ing funk to a highly func­tion­ing level and they were even the house band for Chaka Khan’s I'm Ev­ery Woman.” Al­though Lenny ad­mits the last two years have been tough, due to his split with wife Dawn French af­ter 25 years, it was also an in­cred­i­ble time for him. He was cast in one of Shake­speare’s most chal­leng­ing roles and re­warded with crit­i­cal ac­claim. “Othello was one of the ma­jor cat­a­clysmic mo­ments in my life,” he said. “To have my first ex­pe­ri­ence in a Shake­speare play in one of the big­gest roles was mind­blow­ing. When­ever I’ve thrown my­self in the deep end in the past I’ve sur­vived. So I worked in­cred­i­bly hard on it be­cause I knew peo­ple thought I was go­ing to be crap – the au­di­ence were ex­pect­ing me to start do­ing im­pres­sions. “I’m still so de­lighted that I won the Lon­don Evening Stan­dard Best New­comer Award.” And af­ter his “Cra­dle to Rave” tour, Lenny is go­ing back to tackle Shake­speare in The Com­edy of Er­rors in Novem­ber at The Na­tional Theatre. “I’m ab­so­lutely brick­ing it,” he said. “The first time I was very im­ma­ture in Shake­speare so I'm look­ing for­ward to do­ing it again.” Don’t miss Lenny Henry’s “Cra­dle to Rave: A Mu­si­cal Jour­ney” at the Mu­sic Hall on April 19.

TRUE FAVOURITE: The Av­er­age White Band.

ECO-MES­SAGE: AC­CLAIM: Comic and ac­tor Lenny Henry in Othello.

MAGIC: Lenny said it was a priv­i­lege to work with duo Barry and Stu­art.

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