Untied Artists present

Al Bowlly’s Croon Manifesto

A celebration of Britain's greatest singer of the dance band era, this show offers an insight into a pre-pop pioneer, delves into the seamier side of between the wars hedonism, and then gives the audience a chance to put on their dancing shoes and get their rocks off ballroom-style.

Images : Alicja Rogalska, Steven Davies, Jaskirt Dhaliwal, Steve Johnstone, Jake Oldershaw, Dee Patel.

The title of the piece is inspired by Bowlly’s book “Modern Style Singing” in which he issues a rallying call to embrace the new media of his day, the microphone. The tender, expressive and intimate vocal style he championed marked a turning point in musical history and brought about an entire change of focus from bandleader to singer.

Arguably the first ever ‘pop star’, his life is ripe for revisiting. He had a rock and roll lifestyle before rock was invented, a fiery temper, a penchant for globe-trotting, a rollercoaster career, tried to make it Stateside, and psychosomatically lost his voice. Like so many pop icons he lived fast and died young.

An inspiration to generations of singers and artists, Al Bowlly’s songs have featured in the cult films Amelie, The Shining and Dennis Potter’s seminal Pennies From Heaven.

Featuring hits like ‘The Very Thought Of You’, ‘My Woman’, we promise an evening to remember. Wear the gladdest of your gladrags, and once you’ve listened to the finer points of ‘Al Bowlly’s Croon Manifesto’, put it to the test on the dancefloor.

The show is suitable for venues with cabaret style seating and a dancefloor but can be tailored to more conventional theatre spaces. We offer outreach work with social dance groups and local musicians, with an opportunity for them to feature in the performance.

In August 2016 we presented the show with a cast of 14 young performers and 12 strong big band made up of professional and amateur musicians. The project was a collaboration between Forest Arts Centre, Walsall, Black Country Touring and Creative Black Country.

Performed at:

Pilot Night, Birmingham, 2009
First Bite, Birmingham, 2009
BiteSize, Warwick Arts Centre, 2010
Lichfield Festival 2010
Sandwell Festival 2010
Quay Arts, Isle Of Wight, 2010
Chipping Norton Theatre, 2010
mac, Birmingham 2010
Tobacco Factory, Bristol 2010
South St, Reading 2010
Cornerstone, Didcot, 2010
Junction, Cambridge 2010
Nuffield, Southampton 2010
Nightingale Theatre, Brighton 2010
The CarriageWorks Theatre, Leeds, 2011
The Lowry, Salford, 2011
Newhampton Arts, Wolverhampton, 2011
VFringe, Ventnor Isle Of Wight, 2011
Edinburgh Fringe, 2011

Forest Arts Centre, Walsall, August 2016

Shaving equipment supplied by Fancy Metal Goods with thanks to Ollie and Paul


What the press said...

'A sublime mix of songs, interactive theatre, and dance from costumed retro types.'

'Oldershaw’s voice is spectacular and mesmerizing.'

'A very rare treat in the fringe and mainstream theatre scene...highly recommended show.'

'If you are looking for a fun evening, filled with classic songs, laughter and you don’t mind joining in it’s definitely worth a visit.'

'With good backing from the musicians, Jake Oldershaw did a fine job of recreating the Bowlly vocal technique, and had some lovely exchanges of dialogue with Nick Tigg.'

'The show was really stolen by jazz band The Gramophone Party, who provided the perfect deadpan backdrop for the tale of one of the first popular music stars.'

'A slick and talented cast.'