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Anita Harris: Curtain Up, Light the Lights - The Customs House, South Shields

Published by: Steve Burbridge on 21st Jun 2013 | View all blogs by Steve Burbridge

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Anita Harris: Curtain Up, Light the Lights – The Customs House, South Shields

In a career that has spanned five decades, she has topped the bill at the London Palladium and in Las Vegas, released several Top 40 singles, was once the world’s highest-paid cabaret artist, and starred in the Andrew Lloyd-Webber musical, Cats. Indeed, Anita Harris is part of the fabric of British showbiz.

Now, in what is described as “a wonderful cocktail of song, glitz, chat, humour and dance”, Miss Harris takes to the stage in a one-woman show, Curtain Up, Light the Lights, in which she takes the audience on the journey of her life and career through anecdotes and song.

Often, these particular types of show tend to be rather self-indulgent, gushy affairs, staged as nothing more than self-publicity designed to resurrect flagging careers. However, every so often, and when produced well (as in the case of Victor Spinetti: A Very Private Diary Revisited), they can turn out to be fascinating glimpses into extraordinary lives and colourful careers.

Although Miss Harris is not a raconteur of the same league as the late, great Mr Spinetti, she has a warmth, charisma and joi-de-vivre that is both infectious and endearing. Sure, she may come across as being something of a luvvie but, hey-ho, if you’re used to rubbing shoulders with the likes of Alma Cogan, Shirley Bassey, Dusty Springfield and Petula Clark you can be easily forgiven for that!

From being spotted at a London ice rink at the tender age of sixteen to appearing in the iconic Carry On films and performing in seven Royal Command performances via twelve Combined Services Entertainments tours alongside Sir Harry Secombe, Anita Harris delights in sharing a whole host of treasured memories with the audience. Indeed, her list of co-stars reads like a Who’s Who of British light entertainment: Morecambe & Wise; Tommy Cooper; Clive Dunn; Barbara Windsor to name only a few.

Such is the level of affection in which she is held by her loyal and loving fans that even a ‘senior moment’, during which the stunning 71-year-old could not recall the lyrics to a song she sang in a musical version of Peter Pan, only served to elicit even more admiration from them. Miss Harris approached the situation with her characteristic good humour, left the stage to compose herself, returned and carried on like a true professional.

For me, though, she was at her finest when performing a breathtaking rendition of ‘Memory’ from Cats, in which she exuded star quality.

Those who are tempted to see this show in the hope of being privy to a salacious showbiz scandal or two should take note. Harris opts to avoid sensationalist gossip and tawdry titbits in favour of playing it safe and recounting only the most inoffensive of memories. That said, the opportunity to spend a couple of enjoyable hours in the company of one of this country’s best-loved entertainers is reward enough in itself.

Steve Burbridge.

For tour dates and to book tickets, please visit


1 Comment

  • Cameron Lowe
    by Cameron Lowe 5 years ago
    Thanks, Steve. A night in the company of a show-biz legend? What's not to love??
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