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Welcome to music hall’s house of fun

PUBLISHED: 15:28 30 January 2008 | UPDATED: 11:30 01 July 2010

THE Docklands Light Railway or the Blackwall Tunnel might not seem like the gateway to heaven but get over the water to Brick Lane Music Hall in Silvertown and you are guaranteed a special night out.

THE Docklands Light Railway or the Blackwall Tunnel might not seem like the gateway to heaven but get over the water to Brick Lane Music Hall in Silvertown and you are guaranteed a special night out.

Since 2004, Vincent Hayes and a band of dedicated helpers have transformed this deconsecrated church from a lovely but neglected building to a lively East End music hall where good food, laughter and music combine to provide a unique experience, lauded by the likes of Roy Hudd, Barbara Windsor and Danny La Rue.

So successful have they been, that without an advertising budget, or an Arts Council grant, they are taking bookings into 2009, and it is not hard to see why.

Sing-a-long music combines with mouth-watering food to put you in the mood and when Vincent and Chris Emmett take to the stage for Big Dick Whittington you know you are in the hands of seasoned 'pros'.

They engage the audience in lighthearted banter and introduce King Rat, Dick and his pole-dancing pussy, and the boys and girls of Doreen Bird College Sidcup, who fill the stage with song and dance.

Saucy, but never salacious, the story takes us from the back streets of London to a shipwreck and capture by the Sheik of Araby, who curiously has learned to play the ukelele and sing The Old Bazaar In Cairo - George Formby eat your heart out.

In the interval, Vincent reminds us of the charity shows they bring to hospices in the area and lets us know we can still get married there, even though it's not a church anymore. This Mecca To Mellifluous Melodiousness is the only surviving music hall in the country and the second half is filled with songs and dances reminding us of happy days gone by and encouraging us to join in to make the evening go with a bang. A disco afterwards gives us all a chance to strut our stuff and work off some calories!

Suzanne in the box office assures us that coach parties come from as far as Dartford and Maidstone and, as she lives in Grove Park, she has to travel across the water regularly, apparently without ill effect.

All in all, this is an architectural gem re-born as a house of fun, and as the government removes Britannia from our coinage it behoves us to show the powers that be that we can treasure our past while having a damn good time...

l Big Dick Whittington, at the Brick Lane Music Hall, 443 North Woolwich Road, E16 2DA, runs until March 1. Tickets are £35, from the box office on 020 7511 6655 or online at www.bricklanemusichall.co.uk.

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