Ref NoBTC167
TitleRoss Taylor Archive
DescriptionRoss Taylor's photographs, production files, correspondence, programmes, books, recordings and ephemera relating to: 'Charlie Girl', Adelphi Theatre (1965); 'Strike a Light', Piccadilly Theatre (1966); 'Mr and Mrs', Palace Theatre (1968); 'The Water Babies', Royalty Theatre (1973); 'John Curry Theatre of Skating', Cambridge Theatre (1977); 'The King and I', London Palladium (1979).
Date1950s - 2010s
AdminHistoryRoss Taylor (October 8, 1929 - July 31, 2017) was a British Theatre Producer, dancer and choreographer who described himself as "the first working class impresario". Born in Stockport, England at the start of the Great Depression, he was raised by his father, a cotton mill worker who experienced long periods of unemployment during Ross' childhood. He had been obsessed with showbusiness from an early age, but left school at 14 to become an apprentice carpenter.

In 1946 he saw Ralph Reader's "The Gang Show" at the Palace Theatre, Manchester and decided to become a dancer. For two years he worked on a building site in Stockport during the day and took ballet classes in Manchester at night, commuting by tram. He saw Mona Inglesby's International Ballet company perform in Manchester in 1948 and auditioned at their headquarters in London. He was accepted and became a student there, being told by the "Great Madame Espinosa" that "you'll never be a great dancer, but you have so much talent, you are so theatrical". Realising within 18 months that his dream of being a great ballet star was unrealistic, he left to join commercial musical theatre and toured thoughout the UK as a dancer in musicals such as "Call Me Madame", "Brigadoon", "Carousel" and a production of "Chi è di scena?" in Italy, starring Anna Magnani. He also appeared in several films, including "Gentlemen Marry Brunettes"," The Man Who Loved Redheads" and "Simon and Laura" (all 1955).

From 1954 he started working as a choreographer in musicals, revues and pantomimes as well as writing, devising and staging performances at cabarets and nightclubs in London's West End. In the late 1950s he began developing entertainments on Ice and working in occasionally in television, while continuing to expand his theatrical career as a director and producer. In 1964 he and Ray Cooney wrote the script for "Charlie Girl", enlisting David Heneker and John Taylor to write the score. Under pressure from the main producer, he accepted the credit "devised by Ross Taylor". It premiered at the Adelphi Theatre on December 15, 1965 and became one of the most successful theatre shows of the day, playing for more than 2,000 performances, closing on March 27, 1971.

His prolific career during the 1960s and 70s included annual "Big Star Shows" and the musical "Mr and Mrs". He regularly staged and/or choreographed productions for variety stars such as Adam Faith, Ken Dodd, Roy Hudd, Jimmy Tarbuck, Val Doonican, Mike and Bernie Winters, Quentin Crisp, and Kathy Kirby. Many of these were filmed for TV, such as shows at the London Palladium, "The Bachelor's Show", slots on Morecambe and Wise and a segment for Mary Hopkins on The Andy Williams Show in the USA.

In 1973 he produced a musical version of Charles Kingsley's "The Water Babies" at the Royalty Theatre starring Jessie Matthews as Mrs Doasyouwouldbedoneby. The score was by John Taylor. His association with ice dancing productions was strengthened by working as production designer on the "John Curry Theatre of Skating', at the Bristol Hippodrome and Cambridge Theatre in 1977.

After this, Ross began negotiations to bring Yul Bryner back to London in "The King and I". It opened at the London Palladium as a "Ross Taylor production" on June 12th 1979, running for more than a year and winning star Virginia McKenna the 1979 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical Revival. Following this success, Ross brought another Rodgers and Hammerstein revival to London: "The Sound of Music" played at London's Apollo Victoria from August 18, 1981 - September 18, 1982, starring Petula Clark and Honor Blackman and received generally rave reviews.

Ross effectively retired after The Sound of Music closed, choosing to enjoy travelling for more than 20 years, finally settling in Australia where he died in 2017.
ArrangementThis collection is uncatalogued and so remains in the form of its original accession.
Extent13 boxes, 3 scrapbooks, 1 packages of LPs + 1 plan chest drawer (c.100 posters and designs)
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