It seems that Les Miserables isn’t the only musical/musical play that Roger Allam has sung in. In 2001 he played Acting Captain Terri Dennis in the Donmar Warehouse production of Privates on Parade. I learnt this after seeing the play on Saturday afternoon with Simon Russell Beale (long overdue theatre round-up to follow). Inevitably, it put me in mind of a certain line from Yverdon-les-bains...
Just be grateful I’ve never seen La Cage aux Folles in which, you guessed it, Roger Allam has also starred.
You’re on a stopover in Bangkok and your captain meets you in the hotel bar wearing a red cocktail dress. What do you say?
Douglas: Good evening, Martin.
Douglas: That is my name. Or perhaps you were thinking of another Douglas? One who isn’t about to ask whether you might do a little better to disregard the advice of Tom Jones and leave your hat off.
Martin: My hat - Douglas, you’re wearing a dress! A red cocktail dress. Quite a tight dress, actually, and showing your legs and – everything. And high heels! You’re wearing high heels.
Douglas: How observant of you. Are you about to tell me that you respect my life choices?
Martin: Er, well, naturally, naturally I respect your life choices, although, and I hope you don’t take this the wrong way, but personally, if I were to wear a cocktail dress that, er, that short, I would have shaved. My legs! I would have shaved my legs! Not that you have to shave your legs. It’s your life. Your choice. Er, I’ll be going.
Douglas: Why? Don’t you want to see the show?
Douglas: Not that observant, I see.
Douglas: If you hadn’t been quite so pre-occupied with my legs, Martin, you might have noticed that I am standing on a stage. Also, I am in a blonde wig and surrounded by men in uniform. Intrigued as I am that you apparently think this an unremarkable, albeit hitherto well-concealed, aspect of my private life, I must inform you that it is in fact a play.
Martin: A play?
Douglas: It seems that following our little incident with Javert and Arthur’s mushroom stroganoff, word has got about of my, shall we say, previous life. Which is why, in exchange for a substantial injection of cash, I am about to save the day in the Singapore Airlines Jamboree Production of Privates on Parade. It’s rather a large part, but I think that I can handle it.
Martin: Ah. Oh God! Sorry, right, I’ll just go, shall I?
Douglas: If you like. Or you could come and see the play. You might even get to see more than my legs.
Martin: No, Douglas! Not that I don’t respect your life choices. But we do still have to work together for another two months. As your captain it would be unprofessional of me to -
Douglas: I meant other people’s legs, Martin. On stage, in shorts, one pair belonging to a woman. A rather attractive woman to whom I was going to offer to introduce you, before you completely lost your mind.
Martin: Oh. Right. Of course. Well, I’ll go and sit down, shall I? And, good luck. I mean, break a leg, only not actually, because then Carolyn would need to find a replacement first officer for the flight home. So metaphorically, but not really, break a leg.
Douglas: Thank you, Martina. I’m sure I’ll pull it off.