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Project 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 Calloway.

It was, however, the lost and unknown acts that gripped my attention. Some were so ridiculous they defied belief:

PONCIE PONCE – a Hawaiian Ukulele player
– the man who lights a 1000 watt bulb in his hand
– the wonder contortionists
– ‘Come on Boy, You can do it!’
…and the jaw breakingly banal...

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?

With a 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 theatre tradition.

Format: HD

Running time: 48-52 mins. for 60 min. slot




all contents © grant wakefield - 2009