Interview: Tony Ramsey, master carpenter at the Globe (now Gielgud Theatre), 1961-1994, part 1

26th May 2016

Tony Ramsey
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INTERVIEW: TONY RAMSEY. (Part 1 of 2). At the Gielgud Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue, the former master carpenter at the theatre (when it was the Globe) talks to Dominic Cavendish about his five decade-long career back-stage out on the road and at the heart of theatreland. In the first section of reminiscences he outlines the job requirements, revisits his early youth in the war, recalls the challenges of touring with two goats in a production of White Horse Inn, and helping out Maggie Smith with a DIY job. Full CV below. Recorded: 18-05-2016.

“In those days you didn’t travel from theatre to theatre in a lorry. You had to load it all onto a train…Very often as you were coming off a train there’d be another lot coming in. Were we treated as a world apart? It’s always been a bit Upstairs Downstairs.”

1940s: Her Majesty’s Theatre, Carlisle 1942. Worked spotlight;drove van, etc. STARDUST– joined tour [Jack Taylor Ltd] 1943; Kilburn Empire–asst carpenter; head flyman 1944. Called up for Army; trained Edinburgh & Catterick. Sent to Palestine, Court Martial Centre Sarafand as Driver; then Driver to Commander, S. Palestine dist. DEMOBBED 1948; White Rock Theatre, Hastings 1948, Pantomime; COCONUT GROVE revue–Hippodrome, Blackpool 1949;

1950s: WHITE HORSE INN joined tour, Birmingham 1950, Property Master,; BRIGADOON–tour [Prince Littler] 1952; CALL ME MADAM–Coliseum [Jack Hylton] 1952; KISS ME, KATE–tour [Jack Hylton] 1953;  SOUTH PACIFIC–tour, from Drury Lane 1955; THE KING & I–tour, from Drury Lane 1956; PAJAMA GAME–tour from Coliseum 1957; TIME & AGAIN–Lunt & Fontaine [H.M.Tennent] 1958; IRMA LA DOUCE–tour, into Lyric [H.M.Tennent] 1958; A TICKLISH BUSINESS–short tour, into Lyric 1958 [H.M.Tennent]; THESE PEOPLE, THOSE BOOKS–tour 1958 [Macdonald & Stevens]; WEST SIDE STORY–tour, into Her Majestys 1958 [H.M.Tennent]; Piccadilly Theatre–Carpenter 1959

1960s: Piccadilly Theatre–Carpenter TOYS IN THE ATTIC 1960 (Hon. Jeffrey Russell. Taken over by Albery;Gave in notice); THE THREE MUSKETEERS [French import] 1960; Globe Theatre: Master Carpenter. April 1961; THE REHEARSAL–GLOBE [H.M.Tennent] 1961; MY FAIR LADY–tour fit-ups; 2 companies 1963 [H.M.Tennent] -64; THE TIGER & THE TYPIST–tour, into GLOBE 1964 [H.M.Tennent]; MARY, MARY–tour, into GLOBE [H.M.Tennent] 1964; FORMATION DANCERS—from Arts Theatre 1964 [Codron]; LADY WINDERMERE’S FAN–tour, into Phoenix 1966 [H.M.Tennent]; THERE’S A GIRL IN MY SOUP–GLOBE 1966-70; MERCHANT OF VENICE–tour, into Haymarket 1967 [H.M.Tennent]; THE RIVALS–tour, into Haymarket 1968; HELLO, DOLLY–Production Carpenter, Drury Lane 1968; BATTLE OF THE SHRIVINGS–Brighton, into Lyric 1969 [H.M.Tennent]; CAT AMONG THE PIGEONS–tour, into P.o.W. 1969 [H.M.Tennent]; THE MAGISTRATE –Cambridge Theatre 1969; Ibiza Festival: Citadel, Open Air–3 shows alternating 1970 [T.S.L. Ltd]

1970s: BEQUEST TO THE NATION–Haymarket 1970 [H.M.Tennent]; PATRICK PEARCE MOTEL–tour, into Queens 1971 [H.M.Tennent]; WEST OF SUEZ–tour, into Cambridge Theatre 1971 [H.M.Tennent]; DEAR ANTOINE–Piccadilly [H.M.Tennent] 1971; CHANGING ROOM–GLOBE 1971?; GODSPELL–Roundhouse, tour, into Wyndhams 1972 [H.M.Tennent]; ME TIMES ME TIMES ME–tour [H.M.Tennent] 1972; Marlene Dietrich–New London (TV) [Delfont] 1972; MOTHER LOCKED ME IN THE CUPBOARD– 1972 tour, into Lyric Hammsmth [H.M.Tennent]; POPKISS–GLOBE [Albery] 1972; MY FAT FRIEND–GLOBE [Michael Codron] 1972; TOUCH OF PURPLE–GLOBE [Bill Kenwright] 1972; WHAT IF YOU DIED TOMORROW?–Comedy 1973 [H.M.Tennent]; Marlene Dietrich–Southport Floral Hall opening 1973; NO, NO NANETTE–Drury Lane [H.M.Tennent] 1973; CHRYSLER TRADE SHOW–Drury Lane, Manchester, 1973 Edinburgh; COLLABORATORS–Duchess [Michael Codron] 1973; PRIVATE LIVES–Queens, into GLOBE 1973 [H.M.Tennent]; THE CARD–Queens [Cam Mackintosh] 1973; THE BEVELLERS–Shaw Theatre [Lyceum, Edinburgh] Oct. 1973 {met Abbe–was drama student ‘observer’}; REUNION IN VIENNA– [H.M.Tennent] 1973; GYPSY–Piccadilly [H.M.Tennent] 1973; SUZANNA ANDLER–tour, into Aldwych 1973 [H.M.Tennent]; CHEZ NOUS–GLOBE 1973; CACTUS FLOWER–Lyric [H.M.Tennent] 1974; NORMAN CONQUESTS–GLOBE 1974 [Michael Codron]; BLOOMSBURY–Phoenix [H.M.Tennent] 1974; DEADEYED DICKS–Dublin, Leeds, Apollo? 1975; THOMAS & THE KING–Her Majestys [H.M.Tennent] 1975; TOO TRUE TO BE GOOD– GLOBE [RSC/Michael White] 1975; THE CHAIRMAN–GLOBE [Michael White] 1976; DAME EDNA: HOUSEWIFE, SUPERSTAR–GLOBE 1976 [Michael White]; DONKEY’S YEARS–GLOBE [Michael Codron] 1976 * BEERBOHM joined us! * -78; FUNNY PECULIAR–Garrick 1976; JUST BETWEEN OURSELVES–Apollo 1977 [H.M.Tennent] YAHOO–Bath, into Queens [Michael Codron] 1977; BELLS OF HELL– [Michael Codron] 1977; FILUMENA–Norwich, Brighton into Lyric [NT] 1977; STAGE STRUCK–Vaudeville 1977; IN PRAISE OF LOVE–Duchess [H.M.Tennent] 1977; CLANDESTINE MARRIAGE– 1978; OLD COUNTRY–Queens [Michael Codron] 1978; WATERS OF THE MOON–tour, into Haymarket 1978 [Triumph]; REAR COLUMN–Richmond, into GLOBE 1978 [Michael Codron]; TEN TIMES TABLE–short tour, into GLOBE 1978 [Michael Codron]; ALICE’S BOYS–Savoy 1978; LA CUBANA–Sadlers Wells 1978; NIGHT & DAY–tour, into Phoenix 1978; DEMIS ROUSSOS–Palladium to Olympia, Paris 1978 [Stoll-Moss]; JOKING APART–Richmond, into GLOBE 1979 [Michael Codron]; TISHOO–Brighton, into Wyndhams 1979 [Michael Codron]; SONGBOOK–GLOBE [Jack Gill] 1979;


1980s: BORN IN THE GARDENS–GLOBE [Knightsbridge] 1980; THE DRESSER–Queens [Michael Codron] 1980; TAKING STEPS–tour, into Lyric [Michael Codron] 1980; ENJOY–Vaudeville [Michael Codron] 1980; TONIGHT AT 8:30–Lyric [Knightsbridge] 1980; HINGE & BRACKET–GLOBE [Michael Codron] 1980; MOVING–Brighton, into Queens [Toby Rowland] 1981; ROWAN ATKINSON IN REVUE–GLOBE 1981 [Michael Codron]; ST MARK’S GOSPEL–GLOBE [H.M.Tennent] 1981; MITFORD GIRLS–GLOBE [John Gale] 1981; PASS THE BUTLER–GLOBE [Michael White] 1982; AMADEUS–National, into HM’s [Stoll] 1982; SEASON’S GREETINGS–Apollo [Michael Codron] 1982; A PERSONAL AFFAIR–GLOBE [John Gale] 1982; WINDY CITY–V. Palace 1982; FUNNY TURN–Duchess [Michael Codron] 1982; DESIGN FOR LIVING–GLOBE [Triumph] 1982; ROCKET TO THE MOON–Apollo [Stoll ] 1982; HAY FEVER–Queens [Peter Baldwin] 1983; DAISY PULLS IT OFF–GLOBE [Lloyd-Webber] 1983; 40 YEARS ON–V.Palace, into Queens 1984 [Peter Baldwin]; EXTREMITIES–Duchess [Peter Baldwin] 1984; A FOOL IN LOVE–Lyric [Peter Baldwin] 1985; LOOK TO THE RAINBOW–Apollo [Peter Baldwin] 1985; GIGI–Lyric [Peter Baldwin] 1985; THE DRAGON’S TAIL–tour, into Apollo 1985 [Peter Baldwin]; CHORUS OF DISAPPROVAL–Lyric 1985 [Peter Baldwin]; LEND ME A TENOR–GLOBE [Really Useful] 1986; ORPHANS–Adelphi [Robert Fox] 1986; PHANTOM OF THE OPERA–HM’s [Lloyd Webber] 1986;LETTICE & LOVAGE–GLOBE [Robert Fox] 1986; GHOSTS–Wyndhams [Peter Baldwin] 1986; LILLIAN–Fortune [Peter Baldwin] 1987; AMEN CORNER–Lyric [Clare & Peter Baldwin] 1987; THURSDAY’S LADIES–Apollo [Toby Rowland] 1987; 70 GIRLS 70–Vaudeville [Michael Codron] 1989; MAN OF THE MOMENT–GLOBE [Michael Codron] 1990


1990s HIDDEN LAUGHTER–Vaudeville [Michael Codron] 1990; PRIVATE LIVES– Bath, into Aldwych 1990; HOUSE OF BERNARDA ALBA–GLOBE 1991; IDEAL HUSBAND–GLOBE 1992