Tag Archives: Theatre

Just One Leading Lady! [1982]

Published: Debbie #501 (September 18 1982) – #505 (16 October 1982)

Episodes: 5

Artist: Photo story

Writer: Unknown

Special thanks to Lorrsadmin and Phoenix for scans

Plot

Cathy Collins wants to play the lead in Dormy Drama Club’s next production. Two other girls, Sonya and Gail, are her rivals for it. Cathy’s friend, backstage girl Connie, keeps telling Cathy stories about a ghost haunting the theatre. The ghost is said to be of an actress who was so jealous of her rivals that she killed them. Cathy rubbishes such stories, but it’s not long before she sees the ghost in her nightmares. It does not help that the production they are putting on is a spooky one either.

It becomes apparent that someone is out to eliminate the rivals for the leading role, but it’s clearly no ghost. It’s a flesh-and-blood person whose maxim is that there’s only room for “just one leading lady!”, hence the title of the story.

Strike one comes when Sonya falls off the stage and claims she was pushed. The others accuse Cathy of pushing Sonya to get the leading role. Connie is the only one to stay friendly with her.

After accusing Cathy too, Gail storms off into a dressing room. The troublemaker strikes again by locking Gail in the dressing room overnight to make her ill from the freezing temperatures in there.

When this trick is discovered, everyone believes Cathy did it to get rid of both rivals. Mrs Shaw the drama club teacher tells Cathy to leave the club, pending investigation. Cathy’s protests of innocence are futile.

However, Cathy loves the theatre too much to just walk away, so she quietly watches the production from a distance. Mrs Shaw tries out various girls for the lead, none of whom are suitable. Cathy is surprised to see Connie try out for it too; she always thought Connie was happy being the backstage girl. Mrs Shaw gives Connie a minor role, saying she does not have enough experience for the lead. Cathy secretly sympathises, recalling her own experience of having to build up for a long time in the club before being allowed any major roles.

Afterwards Cathy overhears Connie practising all the lines for the lead. Connie sees her and asks her what she thought. When Cathy tries to say, in a very tactful manner, that it was wooden, Connie goes off into a big brag that she is a better actress than Cathy and the other rivals. Moreover, she gloats, she was the one who hurt Sonya and Gail and she was trying to wind Cathy up with phony stories about the ghost. She was out to get rid of all three rivals so she could grab the lead from backstage. Connie says it’s no use Cathy telling anyone because they won’t believe her. But Connie has miscalculated: Graham the SFX guy has not only overheard but also recorded everything!

A few days later, Connie has left the club permanently, everything is patched up, and Mrs Shaw is trying to work out who will play the lead. It’s not shown who gets it in the end, but Cathy doesn’t mind. She knows she will be a leading lady someday.

Thoughts

This is clearly a whodunit story, despite all the attempts of the antagonist to turn it into a ghost story. We can see that is no ghostly hand locking the dressing room door on Gail; it’s someone who is trying to take advantage of that rumour. And it is obvious from Cathy’s thought balloons that she is not guilty. Readers must have concluded that it is a third party in the group who is out for the role, and some may even have suspected it was Connie.

When Connie reveals her guilt to Cathy, readers were probably shaking their heads and thinking “poor fool”. Connie was so naïve and deluded that she could just leap into a starring role from backstage, and by playing dirty tricks instead of speaking out that she wanted to act too. The reality, which Cathy knew all too well, was that one had to build up experience on smaller roles before attempting a big one. Connie got a taste of that when Mrs Shaw said she did not have enough experience for the lead and gave her a minor role. So Connie hurt two girls and discredited a third for nothing. Yet she still has the delusion that she can play the lead far better than the other three girls.

Perversely, although Connie’s acting of the role was wooden, Cathy realises that in “a horrible way” Connie is indeed a much better actress – in the way she had fooled everyone into thinking she was content being a backstage girl when in fact she was using it as a springboard to grab the lead. To say nothing of fooling Cathy into thinking that she was her one and only friend. So did Connie have a talent for acting after all, which could have led her into starring roles with proper training and experience? Maybe it would have if she’d gone about things the right way, but she ruined whatever chance she had with nasty tricks.

Blind Belinda

Plot

Belinda Stewart is blind, but also a talented singer. Her managers are Gloria and Keith Foxton, who promise her she will make enough money to receive a cure from a  famous American doctor. But in fact the Foxtons are out to pocket any money Belinda makes for themselves.

Belinda

Notes

  • Writer: Benita Brown
  • Artist: Andrew Wilson
  • Issue #438 had a 6-page double episode, which is split  in the reprint between issues #1131 and 1#132

Appeared

  • Blind Belinda – Mandy: #428 (29 March 1975) – #444 (19 July 1975)
  • Reprinted – Mandy: #1121 (Jul. 9 1988) – #1138 (05 November 1988)

 

Her Name in Lights

Plot:

Stella Martin is living with her Aunt Cynthia, an unscrupulous theatre agent, while her mother is ill and her father works away from home. Stella is a talented actress and wants to go into the theatre. But Aunt Cynthia forces her into acting of a most undesirable kind – starring in TV commercials as a child actress. To this end Aunt Cynthia forces Stella into a childish appearance, deliberately underfeeds her to stunt her growth, keeps her away from school, and Stella has to do housework as well.

Lights

Notes:

Appeared:

  • Her Name in Lights –  Mandy: #712 (06 September 1980) – #721 (08 November 1980)

 

Rosie’s Phantom Friends

Plot:

Rosie Russell helps backstage at the Raton Repertory Theatre. It is haunted by the ghosts of two Victorian actresses, and only Rosie can see them. They are prone to feuding, which causes trouble. Sometimes they agree – which causes even more trouble. But they have their uses too.

Rosie

Notes:

Appeared:

  • Rosie’s Phantom Friends  –  Debbie  circa  #376 (26 April 1980) – (?)

Gabby

Plot:

Gabby Grant wants to go into show business. Her grandfather dies at the hands of crooks who are after his market stall. Gabby resolves to keep the stall going and still pursue her path in show business. She returns in sequels. In Gabby on Tour – Gabby tours Britain’s market, then villains steal her van, she manages to track down the van but finds a girl tied up inside!

Gabby 1

Notes:

Appeared:

  • Gabby –  Debbie: #220 (30 April 1977) – (?)
  • Gabby Afloat – Debbie: no publication dates available
  • Gabby on Tour – Debbie: circa #313 (10 February 1979) – (?)

The Double Life of Coppelia Brown / The Double Life of Dolly Brown

Plot

In Victorian times, the Grimbys blackmail Dolly Brown into a fraudulent act in a travelling fair, where she has to pretend to be a life-size doll. When Dolly is not playing the doll, the Grimbys use her as a half-starved slave. The Grimbys keep Dolly enslaved with a story and poster (only partly intact) that she is wanted by the police. Dolly has lost her memory, so she has no idea what happened there.

Dolly

Notes

Appeared

  • The Double Life of Coppelia Brown – Mandy #128 (28 Jun 1969) – #138 (06 Sep 1969)
  • Reprinted as The Double Life of Dolly Brown – Mandy: #482 (10 April 1976) – #492 (19 August 1976)
  • Reprinted as The Double Life of Coppelia Brown  #818 (18 Sep 1982) – #828 (27 Nov 1982)
  • Reprinted as The Double Life of Dolly Brown (as Mandy Classic) – M&J:  #297 (18 January 1997) – #307 (29 March 1997)