Multi-talented Ewan Wardrop charts George Formby's rise to become one of Britain's biggest stars in his one-man show THE REVIEWS for Ewan Wardrop's Formby following his appearance at last year's Edinburgh Festival Fringe were almost universally complimentary. What's more he was subsequently invited to play on several other shows including Nicholas Parsons's Happy Hour and Jon Richardson's sell-out performance at Assembly Hall.
In fact, such was his success that Ewan decided to take his one- man show out on the road.
The 23-venue national tour stops off at Crewe's Lyceum Theatre on Wednesday, August 7. Telling the tale of George Formby and charting his rise from awkward stable boy to one of Britain's biggest stars, the production includes classic hits Blackpool Rocking, Leaning On A Lamp-Post and When I'm Cleaning Windows. Impressively, Ewan not only plays the role of Formby, but he takes on all the other key characters in George's life - and plays the ukulele on stage too.
It's such a physically demanding show, says Ewan. Switching between characters is really exhausting but to top it off, George's wife Beryl, who really drove his career along, was a clog dancer, so I do a bit of that as well.
The ukulele is an instrument he was inspired to learn after watching Formby's films when he was a schoolboy. I've been a big fan of George Formby since I was at school, says Ewan. They used to show his films in the school holidays and I thought he was amazing. About 15 years ago, I learned to play the ukulele. I'm quite pleased to say that the ukulele is having a bit of a resurgence at the moment.
Ewan went on to train as a dancer, eventually becoming a principal performer with Matthew Bourne's company, Adventures In Motion Pictures.
Formby was written by Ewan and codevised and directed by Ed Hughes. I was in a play called ENRON with Ed, explains Ewan. We were sharing a dressing room and I started to play some Formby songs on the ukulele.
It was his idea to do the show. I took a bit of persuading really because I didn't think I looked particularly like George Formby. But the more we looked into it, we realised that it was actually quite a good story to tell.
The show is produced by Ed's company Salida Productions, whose patron is no less than Sir Kenneth Branagh. This isn't a tribute show, says Ewan. It's a play about the relationship between George and Beryl. Particularly later on, his success was at the expense of their relationship.
Formby is at Crewe's Lyceum Theatre on Wednesday, August 7. Call 01270 368242.
IN A NUTSHELL Not only a celebration of one of Britain's greatest performers, this one-man show is a funny and thoughtful look at Formby's life WIN!
THE SENTINEL has teamed up with the Lyceum Theatre to offer a pair of tickets to see the show on Wednesday, August 7. The winner will also receive pre-show tea and cake.
Just tell us the name of George Formby's wife.
Send your answers, along with your name, address and a daytime contact number, to Formby competition, Features Desk, The Sentinel, Forge Lane, Etruria, Stoke-on-Trent, ST1 5SS or email@example.com by noon on Tuesday, August 6.
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