ART SCENE IN WALES
At PONTIO by Steve Stratford July 17th 2016
Way back in 1979, when punk and disco were the musical movements dominating nightclubs and Top of the Pops, a small nightspot called the Blitz Club opened up in London’s Covent Garden. It’s well known how instrumental the Blitz was in shaping the direction British music took over the following few years, inventing the subculture that became known as New Romanticism.
It’s also well documented that a pre-fame Boy George worked on the coat-check stand at the Blitz, but nobody ever wonders who took his job on when he handed in his notice and swanned off to seek stardom and fame with Culture Club. Well, Whatever Happened to LaLa Shockette answers that question, as well as many other questions you’d never thought of asking, and would be surprised by the answers to.
It’s a cabaret extravaganza dreamed up by Welsh actress and singer Lowri-Ann Richards, who as well as being recognisable from various Welsh language soaps such as Pobol y Cwm and Rownd a Rownd, was also at the very epicentre of the New Romantic explosion more than 35 years ago. You probably won’t have heard of her – as Lowri-Ann or her pop alter ego LaLa Shockette – but she was most definitely there, as her slideshow of celebrity snaps attests.
But how true some of the anecdotes she tells during the course of the show are is up for debate, and Lowri-Ann likes it that way. She mixes fact with fiction to concoct a fabulously entertaining and eccentric production that charts her showbiz life, from kissograms to motherhood.
The first half concentrates firmly on LaLa’s 1980s heyday, when she was a backing singer for top acts like Gary Numan, Visage and Pleasure and the Beast (look them up). As far as it’s possible to tell, all that is probably true. She even had her own band, Shock, which supported all the great acts of the day, such as Ultravox and Numan, and was in an early version of Tight Fit, the band which later went on to enjoy a smash hit with The Lion Sleeps Tonight. All that’s true too.
But when Richards teases with allusions to an affair with Numan, or inadvertently inspiring David Bowie, or being in an abusive relationship with notorious actor-cum-gangster Johnny Bindon, the audience is put on the back foot. Is she telling the truth, or is she massaging the facts? The truth is, everything she says could be absolutely true, just as much as it could all be a pack of lies. And that’s the tantalising beauty of the production. It feels like one of those juicy, gossipy autobiographies that “lifts the lid” on “the truth behind the lies” of one of the most hedonistic periods in 20th century pop culture. But it could all be completely fictional too. In many ways, it’s best not to know, because the magic lies in the doubt. You leave the show still wondering…
Richards is an experienced and well-honed performer. Act 1 sees her knock out her own unique renditions of Tubeway Army’s Are Friends Electric? (showing off some mean popping and locking skills alongside two young, handsome male dancers), Blondie’s One Way or Another (complete with head torch and searchlights) and Velvet Underground’s Venus in Furs. Lowri-Ann studies singing with Welsh tenor and West End vocal coach Jeffrey Talbot, and you can tell – she has an impressive range and control, demonstrated best by her cover of Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights. That is not an easy song to sing (even for Kate, to be honest!), but Richards excels, both vocally and through the eccentric performance. For once, someone sings a Kate Bush song without making fun of Kate Bush. That, in itself, is refreshing.
Her choice of 80s tracks is well considered, and the highlights have to be her cover of Soft Cell’s mournful Say Hello, Wave Goodbye (the best way to end any show ever, surely?) and her melancholy version of Bowie’s Ashes to Ashes, a song she takes by the scruff of the ruff and makes her own. Beautiful.
The second half moves on from the 1980s to concentrate on the “whatever happened to” bit of the show. She alleges a cocaine habit, a period of rehab in the Priory alongside MC Hammer (“U Can’t Touch This? Well, I did!”), affairs with Marco Pierre White and Heston Blumenthal, an unrequited fascination with Delia Smith, and even a dalliance with rap music (to paraphrase: “They say rap was invented in the Bronx, but the Welsh have been doing it for yonks” – genius!).
Richards is stylistically adept too – she moves from the aforementioned rap (reassuringly unconvincing) to an amusingly embittered attack on Barbra Streisand (yes, she dares!) and even tackles music hall with the hilarious Only a Glass of Champagne.
But there are parts of this second half that don’t quite gel as well, notably the assertion that she dubbed the Welsh language version of the Teletubbies (the fact she dubbed Po and not the more obvious LaLa doesn’t quite pay off) and her sojourn on P&O cruises supporting Danny LaRue. It may well be true (and a little research proves that it is), but it’s just not funny or sensational enough to raise the smiles and titters of the earlier material.
Whether Lowri-Ann really did conceive her daughter with the deacon who oversaw Danny LaRue’s funeral (while spreadeagled on the altar) is just as debatable as whether she really did act as vocal coach for Linda McCartney, but the fact she became a mother is made unequivocal when her daughter Daisy Bell joins the stage to perform one of her own songs. Some might question the inclusion of Daisy Bell: is it a proud-as-punch mum giving her little girl a cheeky plug, or is it a perfectly valid part of the show because Daisy Bell is an important part of Lowri-Ann’s life story? You could argue either way, but if it’s good enough for Kate Bush to wheel her son Bertie out at live gigs, or Tori Amos to have duets with her daughter Natashya on her records, then surely LaLa Shockette can do it too?
The show ends rather abruptly by indicating that the show simply goes on, her story is not over, and that there’s always more to come. If even 50% of what Richards claims to have done in her life so far is true, then we’re certainly in for an eventful, exciting and downright naughty sequel show in 30 years time. I hope so, because Lowri-Ann Richards is a ball of crackling talent and energy, and LaLa Shockette doesn’t deserve to be retired just yet.
BROADWAY BABY REVIEW, EDINBURGH FRINGE FESTIVAL 2014
by Sue Denham on 21st August 2014
If ever there was an appropriate time to say “I’ll have whatever she’s drinking”, it would be after watching the mini-tornado that is Lowri-Ann Richards perform her Edinburgh show, Whatever Happened to LaLa Shockette.
LaLa is perhaps an exaggerated caricature of Richards, but the basis in truth for much of this story makes it all the more interesting.
The subtitle of the show, Icon of the 1980s, tells you pretty much everything you need to know. Looking back at a career working – and sleeping – with a list of names that reads like a veritable Who’s Who of the New Romantic movement, Richards wraps songs, video and old photos around anecdotes to weave a slickly-delivered portrait of her alter ego, LaLa Shockette. Quite where the line is drawn between real-life performer and the character she’s created is pretty blurred, for much of this stuff is autobiographic. Richards’ did actually co-found the pop group Shock; she has appeared alongside Gary Numan at Wembley and she was a member of the band Tight Fit. LaLa is perhaps an exaggerated caricature of Richards, but the basis in truth for much of this story makes it all the more interesting.
Richards is an engaging performer, not just because the tales she spins are so engrossing, but also because her personality is so magnetic. A siren of cabaret, Richards is so comfortable with her audience you wouldn’t be surprised if she announced at the end of the set, “the mini-bus is outside – now let’s all go to the club” in that rich North Welsh accent she adopts for LaLa.
It’s an evening for an audience of a certain age, it has to be said. Anyone who doesn’t know the relationship between a pencil and a cassette tape would be a bit bemused by the references to Steve Strange and the Blitz Club. But as someone fast approaching 50, I lapped it up with fond memories of some of the fashion crimes I made flouncing up Charing Cross Road with a Walkman the size of a house brick and my hair so awful I’m pretty sure it now features in its own Buzzfeed article. Great days.
By Sue Denham
Sue is a playwright who has been involved with fringe theatre for over 30 years. She is also one of the longest-serving members of the reviewing team, having joined Broadway Baby in the first year of operation.
Y CYMRO Paul Griffiths
Theatre Reviews / Adolygiadau Theatr
Wednesday, 20 August 2014 / Gwenar, 29 Awst 2014
ED FRINGE 2014 : Whatever Happened to LaLa Shockette : VENUE 43 ★★★★★
If Edinburgh is all about your star rating, ‘Whatever Happened to LaLa Shockette’ has the ability to dazzle, not only by the brilliance of Lowri-Ann Richards comic routine, but also the abundance of well known 80’s pop icons, she’s bonked and bumped into, over the years. From her humble Welsh beginnings, beautifully captured by her opening number, the purity soon descends into a colorful and complicated life, ending up at the Priory. I recognized Lowri-Ann from her early-televised comedy shows on S4C (Channel 4 Wales) in the nineties, long after her eclectic alter ego ‘LaLa Shockette’ had outshone even Danny La Rue (having only achieved one ‘La’!) from Soho to Wembley. Boy George, the McCartney’s, Steve Strange… chefs Heston and Marco (and even Delia!) are only a taster of what lies between her photomontage of memories and videos. Combined with a smooth and slick running technical show (including a follow spot, two dancers, piano and a glitter bomb!), the stories (and tears) fall off the hat stand as easy and colorful as the costumes. A star filled brilliant cabaret, in a not so brilliant venue.
Ac wyneb cyfarwydd arall (o’r gorfennol) a lwyddodd i odro Pump Seren hawdd ond haeddiannol iawn,oedd yr actores o Gricieth, Lowri-Ann Richards, a’i sioe un dyn(es) Whatever happened to LaLa Shockette? O gyfresi cynnar S4C fel Newydd Bob Nos a sawl drama unigol,’rwyn ei chofio,ond wyddwn i ddim am yr alter-ego anhygoel,a’r llu o straeon ac eiconau pop o’r 80au,a syrthiodd o dan ei stiletos ac fu’n cadw cwmni iddi ar lwyfannau o Soho i Wembley. Drwy gymorth sgrin fidio enfawr,a llyfrgell o luniau a ffilmiau o’r cyfnod, fe agorwyd dyddiadur o atgofion ac anturiaethau LaLa oedd yn cynnwys eiconau fel Boy George, y Mc Cartneys, Steve Strange….cogyddion amlwg fel Heston a Marco(a Delia hyd yn oed!) hyd at hwylio’r moroedd yng ghwmni Danny La Rue oedd yn eiddigeddus iawn am fod ganddi ddwy La yn ei henw! Drwy gan a dawns lliwgar, llanwyd y llwyfan a phresenoldeb hoffus LaLa i ddiddanu cynulleidfa,ac roedd ei gwaith caled yn gwbl amlwg. Gwych iawn eto a Chymro balch iawn oedd y cerdded strydoedd Caeredin,weddill yr wyl.l.
REVIEW ‘WHATEVER HAPPENED TO LALA SHOCKETTE?’
At: The St James Theatre, London. SW1
Reviewed by Aline Waites
“Lowri-Ann female singing clown”
La La Shockette is the alter ego of actress Lowri-Ann Richards and it derives from her involvement in the glamorous New Romantic Band ‘Shock’ in the nineteen eighties. She also had a couple of top ten hits in another band ‘Tight Fit’. Sadly the New Romantics were completely wiped out when ‘Grunge’ appeared on the pop scene.
In her mixed media solo show, she explores her rock’n’roll life with enormous humour and without sparing any of the details as pictures of her lovers and her past indiscretions flash up on the screen. . This is a totally revealing production and she tells us the facts of her life with satire and honesty.
She enters as a dominatrix dressed from head to foot in black leather singing a song in her native Welsh. She starts to remove her leathers, revealing a bustier and like a stripper gram she attacks a man in the front row and gets the audience to sing Happy Birthday to him. This sets up the outrageous atmosphere of her show perfectly.
Lowri-Ann is a female clown with an expressive face and exceptional singing voice and she makes the most of her comedy – although occasionally one would like her to drop the comic edge and give us the benefit of her beautiful voice. Her first act concentrates on songs from the eighties including David Bowie’s ‘Ashes to Ashes’ (Better not mess with Major Tom). ‘One way or another’ she sings with passion ‘I’m gonna find you’ she says flashing a searchlight around the audience. One of the most effective items is ‘Wuthering heights’ by Kate Bush which she sings very beautifully but cannot resist injecting little jokes along the way.
She closes her first act with a dramatic rendering of ‘Cocaine Lil’ making no secret of the fact that she herself was addicted to Cocaine and spent time in Rehab
In the second act she drifts away from the eighties into Noel Coward, Rodgers and Hart and English music hall. She tells us that after rehab she gave up theatrical lovers in favour of an obsession with celebrity chefs – and she sings ‘Bewitched Bothered and Bewildered’ to a picture of Delia Smith. Probably my favourite quote is her take on ‘People who need people are the Yuckiest people in the world’.
Also in Act two she mentions Danny La Rue who she worked with and who gave her the sequin dress she is wearing. He asked her to sing at his funeral ‘Pie Jesu’ which she repeats in her act. Again I would be happier if she sang it seriously in a single spot because her singing is really outstanding.
Near the end of her set she gives up the stage to her talented daughter Daisy Bell who sings very sweetly to a guitar without a trace of send up. As Lowri-Ann says, ‘She is the Deacon’s daughter.’
And the finale celebrates her Welshness once again with ‘Do not go Gentle into that Good Night’ from the poem by Dylan Thomas. This is a show for people who do not have sentimentality in their makeup but who can appreciate real sentiment.
INTERVIEW: LOWRI-ANN RICHARDS
by Spencer Bright
Lowri-Ann Richards joined the throng on the King’s Road one day in 1979 to admire the robotic mime dancers in the window of The Liberated Lady boutique.
A dazzlingly beautiful aspiring actress fresh out of drama college she had managed to get an Equity card as a professional disco dancer touring Mecca clubs and ballrooms from Sunderland to Birmingham.
What she saw in that shop window seemed far more current and exciting than disco, so in she went with her boyfriend and dancing partner Robert Pereno. They connected with the robotic dancers, Tim Dry and Barbie Wilde, and with other performers the dance/mime/vocal group Shock was soon formed.
‘We met and thought we would do a show together, us dancing and them doing mime and robotics,’ says LA. ‘Our look was sort of disco bondage. We wore Liberated Lady, all suspenders, corsets, short skirts, thigh boots. The boys would wear clothes from Johnson’s, pointy shoes, spangly trousers. And we’d get bondage stuff from a sex shop nearby in The Great Gear Market. The act was very sexual, but we’d go home and have a cup of tea. We were very middle class, it was all an act.’
At the time the tectonic plates of youth culture were shifting. Punk and disco were fading. The punk high priest and priestess Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood were soon to mutate their shop Seditionaries into Worlds End. They were a few doors from The Liberated Lady who were next door to Johnson’s, slick purveyors of rockabilly and 50s rock and roll tailoring. Across town in Covent Garden were the rumblings of a new movement, the New Romantics based at the Blitz Club.
The country itself was in transition with the election in 1979 of Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minister. Oddly enough she lived off the King’s Road, though the scene on her doorstep literally passed her by.
She would no doubt have approved of Lowri-Ann’s upbringing on a farm in North Wales, reciting extracts from The Bible in her native Welsh language in chapel on Sundays and performing at Eisteddfods. Lowri-Ann always loved performing and at boarding school won prizes for her performances of speeches from Romeo and Juliet and Antigone.
She had fallen into a different world when she landed in London in 1976, immediately meeting fellow drama student Robert Pereno, who was to be her boyfriend for nine years. Lowri-Ann was an adventurous young woman, attracted to a hedonistic lifestyle and edgy artistic people. But the chapel girl was still in her. ‘I like wild and creative men but I was quite stable. I had steeliness about me.
‘They were exciting times. One minute we’d be at mime artist Lindsay Kemp’s beautiful house and the next backstage at an Elton John gig. I was just part of a decadent Chelsea set, there was no calculation, I just fell into it and became part of it.’
Shock was a successful act. After becoming a staple at the Blitz they went on to headline the Lyceum, support Depeche Modes and had a ten-day residency at the Ritz in New York. Comically they found themselves playing topless bars in Thailand. They signed a deal with RCA Records and were produced by Rusty Egan, DJ at the Blitz and member of Visage and Richard Burgess, who produced Spandau Ballet. But their singles did not sell.
Pleasure and the Beast, formed by LA and Pereno after Shock’s demise, were in a similar vein with an even more exotic show with cages, snakes and fire eaters. They toured endlessly and had a record deal, and wore themselves out.
LA is looking back on it all now – days she barely survived thanks to her cocaine and speed addiction – through the eyes of a 53-year-old mother of two teenagers, having recently graduated with a master’s degree in the training of actors. We can look back on it with her as part of the audience for her one-woman cabaret show Whatever Happened To LaLa Shockette?
‘Her story mirrors my own life. She is a version of me,’ says LA. LaLa speaks with a Welsh accent, the accent LA would have if she hadn’t gone to boarding school and drama school. LaLa is also a bit more naïve and wide-eyed and doesn’t like to take life too seriously. Flickering on a screen during her show are images of LA’s life.
Some of LaLa’s tales are fictions, like the supposed affair with Gary Numan, though Shock did support him at Wembley Arena. Some are true, like her briefly alluded to affair with chef Marco Pierre White, though not a subsequent liaison with Heston Blumenthal who really did sleep on her and Marco’s couch. She did work with Paul McCartney on his movie Give My Regards To Broad Street. He measured her up for her costume placing his tape measure round her shapely hips. And though it is not documented in the show, LA became a well-known actress in Wales appearing in sitcoms and soap operas and had her own TV show called Pyrfformiad (Performance).
It is a funny and moving ride through her past, and though there is a sad undercurrent, she chooses not to dwell on it on stage. ‘There’s a lot of pathos and a lot of comedy,’ she says. What she does not mention in the act is that she nearly died during her walk on the wild side.
‘There was a lot of coke, it was just part of the scene. There were a lot of people strung out for days on end. I used a lot of speed and coke mixed. That was very linked in with it being an appetite suppressant.
‘Drug use for me was what I did every day and I would use first thing in the morning. I didn’t see anything wrong with it. it was dangerous and I knew it was killing me and I knew that I had to stop, and so I did, and I still couldn’t function.
‘At the end of Pleasure and the Beast I couldn’t work as an actress any more. I would turn up at film sets and they’d find me in wardrobes, I’d be asleep. I was thrown off sets.’
‘I stopped using, I white knuckled it, I put the drugs down on my own, but I couldn’t function with the drug inside and without the drug inside. I knew I had to sort myself out, but I didn’t go for help. Instead my addictions went sideways and I went into food. I put on weight. I understood I had a psychological dependence and I had to sort that out. I learnt that it wasn’t just a physical dependence for me.’
Help came in the form of Marco Pierre White who she went out with for nine months after splitting from Robert Pereno in 1986. She introduced Marco to his great friend fashion photographer Bob Carlos Clarke. Some of Carlos Clarke’s most striking erotic portraits are of Lowri-Ann, one in particular called Doll wearing a 1950s style rubber girdle and bra designed by Daniel James, then just making his name.
Marco helped her seek professional help for her drug and eating issues. Their relationship was over by the time she entered the Charter Nightingale Clinic in Marylebone in 1987.
After rehab she abandoned the Chelsea set and her wild ways and became a jobbing actress and performer, working on cruise ships and revived Victorian music halls. She does a music hall turn as LaLa Shockette.
‘I’m revisiting parts of my life. I wanted to find a vehicle to put over my story and the easiest thing was to create a character who had done some off centre things like I had, but why let the truth get in the way of a good story. There’s a bit of S&M and a bit of music hall, a little bit of dancing and plenty of costume changes, and a lot of laughs and outrageous stories. I call it a stand-up cabaret show.
‘If there’s anything I’ve learnt it is that it doesn’t matter what you do so long as you do it. People find their way again, which I feel I have.’
LALA SHOCKETTE HERALD GYMRAEG 29 IONAWR 2014
Yr wythnos hon bydd perfformiad yn digwydd yn Llundain, ddim yng Nghymru, a go brin bydd y perfformiad yn digwydd yng Nghymru onibai fod rhywun yn rhywle yn cael gweledigaeth. Ac eto mae’n berfformiad sydd yn ymwneud a Chymreictod mewn un ystyr, efallai gallwn awgrymu fod y perfformaid yn ymwneud a ‘dianc o bentref bychan’. Rydym ddigon cyfarwydd a’r stori hon, rhywun ac angerdd, rhywun ac ysbryd rhydd, rhywun sydd isho gweld y Byd a mae agweddau’r pentref bach neu Gefn Gwlad yn eu rhwystro, eu rhwystro rhag cael byw.
Efallai mae stori am rwystredigaeth yr arddegau yw hon felly, a’r unigolyn, yr ysbryd rhydd, yn penderfynu ‘troi cefn’ ar gefn gwlad a mentro i’r ‘Ddinas fawr ddrwg’. Cyfarwydd ynde. Bellach wrthgwrs mae pobl ifanc Cymru ac yn sicr pobl ifanc Cymraeg eu hiaith yn dilyn y llwybr yma heb unrhyw awgrym o rwystredigaeth na gwrthryfela drwy symud i Gaerdydd. Mae hon wedyn, y stori ddiweddar, yn un dra wahannol.
Nid ‘rebals’ sydd yn heidio o Wynedd, Llyn a Mon i Gaerdydd ond y dosbarth canol uchelgeisiol, ar eu ffordd i ‘Cyfryngisville’, fel awgrymodd Joe Strummer yn y gan ‘Career Oppportunities, “Do you wanna make tea at the BBC”. Yr ateb Joe yw, yn amlwg ydynt, ond fod gwenud te bellach yn gyfystyr a bod yn gynhyrchydd radio. A dyma fi yn swnio fel Adferwr. Cofiwch fe ddaw nifer yn ol mewn amser i fagu teulu, bydd tynfa y mynydd, y corsdir a’r llynnoedd yn ormod i rai yn sicr.
O fewn cyd-destyn ehangach diwylliannol rydym yn troedio llwybr cyfarwydd iawn, fel llwybrau TH Parry-Williams o amgylch Llyn y Gadair, Rhyd Ddu. Rydym yn gyfarwydd a’r cynefin yma, rhiad dianc er mwyn byw, rhaid gadael y cyfarwydd a’r culni llesteiriol. Ond y cyfarwydd hefyd yw’r olygfa un-llygeidiog, cul iawn, sydd i’w gael o “ddiwylliant” yn y cyd-destyn Cymreig, (Cymraeg a Chymreig).
Dyma sydd yn poeni rhywun, rydym mewn pentref heb fawr o ffenestri, felly rhan yn unig o’r olygfa sydd i’w weld. Rydym yn edrych dros y mynyddoedd heb weld na throed na chopa, dim ond rhwng 500 troedfedd a 2,995 troedfedd sydd yn cael ei ganiatau ganddyn “Nhw”. Yn y cyd –destyn yma y “Nhw”, anweledig ond holl bresennol, yw’r consensws, yr hyn rydym yn ei dderbyn y ddi-gwestiwn yn y Gymru Gymraeg, er mae lle i ddadlau fod yna “Nhw” go iawn hefyd, fel y ‘Maffia’ ac i ddyfynnu can arall, gan Paul Weller y tro yma, “The people want what the people get”.
Yr hyn sydd yn poeni rhywun hefyd yw fod hyn yn ymddangos bron yn gynllwyn drwy gytundeb, rydym yn fodlon hefo’r ddiffyg ffenestri, ychydig iawn sydd, nid yn unig am wthio’r ffiniau, ond sydd yn gweld yr angen am wthio’r ffiniau yn y lle cyntaf. Ac eto, ac eto, o ran dadansoddi’r Gymru Gymraeg ol-Fethodistaidd, onid yw hyn yn ei hyn yn cynnig maes ymchwil hynod ddiddorol i rhywun. Rydym yn ol ar lwybr cyfarwydd corsiog ‘Hanes Cymdeithasol’ yn y cyd-destyn Cymreig.
Felly beth am gyrraedd y pwynt, sioe lwyfan y gantores, actores a’r ymryddawn Lowri Ann Richards. Gynt o Gricieth, er fod y broliant yn dweud iddi ddod a Llanfairpwll (fersiwn llawn), ond rhaid wrth ddrama wrth reswm, dyma’r sioe lwyfan ““Whatever Happened to LaLa Shockette?”
Rhaid fod Lowri Ann wedi diolch i’r hollalluog am gael yr enw Lowri Ann a oedd yn canitau iddi drawsnewid y ferch o Gricieth i’r ferch ‘Blitz Kids’ / ‘New Romantics’ gan fedyddio ei hyn yn “L.A Richards”, llawer mwy ‘rhamantaidd’. Y tro cyntaf i mi ddod ar draws L.A Richards oedd ar dudalennau cylchgrawn The Face ddechrau’r 80au yn goesau i gyd ac yn rhan o’r grwp ‘Shock’. Sgwennais amdani yn y Faner, yn union fel heddiw, yn falch o weld rhyw elfen arall o ddiwyliiant a rhyw gysylltiad Cymreig – rhywbeth oedd yn ymestyn ffiniau.
Yn ystod cyfnod Y Faner roedd delweddau L.A Richards yn eitha ‘rhywiol’ o gymharu ac unrhywbeth oedd yn y Byd Pop Cymraeg ac efallai fod rhywun yn gweld angen am rhywbeth mwy deniadol, rhywiol, ffasiynol na’r arferol denim, denim, denim. Yr enwog Gruff Rhys o’r Super Furry Animals’s fathodd y genhedlaeth yna yn “Deinasoriaid Denim” – does neb wedi gallu rhagori ar y disgrifiad hynny, nid hyd yn oed David R Edwards hefo “wastad yn mynd i Lydaw byth yn mynd i Ffrainc”.
Ond pwynt hyn i gyd, wel mae Lowri Ann wedi mentro ar liwt ei hyn i ddweud stori, y stori, drwy gyfrwng sioe lwyfan. Cofnod o gyfnod sydd prin wedi cyffwrdd a’r Byd traddodiadol Cymraeg. Stori sydd ddim at ddant melys a cheidwadol y rheini sydd am wneud y te, ond os mae dyna’r ddadl dyddiau’r Faner, dyna’r ddadl hefyd heddiw – rhaid ymestyn ffiniau a sicrhau fod popeth (ar gael) yn Gymraeg neu oleiaf yn cael ei drafod.
Y ddadl yw, fod hyn i gyd yn Hanes Cymdeithasol, mae’n bwysig fod yr hanes allan yna yn rhywle, a fel LaLa Shockette yn gadael y LlanfairPG dychmygol, rhaid i rhywun yn rhywle sicrhau nad yw culni ac un llygeidiaeth yn ein trechu rhag cael gwell golygfa o’r mynyddoedd – troed a chopa !
LOWRI-ANN RICHARDS: CABARET PERFORMER
Welsh actress, singer, cabaret and music hall performer Lowri-Ann Richards trained at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art and also has an MA in actor coaching from Central School of Speech and Drama. Her pop-infused cabaret show Whatever Happened to LaLa Shockette? is based on her colourful life, which includes chart success and interactions with names as diverse as Steve Strange and Danny La Rue
What first attracted you to performing?
A lot of Welsh people will pour out the eisteddfod or chapel slogan but at a very, very young age my sister and I really did have to learn verses from the Bible in high or complicated Welsh and recite them at chapel. Performing or learning poetry or singing on your own at a very early age is what Welsh people just did; I sang in eisteddfods. I had very good drama and singing teachers at school and regularly won speech and drama festivals. I got into Webber Douglas at 18 and that was it.
Did you have any formal music training?
I studied with the opera singer Jeffrey Talbot. He’s a bit of a secret but a lot of West End people go to him. He was signed to EMI and called ‘the Golden Voice’. People study with him and don’t go to, say, the Royal Academy. He gave me a very good classical grounding.
How did you start doing music hall?
I did the pop business and was really fortunate that I did a lot of telly – sitcoms and Welsh soaps – for about 10 years after drama school. It was nice money but the work started to dip slightly and I got a job doing old-fashioned music hall at the Players’ Theatre and was with them for years. I did four American tours with them. It was just gorgeous. And I did a lot at Brick Lane Music Hall.
Shockette is quite personal. Was that your intention?
I’ve done a lot of things in my life. You can tell your story through song, but I didn’t want it to be predictable. I wanted to do something different and interesting and also to put the audience slightly on the back foot. So I feed them information and then back that up with a visual of some sort, which may or may not be true. It’s clearly not me because I talk in a fairly outlandish North Wales accent, but parts of it are personal. I’m interested in keeping an audience guessing.
What has been your career highlight so far?
I’ve sailed round the world three times on the trot. I’ve certainly worked with some amazing people – I played Sian Phillips’ daughter in the musical Summer Silence – but Shockette I really love because it pulls all my skills together. I’d love a run in a venue like the Trafalgar Studios and to tour it.
“Lowri Ann female singing clown” – By Aline Waites
‘Interview: Lowri-Ann Richards’ by Spencer Bright, Beauty and the Dirt
‘LaLa Shockette Herald Gymraeg 29 Ionawr 2014’ by Thoughts of Chairman Mwyn
‘Lowri-Ann Richards: cabaret performer’ by Liz Arratoon, TheStage.co.uk