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What a grand person is this Gracie Fields! What a personality, and what a magnificent performer! We have all known her for years, vicariously heard her records, enjoyed her screen appearances, read of her amazing career, her self-sacrificing war work, and her personal triumphs. And, vicariously, too, we have given her our allegiance as Britain's outstanding stage artiste. Last night an Auckland audience crowded the Town Hall, saw and heard her in the flesh, and lost its heart completely to as charming an enchantress as we may ever hope to see.. Generous, gifted, ebullient, unpredictable Gracie, had the power in her to weave spells of such potency that a normally reserved audience became at once as animated and as controlled as a Walt Disney cartoon character. Mainly it laughed with her, as easily sang with her, but with her rapid changes in mood it was also quiet, sentimental, reverent, urgently patriotic, or full of zestful animal spirits. In all it was at Ijome, and perfectly natural—as she was. Gracie the Tomboy It had been dutifully appreciative, or nationally enthusiastic, while the Auckland and District Highland Pipe Band skirled the sort of noises that make Scotland stern and wild; it had been genuinely impressed and pleased with the pianoforte of Henry Penn, the assisting artist, but it was Gracie Fields—clad with Hollywood glamour, but acting with typical tomboyishness—who made two hours speed by like so many minutes.

Call her generous. She maintains an orphanage from her earnings— but she is generous, too, as an artist. Eighteen songs on one programme, not counting the National Anthem, as many monologues, as many or more stories. What a trouper!

Call her gifted, ebullient, unpredictable . . . she is all those, and] more. English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh,! South African, Australian and Ameri- i can songs each tripped off her tongue with easy accent and mannerism, with a dash of Cockney and her own native Lancashire to boot. And if, in such favourite numbers as "The Biggest Aspidistra" and "Grandfather's Bagpipes" she gave vent to vocal gymnastics that would roughen any other throat than hers for life, she could be equally true of note and dramatic in interpretation of "The Convoy," tender in A. A. Milne's " Christopher Robin," gracefully touching in "London Pride," reverent in "The Lord's Prayer," and declaimingly spirited in "There'll Always Be An England." Incidentally, she described "The Convoy" as "one of the nicest songs written during the war" and announced it as written by a New Zealand girl.

Her Constant "Funning"

It was in her constant "funning," however, that the audience found her most disarming. Her reaching for a top C with ejaculated. "Eee! I done it!"; her skilful handling of a circumstance that found her surrounded by audience, requiring constant circling, and her joke, "Got to be two-faced for this job!"; the way she used an elderly stagehand as a "stooge," helped him spread a cloth on the piano, and rewarded him with a tender kiss on the forehead ("Hope his wife's not here!"); the way she removed her bolero jacket . . . "That's all that's coming off"; the way she calmly put up and took down her hair and used a couple of scarves, a string of pearls, and a tarn o' shanter as "props" to change her personality in a trice—all these were studied, but they were delightful. ■ And she danced, too; not in full abandon, but with a suggested ease and grace that declared plainly she could do a lot better in that line if she felt inclined. And then, as climax to a favourite parody of "My Hero," suddenly she whirled in a cartwheel which, in the small stage space allowed her, was not only an achievement, but also an outright expression of her own enjoyment of the show. ~ '■ ... A New Zealand audience that will join in and sing, full throatedly, is a captured audience. An Auckland audience that will spontaneously cheer an artist—as this one did Gracie Fields last night—has written an unusual note in our stage history. She's "Our Gracie" now; ours by adoption last night. ':

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Bibliographic details

"OUR" GRACIE NOW, Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 179, 31 July 1945

Word Count

"OUR" GRACIE NOW Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 179, 31 July 1945

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