Sunday 29th July 2007 ~ For Dog Lovers Everywhere

When I was small, I often worried about the souls of animals, fishes, birds and insects and all the other specks of life which surround us and of which we are inextricably a part. I sort of assumed that it was only “We” who had an immortal soul.
Then along came Rex, who died around 13yrs of age - I can’t remember exactly - but he led a life of freedom that would be impossible today. He wandered the Durham streets; the footpaths, alley-ways and woods around the beautiful city.


Once I felt him reach to me in my mind. He had been missing for two days and mam and dad were getting really worried. We were all upset; Rex was a wanderer, but he came home every night, for his supper and to sit with the family. He was a simple (!) mongrel if that could be said of such a baroque mix of breeds - and very loving. This time it was different - I could feel him call and I knew he was in trouble. I headed toward the river banks, going as if drawn, toward Baths Bridge. His call was getting stronger. I hurried over the bridge and approached a caravan that sold ice-cream during hot weather. The caravan was closed up, but I remember feeling his call getting stronger and more urgent with every step I took. My heart pounded as I stood at the caravan door. Suddenly my courage was there - “Rex” I shouted. At once there was a bark, and then another, and then again and again and scratching and whining and…..

….a roar of anger from the scruffy man who owned the tin hovel. I wrenched open the door and Rex tumbled out followed by the man. I can’t remember what I said, but I know I shouted at him and then ran off with Rex along the footpath toward home.

It is an attitude of supreme arrogance to assume that only we have a soul.

Finally here is a poem sent by Yoko, which she tells me has become very popular in Japan.

There is a bridge connecting Heaven and Earth.
It is called the Rainbow Bridge because of its many colors.
Just this side of the Rainbow Bridge,
there is a land of meadows, hills and valleys with lush green grass.
When a beloved pet dies, the pet goes to this place.
There is always food and water and warm Spring weather.
Those old and frail animals are young again.
Those who have been maimed are made whole again.
They play all day with each other.
Some of them here by the Bridge are different.
These pets were beaten, starved, tortured, and unloved.
They watch wistfully as their friends leave one by one,
to cross the bridge with their special person.
For them there is no one, no special one.
Their time on earth did not give them one.
But one day, as they run and play,
they notice someone standing by the road to the bridge.
This person wistfully watches the reunions of friends,
for during life, this person had no pet.
This person was beaten, starved, tortured, and unloved.
Standing there alone, one of the unloved pets approaches,
curious as to why this one is alone.
And as the unloved pet and the unloved person get nearer to each other,
a miracle occurs,
for these are the ones who were meant to be together,
the special person and the beloved pet
who never had the chance to meet while on Earth.
Finally, now, at the edge of the Rainbow Bridge,
their souls meet, the pain and the sorrow disappears,
and two friends are together.
They cross the Rainbow Bridge together, never again to be separated.
— Anonymous —
thanks Yoko.

27th July 2007 ~ Ella Halman - A Psychic Investigation Begins…

After an interesting day auditioning, I set off back to the hotel, walking with an increasingly heavy bag and new shoes. My shoes had started their life quite well, but in the New York heat, the rather raw internal seams and stitching started to take their toll on my left toes, my right heel and on the whole of my good nature. Needless to say, by the time I reached the hotel, my good nature had temporarily vanished. Fortunately my room was cool and above all peaceful, which cannot be said for the rest of the hotel, which suffered from the malady of a nightly ‘disco’ with a mind-numbing incessant, thumping beat, which destroyed any opportunity and inclination to have anything resembling an intelligent conversation.Once my feet and body had cooled down and the two pain-killers I had taken had pulled my raging headache down to manageable proportions, I escaped the wall of sound outside of my room and found myself back on Broadway.






Times Square, resembles a giant video-game. Somehow it works; maybe because there is more space and maybe because the Americans really know how to make ‘trash-flash’ work. New Yorkers seem more friendly, polite and articulate than Londoners – certainly I have met nothing but kindness and openness in the three days since we arrived. So much for New York being fast; everyone seems to have more time to ‘relate’, - unlike London where the aggression level seems much higher - and folk seem more miserable.


Walking through Times Square, my thoughts turned to my long time friend and musical director David S. who had sloped-off after auditions, to see ‘Curtains’ at the Al Hirschfeld theatre.


No sooner had he crossed my mind, but David, who had had a great time at the show, appeared in front of me, “Now isn’t that strange” said David, “I was just trying to ring you, but I couldn’t get through”


I think that most people experience similar occurrences on an almost daily basis. I certainly do and I think that it is possible that when two people are thinking of each other, that they become almost magnetically attracted. It’s either that, or their narrowing proximity, brings the other person into each of their minds. Whatever the reason, it occurs too frequently for me to simply discount it as co-incidence.


There is a touch of ‘living the dream’ about walking on Broadway, especially on a warm summers evening – certainly David and I felt it, as we searched for an eatery that did not involve a meal around twice the size of one we would find in London. We eventually found one and David set about a corned beef sandwich the size of a dinner-plate, whilst I contented myself with a ice-cream float (all I needed, as I had eaten, whilst David had been at the show)





After the corned beef and ice-cream float feast, David and I stopped and watched a street-artist drawing a caricature (see Martin Beck below)* of a little Japanese girl. David who at one time was a conductor with the D’Oyly Carte orchestra, suddenly remarked that during the performance of ‘Curtains’ earlier that evening, the image of Ella Halman in the part of Katisha from the Mikado had sprung into his mind.. “She was there on stage in her full Japanese costume – it was that vivid” he recounted.




David went on to explain that Ella Halman had sung with the D’Oyly Carte and had performed the part of Katisha in the Mikado at the:-

Martin Beck - Al Hirschfeld Theatre


The Al Hirschfeld Theatre is located on the south side of West 45th Street, between 8th and 9th Avenues. It is marked as the Martin Beck Theatre on The Broadway Map

The Martin Beck Theatre (Later renamed to the Al Hirschfeld Theatre) was opened in 1924 by the famous vaudeville impresario Martin Beck. Amongst his many vaudeville accolades, Martin Beck discovered the illusionist Houdini in 1899 who was performing rudimentary magic tricks in St. Paul, Minnesota. Beck convinced Houdini to focus on his “escape” routines and gave him his start in Beck’s chain of Orpheum theaters. Although the business relationship with Houdini would sour in later years, Houdini’s brother, Dash, later wrote that Houdini owed all his success to the “Astute” Martin Beck. Although Beck was voted out of the presidency of the newly “Public” Orpheum circuit in 1923, Beck remained a potent force in theatrical circles. He opened the impressive Martin Beck Theater on Broadway in 1924, the only theater in New York on which there was no mortgage.
The theatre has continuously operated as a successful Broadway venue for over eighty years.
In 2003 the theatre was renamed to the Al Hirschfeld Theatre, who’s namesake’s 100th birthday followed his death in that year. Al Hirschfeld, a famous American caricaturist (see Japanese girl above)*, is best known for his simple black and white satirical portraits of celebrities and Broadway Theatre stars. The Al Hirschfeld Theatre includes an on-going show of his works.

The Mikado

This production played in repertory with The Pirates of Penzance, Trial by Jury & H.M.S. Pinafore, Iolanthe.



Opening Night Cast

Robert Eckles

Lord High Everything Else


Radley Flynn



Martyn Green

Lord High Executioner of Titipu


Ella Halman

an Elderly Lady, in love with Nanki-Poo


Joseph Macaulay

The Mikado of Japan


Dorothy MacNeill

one of Three Sisters, ward of Ko-Ko


Lillian Murphy

one of Three Sisters, ward of Ko-Ko


Mary Roche

one of Three Sisters, ward of Ko-Ko


Frank Rogier

a Noble Lord


Robert Rounseville

son of the Mikado, disguised as a wandering minstrel, in love with Yum-Yum



Further confirmation was found:-

New York City Broadway Theater Guide


The Al Hirschfeld Theatre…….was the Martin Beck Theatre. There is more research to be done, but I am late with this week’s Almanack entry and there is little chance of me completing my detective work until I return to England this week-end - so I thought it would be interesting if I present the facts as they continue to emerge, rather than waiting until the final full picture is known.

Send this link to your friends!

It would seem to me that the spirit of Ella Halman had contacted David as he sat in the theatre where she had performed, in a vision so strong that he said it was as if she was actually on-stage that evening.

Although a young man, David had adored the work of Ella Halman and her husband Radley Flynn and had contacted them when they retired to Penrith in Cumbria. Ella outlived Radley by 17yrs and died in Penrith in 1995, at the age of 88yrs.


Ella Halman and Radley Flynn together

After corresponding for a few years, David finally represented the D’Oyly Carte at Ella Halman’s commemoration service, after having formed a strong bond with her, during her last years.

David would probably not have mentioned his vision to me, if we had not watched the little Japanese girl in Times Square.

My feeling is that Ella Halman wanted her contact with David to be ‘proven’ and not dismissed as mere imagination.

I feel that David and I have been chosen by Ella to prove it.


Let’s see what unfolds…

Wednesday 18th July 2007 ~ Is the Queen a Demi-God?


 Is the Queen a demi-god? Certainly she is a strong woman, judging by her reaction to Annie Leibovitz, who was photographing her at the time. Also the other sequence of her, striding down the corridor at high speed, whilst remonstrating with her Lady in Waiting, showed a woman, who at 80yrs, possessed the strength and fitness of a young woman – neither the robe, nor the poor footman seemed designed for such a high velocity. The whole thing seemed to have something of Jesus throwing the merchants out of the temple, or indeed Elvis aiming a hail of bullets at an unfortunate television receiver.

Ladies First however –

Was the BBC’s Blunder only a smokescreen?

In my opinion Yes. I personally think that it was a very deft piece of ‘attention deflecting.’ Amongst the hand-wringing apologies and indignant press reporting (even Helen Mirren gave a little poke at the Beeb’s misdemeanour), I could see the image of a little boy singing, “The King is in his altogether, his altogether, his altogether…” there he stood in my mind, a copy of Hans Christian Anderson under his arm…

You see, I don’t think it matters one jot if the Queen was filmed walking into or out of the photo session. It is of little consequence to me, if she was remonstrating with the Lady in Waiting or Annie Leibovitz or if she was going to, or coming from, the photo session; the almost amazing thing was that she ‘lost it’ and had a ‘go’ at someone – (and this is the important point) - whilst she was being filmed. The double-decker hamburger was the sleight of hand, smoke and mirrors furore that was subsequently presented to the public.

Like a conjurer pulling focus from the hand that would produce the rabbit, the media hyped-up the ‘disgrace’ of getting the sequences the wrong way round. So much emphasis was put on the ‘fact’ that the Queen had been wrongly represented by the BBC, that the actual dialogue between ‘Lillibet’ and Annie was in some way vilified and lumped together with the Beeb’s ‘misdemeanour and therefore the ‘untruth’ of it all.

“No, little boy. The King IS wearing his clothes – I’M telling you!”

Consider the exchanges:

Us photographer Annie Leibovitz looks at the Queen in her full regalia and states: “I think it will look better without the crown, because the garter robe is so extr…”

Before Ms Leibovitz can finish, ‘Lillibet’ appears, straightens her back so quickly that her head raises by around 3”; she fixes the Lennon-spectacled Annie L with an icy stare and retorts (indicating her robe)


“Less dressy?” – “What do you think this is?”

Later (or earlier) the Queen berates her Lady-in Waiting, whilst striding down a corridor (or up a corridor – does it really matter):


“I’m not changing anything. I’ve had enough dressing like this thank you very much.”

Notice how, in the corridor sequence, the Queen punctuates her anger with a double-handed gesture of rejection, the cut of her arm movements separating her from everything below…,,30100-1274866,00.html( footage taken from a new BBC documentary entitled A Year With The Queen.)

Reverse the sequences; does it change or falsify the fact that the Queen had indeed, ‘flung a wobbler’?


The Queen’s full title in the United Kingdom is Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and of her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith.

She is a Symbol


Is there no room for Lillibet?


Jesus is a spirit, a guide and a prophet in many religions, Christianity; Judaism, Islam all embrace him. Osho the Taoist guru even considered that his parables and teachings indicated that he must have travelled in the East. But what about Jesus the man? Did Jesus ever laugh? I don’t mean a gentle smile; I mean a great throbbing guffaw – a laugh that would bring tears of mirth down his face and catch his followers up in a burst of Joy. Take a look at the pictures below; do they offend or delight you?

Jesus is the Son of God


He is a symbol.


Is there no room for Jesus the man?


no time ago
or else a life
walking in the dark
i met Christ

Jesus my heart
flopped over
and lay still
while he passed as

close as I’m to you
yes closer
made of nothing
except loneliness

~E.E. Cummings


“My God my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”

That for me is the moment of gestalt; a flash of imperfection that touches me, and like my own father when I first saw him falter - The moment I can love him.


It could be considered that we create everything. Many years ago, I used to choreograph for the ‘Theatre of the Deaf’, a professional group of deaf actors. I remember an enthusiastic, very hippy-like girl, who had come over from the States and attached herself to us.


Koo Stark was enthusiastic and warm. I remember her visiting Liz and I and racing my young son up a small hill; then having coffee at our small flat in Addlestone Surrey. I liked Koo a lot and got on with her in an easy way…

A few years later, I arrived back in England, after working in Sweden, to see posters of young Koo as “Emily”.


This elevation of a friend to celebrity status has occurred many times in my life; the latest candidate for elevation is Lee Mead as the new “West End Joseph”. It always produces a slight distancing effect in me. It as if my ‘ordinary’ friend has become in some way more ‘special’ than an ordinary person. A sort of ‘God-Light’ has begun to shine.

An artist friend of mine remembers seeing Paul McCartney and Jane Asher, standing in the foyer of a London theatre. Trevor later remarked to me that “There was a light around them. They seemed to glow”…


Scrolling forward to early 1986 and I again found myself working with Koo. Koo was appearing at the (aptly named) Duke of York’s Theatre in St Martin’s Lane at around the time that Prince Andrew, who was previously her boyfriend, married Sarah ‘Fergie’ Ferguson. It had been arranged that I would do some ‘movement’ classes with Koo. No matter how much I tried to recapture our easy friendship of our ‘Theatre of the Deaf” days, something within me kept a little distance….because she had become ‘different’ and ‘special’ – or perhaps I had created the separation?>



Elvis Presley is depicted on an altar candle in author Gregory Reece’s collection of Elvis art. Reece, a native of Limestone County who now lives in Montevallo, says Elvis is a popular religious figure in today’s culture.

One of Elvis’s favourite television programmes was “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” and his favourite character was the Eric Idle “Nudge nudge Wink wink” sketches. The concept of Elvis rolling about at the antics of John Cleese and Co, are somehow at odds with the image of Elvis the King…


I remember sitting in the BBC canteen, during a break in recording “The Old Curiosity Shop”. I was around 18yrs and totally overawed by the “names” I was eating with. I tried to appear relaxed and friendly with the ‘special ones’ Michelle Dotrice (later to become Frank Spencer’s “Betty”), Patrick Troughton (a wonderful actor, later to become the second Dr. Who), and Anton Rogers, who I idolized, largely because when I turned up on the first day of rehearsals, managed to make me feel at home by making me a cup of tea.

There we all sat in the busy self-service area at lunch-break (me and the stars!) Anton and I (wow!) went to get the ‘afters’ - I chose apple pie and custard. I remember thinking how strange it was to have the custard in a glass jar with a metal screw cap and a spout. Nevertheless undaunted, I poured the yellow contents over my portion of apple pie and went back with my idol to the dinner table. I really adore apple pie and custard, but despite Michelle’s smile and Anton’s ‘Is it ok?’ I found it very difficult to eat my portion. Was I Overawed by their ‘special ness’? I undoubtedly was, but at the same time, it’s very difficult to rehearse after consuming apple-pie laced with half a jar of salad cream.

And yes…I did eat it (all of it)

And what of the relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene?

The Gospel of Philip records: […] loved her more than all the disciples, and used to kiss her often on her mouth. The rest of the disciples […]. They said to him “Why do you love her more than all of us?” The Savior answered and said to them,” Why do I not love you like her? When a blind man and one who sees are both together in darkness, they are no different from one another. When the light comes, then he who sees will see the light, and he who is blind will remain in darkness.”

Whatever the relationship, it would seem that Jesus regarded Mary as of possessing a high spiritual evolution, higher than the male disciples and perhaps close to that of Jesus himself.

Were the Disciples Jealous?

The Gospel of Mary Magdalene states:

Peter said to Mary:

“Sister, we know that the Teacher loved you Differently from other women. Tell us whatever you remember Of any words he told you. Which we have not yet heard.”

So far so good, when Mary answers however, does Peter’s green eye of jealousy flash?

And Peter added, “How is it possible that the Teacher talked in this manner with a woman, about secrets of which we ourselves are ignorant?”

How about this one ladies…

“Must we change our customs and listen to this woman? Did he really choose her and prefer her to us?”

I am now in Da Vinci Code territory and it is easy to see why Dan Brown’s book has been such a success, even though the discovery of the Gnostic Gospels in Nag Hammadi occurred back in 1946. The Gospel of Mary Magdalene was actually unearthed in Cairo in 1896, some fifty years before. So why has their success been so long coming? My ‘take’ on it is that as a society, we are no longer so subservient to our ‘betters’. We now have a dual need:

Need 1

We need a Symbol to aspire to – to be greater than us - even supernatural

Need 2

We need to see that the symbol relates to us as human beings; that the symbol is personified as human - but without failings – In other words ‘a perfect person’


We cannot tolerate absolute perfection; are as a society becoming increasingly secular and like to see a tiny glimpse of ‘human emotion’ on occasion – Jesus throwing the merchants and tradespeople out of the temple is an image that should give our Queen a certain re-assurance.

Now I think it can be seen more clearly, why the BBC went to such lengths to smokescreen the Queen’s betrayal of her natural anger. (Perhaps the ghost of little Lillibet had made an untimely appearance and smiling at the little boy with the Hans Christian Anderson book - just ‘went for it’). But the spirit of Lillibet is too human to be a symbol and must stay quietly in Elizabeth’s heart. Her Majesty need only have answered ‘I’d prefer to keep it on’ with a slight and meaningful smile and all would have been well, but no, King George’s strong spirited daughter shone through and in doing so, became for a glorious instant, the same as us all. (and I loved her for it.)


“They’re just like us really,” Christina my mother used to say. Well they are and they aren’t. We need our symbols and our leaders and we do need a touch of their human roots, but we also need to know that they are different; that they are something more than us.…and so we help make them into ‘something more’.


(woe betide them if they fail)‘till the next time


Thursday 12th July ~ Santa Claus The Oak Tree and the Devil

This entry was corrupted by an unsuitable programme - it has therefore been removed.

Monday 2nd July ~ Lee Mead Joseph / The Passport, and the Pendulum


Peter Lawrence (Jacob) Gary Martin (Pharaoh) Sian Evans (Mrs Potiphar) Karen King (dancer) Jackie Marks (Narrator)

So I turned on the TV and there was Lee! Lee used to be the Pharaoh in our tour of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. But could this handsome young performer, with all of the attributes of a ‘star to be’ be really ‘our Lee’ – yes, of course it was. It was just that seeing him in the ‘promo’ of Any Dream Will Do, made him somehow extra-special.

There is a sort of conceptual phenomena that happens when someone becomes famous. It is as though they grow in the reflection of the power that the public gives them – as if the desire of the public, makes them special and in some way more than they are.

Now don’t get me wrong. Lee is one of the nicest people I have worked with, is just as handsome as you see on the screen and has a voice to die for. Nothing you have heard so far, shows the range and the sheer power of that young man’s voice. It’s just that he will soon become more of a modern demi-god than just a really nice, talented guy. I expect everyone from Elvis to Robbie Williams has experienced what it is to become an icon.

But then, what do we all do when we have built an icon? We demolish it of course – or try to. Perhaps an inbuilt envy comes into play –

Q: How many theatricals does it take to change a lightbulb?

A= Ten. One to screw in the bulb and nine to stand around and say “I could have done that!”

(most couldn’t do what Lee does – Good Luck Mate!)

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is a total phenomena. I have been working on it, since around 1977, and I really do think it is impossible to ‘date’ it.

It has the combination of the most spiritual lyrics (thanks Tim Rice) and the most infectious tunes (thanks ALW). Look at the lyric below from Any Dream Will Do – It could be the motto of every clairvoyant:

“I closed my eyes

Drew back the curtain

To see for certain

What I thought I knew”

But then, nobody listens to the lyrics of a pop-song. Do they?


The Passport and the Pendulum

It’s difficult to keep things together on tour. When I pack things away at the end of the week and if I’m not careful, things go into my car and are not seen again for several months. Equally, if I put a newspaper down by my armchair, it will have been joined in a few hours, by a coffee-mug, two restaurant bills, a taxi receipt and an application to join the local Conservative party, (together with an old sweet, a pair of broken reading glasses with a piece of wire to hold them on, a bar of soap and a piece of string. I’m not kidding because I’ve just looked beside my arm-chair – and it’s true!)

Anyway – what I’m leading up to, is my forthcoming trip to the States. I’m going over there to choreograph and co-direct a musical. (I’ll let you know what is, when I know I can tell you what it is!)

“Can you send me a copy of your passport” quoth the on-line producer.

“Of course” I replied, with an uneasy feeling that my passport might have got (sorry America) ‘gotten’ mislaid.

Well, I spent around a day and a half, looking for my key to the greater world, but to no avail. I tried my grey suitcase first, where I keep most of my ‘papers’ but no luck. Then I emptied every draw and cupboard in the house – but the passport remained hidden.

The next stage was to empty the car. Books, clothes, lists, more pieces of string and endless black bin liners, full of letters, disposable razors, nail clippers – I found three, but I can never find one when I need to cut my nails. Alas, no passport was to be found amongst the rubble.

In times of trouble, I go to the kitchen and make a cup of tea or coffee…

I was standing looking out of the kitchen window, when AndyM gave me a call. “So why don’t you use ‘divining’ for it?” said Andy. Andy went onto describe his divining skills:

“I get two metal coat hangers and straighten them out. Then I bend one end of each one in an L shape and holding them in both fists, I walk around the garden with them; when they move together, I know that something is below ground that my body reacts to.”

Andy’s contention was that we may be sensitive to different things; some people would detect metal (coins – even nailclippers!) and others would detect water. I went on to explain to Andy that I had done this for years, with a crystal pendulum, but that (guess what) I had not seen it for months and had no idea where it was…

After Andy’s call and another cup of coffee, I went back to work. There were still a couple of bin-liners in the car, so I went to get them. As I was struggling through the front door with the second one, I head a ‘clink-thud’ behind me.

My long lost pendulum had fallen out of the bin-liner and was glistening on the front door step! I smiled as I picked it up and went back into the house…

I tried the front room first. “Is my passport here?” I said out-loud, holding the pendulum over a heap of papers. The pendulum seemed to think for a moment and then swung in an anti-clockwise directed – no luck there.

The next port of call was the middle room. “Is my passport here?” produced the same response, no matter what pile of ‘rubbish’ I held it over. At last there was only the grey suitcase that I had searched through first, a day and a half before. “Is my passport here?” I intoned, with a sinking feeling. The pendulum swung clockwise for the first time.

Yes, it was there!

‘till the next time


soulMerlin’s Almanack is proudly powered by WordPress and themed by Mukka-mu