WELCOME TO THE CRAZY CHRISTMAS CABARET!!
"The Crazy Christmas Cabaret must be the only show in the world where the inspiration springs from Monty Python, Shakespeare, the Marx Brothers and Jerry Lee Lewis! The style of the show demands the audience’s active involvement, but this is never a problem because, the Crazy Christmas Cabaret, throughout its existence on the Danish Theatre scene, has obviously acquired an enthusiastic and loyal audience of fans who have mastered all the necessary responses from "booing" the villain, to cheering the hero..." Berlingske Tidende
"The Crazy Christmas cabaret should be seen on doctor’s orders...McKee & Co. make us sing, clap and laugh our heads off - how can we clone the clowns from London Toast?"
"Vivienne McKee giver en julegave fra England til Danmark hvert år. Hun serverer alt det vi elsker: gamle music hall-numre, rock n’roll parodier, vittige ordspil, grovkornede vitser...et velsignet tosset juleshow." Jørgen Flindt Pedersen, Det Fri Aktuelt
Every year at Christmas, the London Toast Theatre, presents, what has been reviewed as - "the craziest show in town".
Written and directed every year by Vivienne McKee since 1982, it was presented at a tiny Cafe Theatre, with a cast of four actors from Britain, today the show is now part of the internationally famous Tivoli Christmas Season and plays in the splendid surroundings of Glassalen Theatre, to audiences of more than 60.000 a year.
Every year the show has developed in size and appearance - but one thing has never changed, the crazy English humour which has endeared it to the hearts of the Danish audience. A humour which is as British as fish n´ chips and warm beer. The show has gradually acquired a danish flavour too, a humour which is as Danish as "frikadeller" and "kold bajer i hånden" !
Now 39 years later, the Crazy Christmas Cabaret has become an annual tradition in Copenhagen theatre life. But, if it had not been for the well-known television presenter, Otto Leisner, there may never have been a second Crazy Christmas Cabaret.
He was wildly enthusiastic about the strange English show , in which a man dressed up as a middle-class English woman, complete with ghastly wing-glasses and a Union-Jack handbag , (and this was pre- Dame Edna!) and who had telephone conversations with the Queen of Denmark from the offstage telephone, and in which the part of the boy was played by a girl, who, not only encouraged the audience to "boo" the villain, singalong to well-known tunes, but also brought members of the audience up onstage to take part in the show !
He was so amazed by what he saw that he invited us to appear on his DR television programme, HOPLA, where we proceeded to cajole an entire audience of elderly Danes to sing rock n’ roll, right there in the TV studio!
Following this wonderful piece of media publicity, the ticket sales shot up and people started to ask Vivienne McKee what she intended to present for her next production.
The London Toast Theatre was, it seemed, here to stay!
The subject and content of the Crazy Christmas Cabaret scripts change every year, but the essential elements are still there - "booing" the villain, the singalongs, the "dame". These elements all come from from the traditional British "panto" which is presented at Christmas-time in England, but gradually Vivienne McKee have also developed not only her own running-gags from year to year, but also running-characters!
The irrepressible Dr Van Helsingør fra Elsinore has now become an almost annual "must".
Since his first introduction, as the vampire-killer in "Dracula" in 1986, he has popped up every year in increasingly odd guises: as the witch doctor in "Robinson Crusoe" , as the Viking chief in "Oh What a Knight!", and even as the genie of the "P.H." lamp in "Aladdin", but every year he limps onto the stage with his doctor’s bag, his deerstalker, red beard and sensible Ecco shoes and announces:
"My name is Dr Van Helsingør fra Elsinore, but you can call me Bent!".
The audiences spontaneously shout back ,"You’re Bent!!".
He also provides a wonderful excuse to make fun of the Danes, and to play with the differences in the two languages - only in a "huugelig" way, of course!
"Vivienne McKees hemmelige våben er hendes kulturelle skræven - det dobbelttydige. Med et sikkert ben i hver nations dramatisk-litterære kitchbutik og den engelske cabaret-traditions respektløshed kommer der forrygende bastarder frem i julelampens skær....."
Nina Davidsen, Information, 1989
Drawings by Tove Nørgaard.