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The cast 'urn' their keep with unusually sombre show at the Old Vic's 24 Hour Musical gala

Alice Jones' Arts Diary

Anthony Head brought his school blazer, Freddie Fox a road sign and Meera Syal a belly-dancer’s waist chain. But it was Tracie Bennett, last seen playing Judy Garland in End of the Rainbow, who stole the show when she showed up to rehearsals for the Old Vic’s 24 Hour Musicals clutching a funeral urn which contained the ashes of her friend, Christopher.

Performers in the theatre’s annual fundraiser, in which stars of the stage create a show from scratch in the space of a single day, are asked to bring a prop with them to inspire the writers.

This year, for the first time, it was musicals rather than straight plays on the bill and Bennett’s unusual prop produced to the most sombre offering of the night. Living Everyday, written by Stephen Clark (Zorro; Love Story) about grief in which the cast, including Bennett, Luke Treadaway and Richard Fleeshman sang about a young man who is stabbed on the way home from a party.

Matt Lucas, as compere, was on hand to lighten the mood. His insistence on calling his co-hosts “Lex Luthor and the man from the Holsten Pils advert” may not have gone down too well with Kevin Spacey and Jeff Goldblum, however.

Meanwhile a fudged introduction, in which he claimed not to know who Jemima Rooper, star of One Man Two Guvnors was, drew boos from the stalls.

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