Star-Studded Cast in Tribute to Queen Mother’s 90th Birthday
LONDON (AP) _ Queen Mother Elizabeth sang with gusto at a gala celebrating her 90th birthday that included actors Michael Caine, Roger Moore and Howard Keel and singer Placido Domingo.
The show Thursday night at the London Palladium highlighted the changing face of entertainment throughout the queen mother’s nine decades, from the Edwardian music hall to pop music and the hit musical ″Phantom of the Opera.″
The 2,298-seat theater was packed and millions of Britons are expected to watch the gala when it is shown on BBC-TV on Aug. 4, the queen mother’s birthday.
A Noel Coward sequence was introduced by Sir John Mills, who reminded the queen mother that her ″great friend″ would also have been 90 this year. ″And I know he would have wanted to have been the first to salute you,″ Mills said.
The queen mother sang along enthusiastically with Bernie Winters and Leslie Crowther when they re-enacted Flanagan and Allen routines ″Underneath the Arches″ and ″Strolling.″
After the show, she told Winters, who was a great favorite of her late husband King George VI: ″I had a little weep. The show brought back some very happy memories of my late husband.″
Placido Domingo flew in from Austria where he is rehearsing for the Salzburg Festival to sing an aria from ″Tosca,″ and ″You Are My Heart’s Delight.″
Howard Keel interrupted rehearsals for ″Dallas″ in the United States to recreate the part he originally played at the Theater Royal Drury Lane in 1947 -the cowman Curly in the musical ″Oklahoma.″
Dame Kiri Te Kanawa sang both opera and songs from ″My Fair Lady″ and Michael Caine and Roger Moore hammed away as a pair of top-hatted punters in the musical’s Ascot scene seeking a tip from the ″one person who knows more about racing than anyone.″
The queen mother, wearing pale green and gold and a diamond tiara, was flanked by her daughters, Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret.
The two-hour show ended with the whole cast led by Dame Kiri singing a special birthday song composed by Carl Davis - ″The Most Wonderful Birthday of All″ - and director Sir Richard Attenborough calling for three rousing cheers.
Eleven service and allied charities are to share the nearly $2 million expected to be raised.