Barry & Joan Keeping Vaudeville Alive DVD
Running Time: approx 84 min. Vaudeville.
Featuring: Barry & Joan Grantham. Director: Audrey Rumsby.
Also includes an extra: Funny Up North – A History of Northern Comedy with Mike Blakeley.
A joyful insight into the creative world of Barry and Joan Grantham, two British eccentrics who have kept the skills of vaudeville alive for over seventy years. Since becoming stage-struck lovers in 1984, Barry and Joan have worked with the greats of British film and theatre. They are the last of the golden generation of vaudeville, eager to pass their legacy on to future generations. Barry & Joan is a delightfully quirky film, informative and funny, which captures a couple of troupers who are two of our few remaining links to vaudeville. A must for anyone interested in the history of theatre and comedy.
Barry, a “ballet boy” from Manchester as he describes himself, trained with Stanislas Idzikowski of the Ballets Russes. Joan comes from a musical family in Sussex and started as a dancer but is also a musician and composer and provides piano accompaniment while Barry teaches. She spotted his legs when they met in a musical. Seventy-five years later, they are still married, performing, and teaching. This quirky and delightful documentary takes us on a journey through the lives of Barry and Joan Grantham, a British couple with a rich history as performing artists and creators on stage and screen. These stage-struck lovers met in 1948 and have built a repertoire of performance from television and Music Hall to drag and nude theatre. Novices and performing arts professionals alike travel from Europe and the US to hone their skills and expand their craft in Barry and Joan’s workshops on Vaudeville, Eccentric dance and Commedia dell’Arte. Their story is a treasure trove of inspiration for the playful and open-minded. As their magic unfolds before us, it becomes clear that they just didn’t have time to grow old. The couple first met in the cast of the musical Song of Norway. They lost touch but their paths crossed again a year later. They married in 1962 and their show has always gone on. Barry and Joan talk vividly about their past triumphs, illustrated with stills from their shows. They were part of the last days of the variety halls, in at the start of cabaret entertainment on ocean liners, musicals, pantomime, seaside summer shows – you name it, they’ve done it. The film also takes us into Barry’s classes, where he teaches young actors and dancers the soft shoe shuffle and other song and dance techniques including Commedia dell’arte.