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Oct 04. Patricia Routledge on stage in

The Solid Gold Cadillac


At 75 years old, Patricia Routledge who never wanted to hear about retirement, is back on stage in a London West End theatre to play the leading role in "the solid gold Cadillac", a satire from the golden age of American comedy. The play was premiered in Broadway in 1953, adapted for the screen in a comedy movie staring Judy Holliday in 1956 and then performed in London in 1965. Patricia is back to the Garrick Theatre, where she played in "Dandy Dick" 30 years ago in 1973.



The story


A retired actress, Mrs Laura Partridge (Patricia Routledge) holds a few shares in The General Products Corporation. When she attends an annual shareholder's meeting, she bombards the directors with questions they don't seem to have answers for, mainly when it comes to their huge salary increase. In an attempt to shut her up, her threatened bosses put her on the payroll, but Mrs Partridge gets unexpectedly more and more involved and influential in a business of which she slowly manages to change the rules.


"The solid gold Cadillac"

Black & white 1956 Film

Available on DVD






The Garrick Theatre

London West End where Patricia Routledge Plays in "the solid gold Cadillac" from 27/09/04

to 15/01/05

Tel: +44(0)2074945085



The Solid gold Cadillac, a feelgood show.

 Published in the magazine "TheatreGoers". Sept 04.


In "The Solid Gold Cadillac", nobody gets their kit off and there's no effing and blinding. But, asks Robert Gore‑Langton, will there be an offstage romance for the show's stars, Patricia Routledge and Roy Hudd?





THE SOLID GOLD CADILLAC is the latest star vehicle in the West End. Stage veterans Patricia Routledge and Roy Hudd have teamed up to appear in George S Kaufman's last produced comedy, which he wrote in 1953 with Howard Teichmann. This month the show comes into the Garrick Theatre after touring with a cast ' of nine, including Lucy Briers, daughter of Richard Kaufman remains a phenomenon of American theatre.

He notched up 45 plays, 26 hits, wrote three Marx Brothers films, got through 16 collaborators, two wives, countless mistresses, and gave the actress Mary Astor 20 orgasms (according to her diary). James Thurber called him 'the man who was comedy.


Patricia Routledge is best known for being Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced 'Bouquet) in BBC TV's ‑Keeping up Appearances. She's also no stranger to American musical theatre ‑ Leonard Bernstein wrote solos ‑ for her and her roles in Candide and Carousel are fondly remembered. Alan Bennett wrote the monologues A Woman of No Importance and A Lady of Letters for her.


Like Patricia, Roy Hudd is a British institution. 'Better to be one than be in one,' as he says. Performer, music man and Coronation Street stalwart, he's also a radio record‑buster. The News Huddlines on BBC Radio 2 is the longest‑running radio comedy.


Before his co‑star arrives, Roy explains to me that lan McKellen ‑ whose voice is used for the taped narration between the scenes for Cadillac came to him for advice on playing Widow Twankey in Aladdin which he is doing at the Old Vic this year. Nobody knows more about panto than 'Orrible Huddie, who has written and staged literally dozens.


When Patricia appears (A pint of draught Drambuie for Pat!' demands Roy), the pair talk panto before getting to the subject of their play. 'I come from Birkenhead where my father was a "high‑class gentlemen's outfitter'", she explains. 'We were always "high‑class" in the north, you know. There was a great sense of theatre in the family. 'Me Argyle was a famous music hall there, and my parents had complimentary tickets each week. But the magic really crystallised for me when 1 saw my first pantomime at the Liverpool Empire with Sandy Powell ‑ "Can you hear me, mother?" ‑ as Buttons. I'll never forget it'.


'My gran took me to the Croydon Empire and that was it. Smitten!' says Roy, who recalls that the young Patricia might have seen Revnell and West in Liverpool, famous female Ugly Sisters of the day. 'You don't usually have two girls playing the Ugly Sisters. The fact is you cannot put a pie up a real woman's jacksie; it's got to be a bloke in drag'.


What about George S Kaufman Does his name mean anything to theatre audiences today? 'I suspect The Man Who Came to Dinner still strikes a chord', says Patricia Neither she nor Roy sadly, can recall seeing Margaret Rutherford and Sid James who were in the 1965 original London production of Cadillac 'I can't imagine Margaret doing an American voice ‑ but 1 think she may have been rather wonderful says her follow-up in the role.


This play was brought to my attention eight or nine years ago and 1 thought it was very amusing she continues. 'But 1 didn't think it would have enough resonance. Today, corruption and fat cats in business are everywhere in the press. This is the story about quite an ordinary little woman who goes to her first shareholders' meeting and has a mind to winkle out the skulduggery going on. It is highly topical and there's not a dud part in it'.


'I play McKeever, says Roy. 'He's the guy who ran the company and has gone to work for the Senate ‑ and it's driving him mad. This lady comes along and says, "Give it up"...'

 'But we don't want to give too much of the plot away, thank you, Roy,' chips in his co‑star. Duly ticked off, Roy adds, 'I've been a huge fan of Pat's since 1 saw her many years ago in a revue called Out of my Mind at the Hammersmith Lyceum. I tell you something, it's such a shame she doesn't sing because she's got a great voice. I think you should do a bit of an aria'.


'Well I'm not singing in this,' says Patricia ‑ and that's final. What about Hyacinth Bucket? Is she fed up of the old bat? 'No, I'm not fed up of her, but it's sometimes a little irritating that that's all people want to know about. But it would be churlish for me to be ungrateful. If it helps bring people to this play, so much the better. 'The point


about Cadillac is it's a feelgood show,' says Roy. 'It's full of humanity. 

And nobody takes their clothes off  unless Mr Hudd here is planning

to" adds Patricia, arching a Routledge eyebrow. 'You have spoilt

my surprise!' says Roy. 'And there's no effing and blinding in 

it, either.' 'You've spoilt my other surprise,' he adds,

lightning quick. The key question is not whether there

is room for such a sweet period entertainment in the

harsh West End climate. The real  question is will

the famous pair of troupers  have a backstage

affair? 'You bet', says Roy. 'It'll be in the papers.

But, you know, since Sven‑Goran Eriksson

turned Pat down, she's never been the

same'. Patricia Routledge CBE pretends

not to hear. Roy Hudd OBE does that

uproarious laugh of his. As a pair, they

are as priceless as a solid gold Cadillac.


By Robert Gore-Langton.

Magazine TheatreGoers. Sept. 2004

Garrick theatre, London, 27/09/04 to

15/01/05. Tel: +44(0)8708901104




Patricia Routledge and Roy Hudd


The Poster


The Theatre brochure


Mouseover the theatre brochure to pause the slide show.