Miss Hope Springs recalls A-list upbringing ahead of Norwich show
- Credit: Archant
Miss Hope Springs is the creation of singer-songwriter and performer Ty Jeffries who tells John Bultitude more about his comedy creation and how she was inspired by his own life surrounded by household names.
Sashay, sequins and sass are guaranteed this summer as Miss Hope Springs graces Norwich Playhouse with her presence.
The listening ear of the famous and the goddess of gossip is preparing to entertain her public with an evening of songs, comedy and cabaret.
She brings her not inconsiderable back catalogue of songs and sparkle to the stage on July 12 as well as a heart-warming story of a legend who may have been.
Ty's creation has her own back story in the fine tradition of other great characters like Dame Edna Everage and Lily Savage with Miss Hope's last high-profile performance at the Pink Pelican Casino in 1972.
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Ty says his creation is "not a has-been and more of a never-was.
"She is from an era of show business which has gone now. There used to be lots of what were known as lounge acts. They never really had them in England but they were the staple of a night out in America.
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"There would be piano bars where there would often be this glamorous older woman playing the piano who had probably started out 25 years earlier with hopes of being the new Debbie Reynolds but it never quite happened."
Behind the sequins and smile is a person Ty describes as a sad clown in the style of Charlie Chaplin or Buster Keaton.
"I often say she is a bit like Lassie. She will turn up and do her show and then she packs up her suitcase of dreams and goes off to her next gig."
It is also not hard to discover the inspiration for his character. Ty is the son of the late actor, screenwriter and director Lionel Jeffries.
He spent his formative years in Los Angeles while his father was making movies across the Atlantic.
Ty recalled: "I always loved old movies. From the age of about 6, I used to watch Garbo, Dietrich, Bette Davis, Judy Garland and all those great Hollywood musicals.
"In a way Miss Hope Springs is a sort of muse to me. I write for her and I create all my work for her, and she is my inspiration.
"She is like the perfect template for me to express how I felt as a composer, as a writer lyricist, and as an actor."
He also grew up around the sort of people who were on the front pages of newspapers and dominating the glossy magazines.
Ty was taught his first jazz chords by Sir John Mills and had bedtime stories told to him by Roald Dahl which meant the world of showbiz helped shape him from a very early age.
He said: "It really was normal for me. One weekend, you might get Fred Astaire coming to the house and staying for the weekend or I would be serving sausage rolls to Lee Remick.
"I came home one day and The Bee Gees and Lulu were having tea in the sitting room. It was extraordinary but it was also my childhood and I didn't know anything else.
"It was to some extent normal but, unlike many people who grow up in this environment, I was star struck. It was extraordinary to meet these incredible people. It has informed my work because I know a lot about show business. They say write about what you know and I grew up in it."
At the age of 15, he was no longer an observer and was snapped up by the song-writing/publishing duo Bill Martin and Phil Coulter, who were behind the likes of Eurovision hits Boom Bang A Bang and Puppet On A String.
"They heard me playing and singing and were interested in signing me up.
"Later on, I was signed to Rocket Music which is very timely at the moment with the new movie. That was my youth. I sadly never had any big hits. I had lots of almosts. I am a bit like Miss Hope Springs myself."
While he enjoyed a successful modelling career for the likes of Jean Paul Gaultier and Versace in the eighties as well as a very successful parallel career as a musician playing at the likes of Langan's Brasserie and The Ritz in London, it was Miss Hope Springs that gave him a strong performing break.
"I have forged my own path. It is much more difficult to cut your way through virgin territory because there is no one else doing what I do and how I do it."
Miss Hope Springs comes to Norwich Playhouse on Friday, July 12 at 8pm and tickets cost £17.50.
To book, log onto norwichplayhouse.co.uk or call the box office on 01603 598598.