A LIFE OF SONG AND DANCE

By Marianne Welsh (nee Price)

 

EARLY BEGINNINGS

I was an only child and lived in Suffield Road, then Moorefield Road, Arnold Road and finally The Roundway in Tottenham. (I was born Marian Price but later changed my name to Marianne Price when I was 24). My father Edward (Ted) Price was a painter and decorator though he did work for a time at Lebus's furniture factory in Tottenham.  My mum Ivy, had various job, including being a waitress and then a machinist.   I remember when growing up as a small child loving my mum taking me to the Homemade Sweet Shop in Seven Sisters Road to watch the sweets being made and to buy some.  The owner's daughter was one of the children in the stage show ‘The Sound of Music’ and Jean Bayless who played Maria lived in Arnold Road.  

SCHOOLDAYS

I went to Downhills Infants, then the Junior School and Belmont Secondary Modern, though I was also a part time student at Ivy Calvert's School of Speech & Drama whilst at Belmont.  I owe a lot to Ivy Calvert, she nurtured me and brought out the actress in me, without her I doubt I would have achieved what I did in the theatre.  Other students who did well were Leo Wringer who is a distinguished actor and has worked in the West End and on TV and Deirdre Forrest who started as an actress then became a top voice teacher teaching mainly A list stars and then returned to being an actress.

Ted Willis, Tottenham lad who wrote Dixon of Dock Green was a lovely man. He was patron of my drama school in Tottenham and in my final year I won the Ted Willis award for drama. Ted was lovely and gave me a signed copy of his memoir ‘Whatever Happened to Tom Mix’ for my parents.

 

EARLY STAGE CAREER

I started out as a semi-professional singer at 15 singing in working men's clubs like Tottenham Trades Hall and the TL&R club, where I also sang with Mike Reid of Eastenders fame.

T.L & R  CLUB - TOTTENHAM

My professional career started out in the original tour of the hit musical ‘Hair’, in 1970, I then went into the London show at the Shaftesbury Theatre for two years and then into the original London production of the musical ‘Grease’, understudying and performing the role of Sandy opposite Richard Gere. in 1974 I performed leading roles at the Theatre Royal Stratford East and sang solo in their famous Sunday cabaret shows. In 1975 I played the role of Jenny Diver in ‘The Threepenny Opera’ at the Bristol Old Vic which also had Gemma Craven in it. In 1975 I was in the ‘Hair’ revival at Her Majesty's Theatre playing the part of Jeannie.



 

ORIGINAL PHOTOGRAPHS FROM THE WEST  END STAGE SHOW  'BILLY' STARRING MICHAEL CRAWFORD AND FEATURING MARIANNE PRICE
(Billy was the stage musical adaptation of the film 'BILLY LIAR')


Photo by Alamy


PICTURED ABOVE - MARIANNE PRICE  AND DANCE ROUTINE ALONGSIDE MICHAEL CRAWFORD

 

TOTTENHAM HERALD REVIEWS

It’s always nice to see the ’Local Girl Does Good’ type of review in your local newspaper and the story of Marianne Price’s success was no exception and warmly received back in the early 1970’s.




 

ROYAL VARIETY SHOW 1975 – LONDON PALLADIUM

I was very proud to receive an invitation to perform in the 1975 Royal Variety Performance alongside the rest of the ‘Billy’ cast.  I chatted to Count Basie, Telly Savalas and Charles Aznavour.  Other famous stars performing included Dame Vera Lynn, Harry Secombe, Bruce Forsyth and the cast of Dad's Army who were in the stage show of the same name. It was a very famous Royal Variety.





 

WEST END SHOWS

 In 1975 I took over the role of Rita from Elaine Paige in Billy at Theatre Royal Drury Lane opposite Michael Crawford then Roy Castle for nine months, also at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane. I was to work with Roy Castle again in 1977 playing the part of Annie Larkins in Ted Willis's ‘The History of Mr. Polly’, at the Churchill Theatre Bromley.

 After that I was in a play with music about the Kray twins at the Cochrane Theatre, Holborn. I played the wife of Reggie Kray, Bob Hoskins played Ronnie and I had a duet with him. 

Subsequent roles include being in ‘The Rocky Horror Show’, cover to the female lead in Bruce Forsyth's Travelling Music Show at Her Majesty's Theatre, the sister of ‘Evita’ in the hit musical at the Prince Edward Theatre and playing Miss Kepplewhite in ‘Little Me’ alongside Russ Abbot.  I was also in other well known shows such as ‘Elvis the Musical’ and ‘Buddy’.




HER DEBUT AS THE UNDERSTUDY LEAD ROLE – LITTLE ME



An original souvenir mug from the show ‘Buddy’ when performed In the 90’s (Alan Swain)



THE POSTERS ABOVE ARE FOR ILLUSTRATION PURPOSES AND NOT NECESSARILY  VALID FOR THE TIME MARIANNE PERFORMED IN THESE SHOWS.

 

ONGOING CAREER

In 1975 I appeared on the TV show ‘The Good Old Days’ which was filmed at the City Variety Theatre in Leeds. At that time, I had the same theatre agent as actress Julia McKenzie who I expect you know came from Edmonton and I think attended Tottenham County School, and we were both appearing on this very popular TV show. I had two solo songs and Julia one. Val Doonican topped the bill. We stayed overnight and the next day travelled back to London with our agent by train, we had a separate compartment, (I think first class), and a corridor outside.  It took quite a time to get back in  1975 and we had lunch on the train in our private compartment, silver service. So, when I do my theatre talks, I tell my audience that I had lunch on a train with Miss Marple and there was no dead body to be found!

I was a main character named Eileen Hobbs in the popular TV show Crossroads for a while in 1986, and in a long drama series called Funny Man based on the life of Jimmy Jewel who starred in it. I have also been in rep, two films and interviewed on Radio 4 including Caroline Quentin in a series called ‘Take it from the Chorus’ as we both started in the chorus.

I have also appeared in cabaret working alongside Mike Reid, been on radio, in Films and TV working with Alfred Marks, Jean Boht, Arthur English and Lynda Bellingham.

 Four years ago, I played Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard up here in Southport for a limited run.

 KEEPING BUSY IN RETIREMENT

I have now lived in Southport on the coast in Merseyside for over 14 years. Last June I sang in the French Riviera when I did a solo spot with a jazz duo. I also work as a public and after dinner speaker in Merseyside and West Lancs.

Other activities include being a local government councillor here for eight years and on the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority which I enjoyed.

Marianne now has yet another string to her bow as a celebrated writer. Her collection of short stories 'The Woman of Stencils and other stories' were published in October 2020. She has since written her first novel 'Rylands' that was published in August 2022.  

 

 

Original article written by Marianne Welsh and website page prepared by Alan Swain - January 2024