Thursday, 2 February 2023

The public will clamour, the public will roar

Very sad (and shocking) news - the simply marvellous Mr Kit Hesketh-Harvey has departed for Fabulon much, much too soon, aged just 65!

Not just the man whose erudite wit made his cabaret act Kit and The Widow (later Kit and McConnel) such a must-see ["our gang" has been along to see them on several occasions, and always come away with sore ribs from laughing] but...

  • He wrote the screenplay for the classic EM Forster screen adaptation Maurice.
  • He studied contemporary theatre under the tutelage of none other than Stephen Sondheim.
  • With Richard Curtis, he co-wrote The Vicar of Dibley for Dawn French.
  • As a theatrical actor-singer he starred in the 1996 revival of the uber-camp musical Salad Days, in the original Sondheim revue Putting It Together, in the Noel Coward tribute revue Cowardy Custard with Dillie Keane of Fascinating Aida, and as "the baddie" in numerous pantomimes.
  • A lifelong devotee of opera, he adapted Lehar's The Merry Widow for Opera North (and later Sydney Opera House), Offenbach's La Belle Hélène for English National Opera and Smetena's The Bartered Bride for the Royal Opera House; and produced a tribute to "the father of opera" wittily titled Monteverdi's Flying Circus for the Armonico Consort.

Such a loss.

Let's pay tribute with a selection of old faves, shall we..?

Kit and The Widow - Norwegians:

Ever since the moment when
Plucky Leif Erikson
Paddled up the Skagerrak,
Reykjavik bound...

Kit and The Widow - People Who Like Sondheim (part 1):

People who like Sondheim
Sit and seethe in impotent rage
Saying he’s ahead of his age
That’s why no one goes!

People who like Sondheim
Love him with a frenzy
No one’s good as he is
But who they want to be is
Julia Mackenzie.

Kit and The Widow - People Who Like Sondheim (part 2): Julia McKenzie - The Boy From...:

Kit and McConnel - West End Score:

You too can write a great West End score
Steal it from somebody else
The public will clamour, the public will roar
They won't know the best tunes were written before.

I could feel my lower colon rend
Oh, please, my friend,
Not Nando's!

Utter genius!

RIP, Christopher John "Kit" Hesketh-Harvey (30th April 1957 – 1st February 2023)

10 comments:

  1. He looks very familiar, but I know I don't recall any of the clips.

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    1. I'm not sure whether the typically British satirical type of cabaret such as Kit and the Widow, Fascinating Aida or Flanders and Swann ever really translated over the pond for 'Merkin audiences.

      US cabaret humour tends more towards the clever "wisecracks" that were the speciality of the likes of Mel Brooks, Phyllis Diller, Joan Rivers, Milton Berle, Woody Allen and so on, I feel - although the likes of Tom Lehrer pushed the boundaries somewhat. Jx

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  2. This is really sad. An extraordinary man

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  3. "he co-wrote The Vicar of Dibley for Dawn French." - Well, then... if there be one, he's in heaven. He had the divine touch. I wonder if he ever got to see the interior of Sondheim's dungeon? Also a sort of heaven... if tales are to be believed. Kizzes.

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    Replies
    1. Like so many things spread by idiots on social media, the "Sondheim dungeon" is a myth.

      Mr Hesketh-Harvey, however, was a genius, tutored by another. RIP. Jx

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  4. So many memories...Thank you.

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  5. Such a shame. He was such a clever and talented man. xx

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    Replies
    1. It was such a shock, just as I have been looking at the new season's cabarets at Crazy Coqs - where Kit & McConnell had a residency. He was only five years older than me... Jx

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