Sir Richard Stilgoe to return to stage thanks to jazz star son

Father and son collaboration: Richard and Joe Stilgoe: (NIGEL HOWARD)
Father and son collaboration: Richard and Joe Stilgoe: (NIGEL HOWARD)

Sir Richard Stilgoe, the lyricist behind Cats and Phantom of the Opera, has been inspired to return to the stage by his jazz star son Joe.

The pair co-hosted a cabaret evening at Brasserie Zedel this week, as part of a regular slot for Joe, and they played a medley of his hitmaker father’s greatest tunes.

It has inspired Sir Richard, 75, who hosted BBC programmes for decades, and was also known for impromptu acts with the late pianist Peter Skellern, to return to live performances.

Sir Richard, who also penned the lyrics for Starlight Express, said: “If your children ask you to do things, you do them.

“I had a wonderful time on stage with my son. Having him accompany me was like performing with Peter [Skellern] again. Let’s do more.”

Father and son had previously only performed together in public twice - once in front of the Queen last year.

Sir Richard said: “It was for the Queen’s 70th wedding anniversary at Windsor Castle. It was a great honour... I did my normal thing of getting ideas from the audience and then going away and writing a song, but from a rather grander audience than usual.”

He added: “There’s no point in being a performer if there isn’t a bit of risk.”

Joe, who is currently collaborating with David Walliams on music and lyrics for the comedian’s bestselling children’s book, The Midnight Gang, insisted it is not hard being a musician with a legend for a father.

When he had a vacant slot during a week-long run of musical cabaret evenings planned for the venue - Joe’s other co-hosts include Rufus Hound and Barry Cryer - he just thought a joint effort would be “fun”.

“People obviously make associations, if I’m sitting at the piano I look quite similar to him - which is good news - but growing up he was just a help. He was probably hoping I would be in any way decent,” he said. “I loved dragging my dear Dad out of retirement...the audience loved seeing him on stage and he did a lovely tribute to his great friend and musical partner Peter.”

Sir Richard, who is married to opera singer Lady Annabel Stilgoe, is still working, including on a German language version of Starlight Express.

The week-long run will continue at Crazy Coqs, Brasserie Zedel, Piccadilly, until Sunday. Other performers include Sharon D Clarke, Trevor Dion Nicholas and Clive Rowe.

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