THINGS TO DO
WITH DE GRANBY IF THEY'RE NOT DEAD
Background, Proposal + Status
In late 1988 I was living in New York, courtesy
of IMAX film maker Dennis Earl Moore. One night
he arrived back with a huge filing cabinet
filled with thousands of 10 x 8 publicity stills
from the now defunct Nina Little Theatrical
Agency. Nina booked cabaret and vaudeville acts
throughout the American East Coast circuit
during the 60’s and 70’s. She had the good
fortune to catch several stars on the rise,
including Woody Allen, Carl Perkins and Cab
It was, however, the lost and unknown acts that
gripped my attention. Some were so ridiculous
they defied belief:
– a Hawaiian Ukulele player
MR. ELECTRIC – the man who lights a 1000
watt bulb in his hand
PUPI AND PUPI – the wonder contortionists
HOLLYWOOD HENRY’S COMEDY DOG ACT – ‘Come on
Boy, You can do it!’
…and the jaw breakingly banal...
MICHAEL SEDGEWICK – Englishman.
Yet one particular group haunted me, as they do
to this day: THE DE GRANBY SINGERS.
THE DE GRANBY SINGERS brandish their perspex
notes and peculiar smiles. They peer out from
beneath the apple blossom tree and simply demand
to be re-discovered. How did an act with such a
surreal presence fail to make it to the big
time? Who were they? Family members, or stage
school misfits, thrust together by greedy
star-struck parents or deranged teachers? Were
they any good? What did they sound like? Why did
they do it? And where are they now?
small documentary crew I will attempt to find
them and / or their surviving descendants. We
will trawl through their illustrious career, and
peruse their sound and picture archives. We will
find out what went right, and what went wrong.
And above all we will attempt to re-unite them,
either to perform one last concert, or to cut a
record. This whole process will be documented.
They should not be allowed to fade into
obscurity without one last blaze of glory.
Whilst locating them, the film makers will have
a unique opportunity to explore the ‘B-Side’ of
the American cabaret circuit, itself the fading
remnant of a once thriving Vaudeville tradition
that was finally destroyed by television. On our
travels we will interview grizzled old-timers
from the theatres of the day, and perhaps meet
with those acts who became famous, in particular
Woody Allen, whose love of obscure acts was
immortalised in his film ‘Broadway Danny Rose’.
Perhaps he can shed light on who Nina Little
was, and what happened to her. He may wax
lyrical about life on the circuit in those days.
Perhaps he was once on the same bill as THE DE
GRANBY SINGERS. What did he think of them?
With a soundtrack potentially featuring the
group themselves, THINGS TO DE WITH DE GRANBY IF
THEY’RE NOT DEAD will be a light hearted,
humourous and sentimental journey into a lost
era, but it will also have a serious undertone,
exploring the power of electronic media and its
role in the destruction of the small time
time: 48-52 mins. for 60 min. slot
© GRANT WAKEFIELD 2009