With reference to Peter Batten’s reminiscence about ‘Stephane’ (Oct/Nov 2017), I, too, want to tell a little story about Stephane Grappelli.

In 1979 I was on tour with a play, the leading lady of which was the amazing, vivacious, beautiful actress, Ingrid Pitt, (pictured) doyenne of Hammer Horror movies (and she had a great part in the film ‘Where Eagles Dare’). Ingrid and I met for Sunday lunch and then popped into the Theatre Royal, Lincoln, where we were playing, to retrieve something she had left in the dressing room.

We bumped into the world famous jazz violinist, Stephane, in the Green Room. Theatres in the provinces often book concerts for the Sunday evening which, traditionally, is never played by a visiting theatre company. He fell for Ingrid’s overwhelming enthusiasm for his art, and with great panache and Gallic charm, threw his English raincoat on a chair, unpacked his precious violin from its case, and said he would play especially for her, guiding her to a seat upon which she collapsed, and where she sat with eyes widely smiling and hands clasped in rapture for the best part of a couple of hours, as he swung through a repertoire of jazz favourites and popular tunes, including those which Peter mentioned in his article. Green Rooms rarely have windows and lighting is always low, either broken or non-existent; theatre electricians have more pressing calls on their skills. I sank onto a stool in the shadows and watched these two great talents appreciating each other. Magical.

Sylvia Alexander-Vine


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