Take a step back to turn of the century

Dorset Echo: Photograph of the Author

Echo Writer Joanna Davis10:02am Friday 22nd August 2014 in Stage By Joanna Davis

SEAFRONT SHOW: Rita Barrington

A BLAST from the past will liven up Greenhill Gardens in Weymouth on Sunday afternoon.

Rita Barrington of Weymouth will be performing as music hall singer Marie Lloyd, bringing the classic sound of the turn of the 19th century to the seafront gardens.

This will be Rita’s third performance on the Greenhill bandstand.

She said: “It’s a wonderful place to perform and so scenic.

“It couldn’t be a better spot to perform in.

“Marie Lloyd’s tunes are so melodic and you cannot help but sing along.

“There’s a certain generation that can remember her songs but I’ve even had some young people who’ve sat down to watch and have started swaying along.”

Marie Lloyd became an international success and supported the recruitment effort during the First World War and toured hospitals to help boost morale.

She had a troubled private life – she was married three times, divorced twice and suffered bouts of ill health and died aged 52. Rita used to teach speech and drama in Warwickshire. She became intrigued by Marie Lloyd when someone filled in for a speaker who failed to turn up to a conference for the Society of Teachers of Speech and Drama.

The stand-in speaker spoke on the life of Marie Lloyd.

“Her story really inspired me but it took me several years before I decided I would look into her life,” Rita said.

The act grew from Rita’s drama school, from which she would go out and give talks while in costume.

Rita, who retired with her husband to Dorset three years ago, thought her performance days were over when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012.

“I remember thinking ‘will my life be the same again?’ “To be back on the boards singing and entertaining is even more amazing than I thought it would be.”

Rita is accompanied by pianist James Crawshaw of Dorchester.

Dorset Echo: SEAFRONT SHOW: Rita Barrington

SEAFRONT SHOW: Rita Barrington

She is hoping to increase her performances and appear as Marie at hotels to provide coach parties with some nostalgic entertainment.

She will be appearing on the bandstand at Greenhill Gardens from 2pm and 3pm on Sunday. Donations will be collected for the benefit of Friends of Greenhill Gardens.


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