Ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay: Music Hall in Islington

  • 23
  • Oct

From ‘Ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay’ to ‘Pack up your troubles’ and beyond, music hall songs and their performers occupy a special place in the hearts of Londoners and, in particular, Islington.  The borough’s music halls and theatres entertained generations of Islingtonians, who would drop in to see their favourite ‘turns’, including Marie Lloyd and Charlie Chaplin. Between 1840 and 1960 there were over 100-known licensed halls and variety theatres in the borough, each promising a unique evening’s entertainment.

The famous singing star Marie Lloyd made her debut here at the Eagle Tavern, off City Road, and Norman Wisdom launched his professional career at Collins’ Music Hall on Islington Green.  Astounding feats of daring and illusion were witnessed at the Finsbury Park Empire, where Harry Houdini escaped from near-impossible stunts and Percy Selbit was credited with being the first person to perform the illusion of sawing a woman in half! Audiences laughed at the comedy of Laurel and Hardy, Kate Carney and Max Miller, and marvelled at the amazing feats performed by fire eaters, trick cyclists and acrobats.

Adult

Matinee Show. A stroll down the Golden Mile
Thursday 15 August, 2pm
Islington Museum

Explore the remarkable and rambunctious history of music hall in Islington! Hear from our band of merry miscreants, the ‘Naughty Nineties’, as they sing their way through songs from the borough.

Walk. The boy up in the gallery: Nelly Power and the music halls of Islington

Walk 1 – Tuesday 20 August, 6pm

Walk 2 – Saturday 14 September, 11am

Join our guide Lottie, as Victorian music-hall singer and Islington resident Nelly Power, on this free 90-minute ‘theatrical’ walk. Listen to Nelly’s story, and a song or two, while visiting the locations of the borough’s well-known music halls. Hear how these venues were once made famous by performers including Vesta Tilley, Gracie Fields, Marie Lloyd and, of course, Nelly herself!

Starts: Angel Underground Station
Ends: Islington Museum
Book your place

Talk. Freak shows, circus and music hall: Victorian entertainment in Islington
Tuesday 24 September, 6pm
Islington Museum

Roll up! Roll up! Roll up! Historian and author Dr John Woolf explores the history of the Victorian freak show, through the stories of the ‘freak performers’ who graced the boards of this popular form of Victorian entertainment.

From the world’s first international celebrity, a dwarf performer endorsed by Queen Victoria, to the original ‘Siamese Twins’ who wowed the medical world- this talk brings centre stage the stars of the Victorian freak show that helped define Queen Victoria’s age, a number of whom appeared in Islington’s music hall and places of entertainment.

Evening Show. A stroll down the Golden Mile
Friday 4 October, 6.30pm
Islington Museum

Explore the remarkable and rambunctious history of music hall in Islington! Hear from our band of merry miscreants, the ‘Naughty Nineties’, as they sing their way through songs from the borough. Join in with old favourites including Champagne Charlie and My Old Man Said Follow the Van… and get a taste of what music hall was all about.

Talk. Chapel on the Green: The rise and fall of Collins’ Music Hall
Tuesday 15 October, 6pm
Islington Museum

Mark Aston takes us back to the golden age of music hall and to tell the story of one of London’s most loved and famous halls – Collins’ on Islington Green. For nearly 100 years, Collins’ played host to all the music-hall greats, including Marie Lloyd, Harry Champion, George Robey and a young Charlie Chaplin, and also ‘turns’ considered not so great!

Book here

Families

Family Workshop. Music-hall costumes!
Tuesday 30 July 2019, 1-3pm
Islington Museum
Join us for a family workshop this summer and celebrate our music hall exhibition.

Under 5s music-hall sing-along!
Thursday 1 August 2019
Session 1: 10am
Session 2: 10.45am
Join singer Paul on a musical adventure through Islington’s Music Halls. An interactive event suitable for under 5s.

Family workshop. Making a mini theatre!
Thursday 8 August 2019, 1-3pm
Islington Museum
Join us for a family workshop this summer and celebrate our music hall exhibition.

Under 5s music-hall storytelling!
Friday 9 August 2019
Session 1: 10am
Session 2: 10.45am
Islington Museum
Join storyteller Dani as you discover the magical world of Music Hall in Islington.  An interactive adventure suitable for under 5s.

Under 5s messy play: Music hall!
Thursday 29 August 2019, 10am – 11.30am
Islington Museum
Explore Islington’s Music Hall history at this messy, sensory session. Messy Play does get messy, so please wear old clothes!

BOOKING:

School holiday events get busy so booking is essential. Please contact
Lottie.Tempest-Mountford@islington.gov.uk to book your place.

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