Norman Wisdom dominated British film and theatre during the 1950s playing to packed audiences across the country. The London Palladium and Pinewood Studios became second homes and for his first motion picture, Trouble In Store, he received a BAFTA. The film featured his iconic self-penned song, ‘Don’t Laugh At Me’, which stayed in the UK charts top ten for months. He is often credited with saving The Rank Organisation from bankruptcy following a run of successful films. The 1963 release, A Stitch In Time out-grossed the James Bond epic, From Russia With Love.
For more than six decades Norman’s warmth and boundless energy won the hearts of millions. His cloth cap, ill-fitting suit and classic underdog character led Charlie Chaplin to describe him as his ‘favourite clown’.
In this emotional roller coaster one-man play Jack Lane takes you behind Norman Wisdom’s well-known character to reveal a tough and lonely childhood. After joining the Army he discovers a passion for comedy and begins to perfect an act that would go on to shape his unique style. The world of post-war Music Hall and Variety embraces Norman’s manic slapstick routine catapulting him to stardom in the early 1950s. Success on the silver screen including the hit song, ‘Don’t Laugh at Me’, seals his fame. But fame comes at a price…
Jack Lane plays 30 characters throughout this tour de force performance. The Gump costume that features in the play belonged to Norman and has been generously loaned to the production by his son and daughter, Nicholas and Jacqueline Wisdom.
Jack Lane (Norman Wisdom & Writer) began his theatrical career in 2003, starting backstage as a resident technician at The Capitol Theatre (Horsham). He honed his acting craft for over 10 years by working with many leading tour companies in a variety of roles for countless plays, musicals and pantomimes. In 2010 Jack founded Engine Shed Theatre Company and went on to adapt three episodes and two Christmas specials of the classic BBC sitcom, Steptoe and Son which met with approval from the original writers Ray Galton and Alan Simpson. Jack took the role of Albert Steptoe whilst producing and designing the productions. In 2015 he premiered his self-penned one-man play based on the life and career of comedy icon, Norman Wisdom. The play opened to critical acclaim and was endorsed by Wisdom’s estate. Wisdom of a Fool embarked on a UK Tour in 2016.
Previous credits include: Wisdom of a Fool (UK Tour/IOM) Twirlywoos (BBC/Ragdoll) The Mistress, Great Britain (ASM, Theatre Royal, Haymarket) Gretel and Hansel, Cue for a Song, Steptoe & Son (Guildford Fringe) Peter Pan (Middlesbrough), From Turner To Houston, National Theatre Connections (voice), Steptoe & Son Christmas Special, The Wizard of Oz, Aladdin, Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens, Confusions, Annie, That’s Entertainment (The Capitol Horsham) and Max Bialystock in The Producers (The Hawth).
Kenny Clayton (Music & Direction) studied piano at Trinity College of Music in London. He has worked as a musical director and arranger for a number of popular singers, including Dick Haymes, Shirley Bassey, Matt Monro, Robin Gibb, Cilla Black, Charles Aznavour, Sacha Distel, and Roger Whittaker. He was Petula Clark’s musical director and arranger from 1962 until 2005. As a composer, Kenny has scored the films Ragman’s Daughter, The Pied Piper, The 14, Brother Sun, Sister Moon, The Savage Hunt, and the final Morecambe and Wise project, Night Train To Murder. Stage credits include the scores or Bertie, Oedipus, Ring Your Mother, Box, and The Mistress.
Theatre credits as musical director and arranger include: The Sound of Music and Someone Like You (both with Petula Clark), No Strings, Privates On Parade, Billy, Song & Dance, and Nightingale. Kenny has composed, scored and recorded incidental music for spoken word albums including The Secret Garden, A Journey to the Centre of the Earth, Puckoon and Black Beauty. For Peter O’Toole, he composed incidental music to accompany his readings of Shakespearean ballads and sonnets. Television credits as a musical director and accompanist include: Shirley Bassey and Count Basie’s Something Special (for NBC), Petula Clark’s Traces Of Love (for ATV), The Vocal Touch – Anita Harris (for BBC2), and the original series Company & CO (for BBC2), Coming Next (for Channel 4) and Lilly Live (for LWT).
Wisdom of a Fool
208 Wandsworth Rd, London SW8 2JU
8th – 11th March 2017