Fascinating Aïda

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Fascinating Aïda
Fascinating Aida - Fringe.JPG
Fascinating Aïda perform at the 2008 Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Background information
Origin England
Genres Satirical Cabaret, comedy
Years active 1983 – 1989
1994 – 2004
2008 –
Labels First Night Records
Website http://www.fascinatingaida.co.uk
Members Dillie Keane
Adèle Anderson
Liza Pulman
Past members Lizzie Richardson
Marilyn Cutts
Glenda Smith
Denise Wharmby
Issy Van Randwyck
Charlotte Nytzen
Sarah-Louise Young

Fascinating Aïda is a British comedy singing group and satirical cabaret act.


(from left to right) Adèle Anderson, Dillie Keane and Marilyn Cutts performing in Barefaced Chic! at the Lyric Hammersmith.

Fascinating Aïda was founded in March 1983 by Dillie Keane,[1] along with Marilyn Cutts and Lizzie Richardson. The members have varied frequently, but the central two have been Adèle Anderson — who joined the group in 1984 — and Keane. The trio started performing in a West End wine bar, but they soon caught the attention of the media and performed on television for the first time in July 1983.[citation needed]

Over the years, they gained a growing fanbase and national popularity, earning three Laurence Olivier Awards nominations for Best Entertainment in 1995 and 2000. They were voted Most Popular Act 1985 by City Limits magazine and also earned a Perrier Comedy Award nomination.[2] The group broke up in 1989[3] and was subsequently reformed in 1994, and performed for a further ten years, releasing a number of albums, before breaking up again in 2004. Their final show, One Last Flutter, ran from 13 November to 6 December 2003 at the Comedy Theatre in London, when original member Marilyn Cutts joined the group for one last time.[4] When asked in a 2006 interview if the One Last Flutter show in December 2003[5] had been the group's last ever show, Dillie Keane responded, "It might be! I don’t know! I’m not being deliberately obscure – it depends if I fancy it and I don’t at the moment."[1] Since then she stated on the welcome page on the Fascinating Aïda official website that "Next year will be our 25th anniversary so we really want to do a new show to celebrate." The page was recently updated to give information about the performances and locations.[6]

The group wrote songs for radio and television programmes such as Stop the Week, After Hours, People Like Us and TV-am.[4] Some of their most famous songs include Shattered Illusions, Herpes Tango, Lieder and Taboo. They were the subject of several BBC documentaries. All the current members are also established actresses, mainly in musical theatre. Dillie Keane is also a writer, having written a column in The Stage magazine for ten years, and written two books, The Joy of Sequins in 1995 and Fascinating Who? in 1985. Keane says she now spends her time "juggling acting, cabaret and writing". The group have an official mascot—a pure bred Irish setter called "Dillie", born in 1999.

After the death in 2007 of the group's pianist and musical director, Russell Churney,[7] plans for a new show were shelved. It was announced in early March 2008 that they would get together again for a short spell of concerts and possibly a brief tour to celebrate their 25th anniversary, and the show would include new songs.[8][9][10] In 2008 they performed at the Jermyn Street Theatre, followed by three nationwide tours. Recently, a Fascinating Aïda Official YouTube Channel was created, which shows various past performances and details event dates,[11] and the new website was set up. They have in the past been described as "Absolutely Fabulous meets Noël Coward, as sung by the Andrew Sisters [sic]."[12] On 6 April 2009, Fascinating Aïda released a new album followed by a DVD called "Silver Jubilee" in July 2010, filmed at the Theatre Royal, Windsor.[13][14] They brought the show to New York in their show which was entitled "Absolutely Miraculous",[15] and was nominated for two Drama Desk Awards on 3 May 2010.[16] They completed a tour of South Africa and then opened successfully in the Charing Cross Theatre in the autumn of 2011, before starting a UK tour.


Camille O'Sullivan is known for having in the past performed her own rendition of Fascinating Aïda's Look Mummy No Hands,[17] as is punk cabaret singer Amanda Palmer. Patti LuPone has recorded Look Mummy No Hands and Shattered Illusions on her album Matters of the Heart, and sung them at her solo show in New York in 2000; Shattered Illusions is also a staple song of Bette Midler.[18][19]

Current and previous members[edit]

Current members[edit]

Previous members[edit]

  • Lizzie Richardson[3] (March 1983 to October 1983, soprano)
  • Marilyn Cutts[5] (March 1983 to December 1983, mezzo, December 1983 to March 1986, soprano)[4]
  • Glenda Smith (October 1983 to December 1983, soprano)[20]
  • Denise Wharmby (1986–1989, Soprano)[21] (August 1986 to April 1989)
  • Issy Van Randwyck (1997–1999, soprano)[22] (March 1994 to July 1999)
  • Charlotte Nytzen (February 2000, soprano)[23]
  • Bonnie Langford (2000, soprano)
  • Sarah-Louise Young (July 2011 to 2012, soprano)

Fascinating Aïda have also in the past been joined by Tony award-winning orchestrator Sarah Travis.

Tour history[edit]

Fascinating Aïda have appeared in over 100 theatres in the United Kingdom and Ireland as well as numerous tours to other countries.[24]

National tours and residencies[edit]

Dillie Keane performing in Barefaced Chic! in 2000
  • 1984 Fascinating AïdaDonmar Warehouse, London. The show ran from 11 December 1984 to 5 January 1985[25]
  • 1985 Fascinating AïdaLyric Hammersmith, London
  • 1986 Fascinating Aïda – Lyric Hammersmith
  • 1987 Fascinating AïdaPiccadilly Theatre, West End, London. The show ran from 19 February to 3 April[26]
  • 1989 Fascinating Aïda – Lyric Hammersmith
  • 1994 Fascinating Aïda – Lyric Hammersmith
  • 1994 Fascinating AïdaGarrick Theatre, West End, London. The show ran from 7 December 1994 to 21 January 1995[27]
  • 1997 Fascinating AïdaApollo Theatre, West End, London. The show ran from 4 to 15 March[28]
  • 1997 It, Wit, Don't Give A Shit GirlsVaudeville Theatre, West End, London. The show ran from 23 January to 15 February[29]
  • 1997 It, Wit, Don't Give A Shit Girls – Lyric Hammersmith. The show ran from 4 to 15 March[29]
  • 1998 It, Wit, Don't Give A Shit Girls – Lyric Hammersmith
  • 1999 Barefaced ChicTheatre Royal, Haymarket, West End, London. The show ran from 9 February to 13 March[30]
  • 2000 Barefaced Chic – Lyric Hammersmith[23]
  • 2003 One Last FlutterComedy Theatre, West End, London. The show ran from 13 November to 6 December[31]
Jermyn Street Theatre, taken 24 May 2008, with Fascinating Aïda performing
  • 2008 Silver JubileeJermyn Street Theatre, London. The show ran from 19 to 31 May. Also small national tour.
  • 2009 25th Anniversary – National tour
  • 2011-2012 Cheap Flights Tour - National tour
  • 2013-2014 Charm Offensive - National tour

2008 mini-tour[edit]

In 2008, Fascinating Aïda had their "Silver Jubilee Concert", celebrating 25 years of Fascinating Aïda. The group performed several weeks in London's Jermyn Street Theatre, and the run included new numbers.[32][33][34] They received positive reviews for their performances.[35] Following their run, they performed in various venues over England, including at the Chichester Festival, the Cheltenham Festival, The Oundle Festival, Aldeburgh, The Harleston and Waveney Festival and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.[36] They also performed in Concert for Russell, which commemorated the life of ex-FA member Russell Churney, who died from pancreatic cancer in 2007.[37][38]

2009 national tour[edit]

Fascinating Aïda embarked on a full scale national tour of the Silver Jubilee show, preceding their autumn tour and New York residency.[39][40]

International tours and residencies[edit]

  • 1988 One month season – Ballroom, West 28th Street, New York City, United States[21]
  • 1998 Small National tour – Australia
  • 1999 Two performances – Hemingways Resort, Watamu, Kenya
  • 1999 Three week season – Bar Jeder Vernunft, Berlin, Germany
  • 2000 Season -Raffles Hotel, Singapore
  • 2003 Red Pear Theatre, Antibes, France September to October[22]
  • 2004 Fascinating Aida - Mofet Theatre, Raanana, Israel
  • 2004 Absolutely Fascinating – 59E59 Theaters, Manhattan, New York City, United States, as part of the Brits Off Broadway Festival of New British Theatre.[7]
  • 2004 Absolutely Fascinating – Acorn Theatre, Manhattan, New York. The show ran from 22 September to 14 November[41]
  • Additionally, they performed at the Wellington Festival in New Zealand, a four-week season at the Firebird Cafe in New York and a later return two-week season at the Firebird Cafe as well as a performance at the New York Cabaret Convention. In 1988 they opened the Sydney Festival for the Bicentennial at the Opera House and played a 4 week season as well as a national tour. They did a further four-week season in New York, a seven-week season at the Mason Street Theater in San Francisco and in 1986 performed at the Sydney Festival and completed a small national tour of Australia.[42]
  • 2009/10 Absolutely Miraculous – 59E59. Fascinating Aida performed in New York as part of the Brits Off-Broadway season,[15] winning two Drama Desk Award nominations.


Fascinating Aïda have released nine albums and three videos.


  • 1984 – Sweet FA
  • 1987 – A Load of Old Sequins
  • 1994 – Live at the Lyric
  • 1997 – It, Wit, Don't Give A Shit Girls
  • 1999 – Barefaced Chic
  • 2003 – Absolutely Fascinating
  • 2003 – One Last Flutter
  • 2009 – Silver Jubilee
  • 2012 - Cheap Flights
  • 2014 - Charm Offensive


  • 2009 - Silver Jubilee
  • 2012 - Cheap Flights (Release Date: Monday 7 May 2012)
  • 2014 - Charm Offensive

Selected awards & nominations[edit]

  • Drama Desk Award
    • Nominated for Best Entertainment – 2005
    • Nominated for Best Entertainment – 2010 (Absolutely Miraculous!)
    • Nominated for Best Lyrics – 2010 (Absolutely Miraculous!)[16]
  • Olivier Awards
    • Nominated for Best Entertainment – 1995 (Live at the Lyric)[43]
    • Nominated for Best Entertainment – 2000 (Barefaced Chic)[44]
    • Nominated for Best Entertainment – 2004 (One Last Flutter)[45]
  • City Limits
    • Voted Most Popular Act – 1985[43]


The Independent gave the One Last Flutter show four stars, naming it a "perfectly judged evening",[47] and IndieLondon said that "One Last Flutter is as good and funny and as full of biting wit and humour as ever."[48] More recently The West End Whingers were unanimously appraising of their Jermyn Street Theatre run.[49] The New York Times said of their Absolutely Fascinating run: "I hope every cabaret singer looking for new material sees this show. Any young musical-theater performer who wants to see the right blend of subtlety and showmanship should too. The rest of us can savor the strong opinions and sharp wits that can make top-notch entertainment."[50]

Other reviews over time include the Mail on Sunday, who said to: "see them before you die otherwise your life will have been meaningless"; The Daily Telegraph, who said that "quite simply, Fascinating Aïda are the tops"; the News of the World, who said that "they are more than ever quite irresistible" and "simply hilarious"; The Financial Times who said that they are "one of the most exquisitely polished shows you are ever likely to see", and The Sunday Telegraph said that their show was "brilliantly conceived and executed… The music is worth hearing again and again”.[51][52]

Their most recent show was reviewed by acclaimed film director Ken Russell in The Times, who said that watching them made him feel he had "died and gone to heaven", and that the trio were "impossibly good".[53]


Fascinating Aïda have released two books.


  1. ^ a b Connor, Sheila (2006). "Interviews: Not Just Fascinating Aïda!". British Theatre Guide. Retrieved 28 January 2008. 
  2. ^ "Best comedy show". Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Awards. Retrieved 10 December 2011. 
  3. ^ a b "Fascinating Aïda". Gavin Barker Associates Ltd. Retrieved 28 January 2008. 
  4. ^ a b c "Song star launches play season". Cumberland News. 26 May 2006. Retrieved 28 January 2008. [dead link]
  5. ^ a b "Fascinating Aïda: One Last Flutter". thisistheatre.com. Retrieved 28 January 2008. 
  6. ^ Keane, Dillie (2008). "Welcome". Fascinating Aïda. Retrieved 31 January 2008. 
  7. ^ a b c d Jefferson, Margo (1 June 2004). "THEATER REVIEW; Ladies, Ladies! When You're Not Cheeky, You're Sneaky". New York Times. Retrieved 28 January 2008. 
  8. ^ [1] Archived 28 December 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ nathan@bluekitedesigns.com for Jermyn Street Theatre. "Jermyn Street Theatre, the official online home of London's leading Off-West-End venue". Jermynstreettheatre.co.uk. Retrieved 25 September 2011. 
  10. ^ "COLE KITCHENN LTD – Producers – General Management – Personal Management". Colekitchenn.com. Retrieved 25 September 2011. 
  11. ^ "Fascinating Aïda YouTube Official". Uk.youtube.com. Retrieved 25 September 2011. 
  12. ^ "The Importance of Being Funny – Interview with Dillie Keane in the ''Irish Times''". The Irish Independent. Retrieved 25 September 2011. 
  13. ^ "Silver Jubilee: Fascinating Aida: Amazon.co.uk: Music". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 25 September 2011. 
  14. ^ "Fascinating Aida – Silver Jubilee". Dresscircle.co.uk. Retrieved 25 September 2011. 
  15. ^ a b "Aanmelden". Facebook. Retrieved 25 September 2011. 
  16. ^ a b "Drama Desk". Drama Desk. Retrieved 25 September 2011. 
  17. ^ "The importance of being funny – Celebrity News & Gossip, Independent Woman". The Irish Independent. Retrieved 25 September 2011. 
  18. ^ The Broadway League. "Matters of the Heart | IBDB: The official source for Broadway Information". IBDB. Retrieved 25 September 2011. 
  19. ^ "Talkin' Broadway – Cabaret Interview with Fascinating Aida". Talkinbroadway.com. 13 June 2004. Retrieved 25 September 2011. 
  20. ^ "Glenda Smith". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 28 January 2008. 
  21. ^ a b Holden, Stephen (14 August 1988). "Review/Cabaret; British Music-Hall by Fascinating Aïda". New York Times. Retrieved 28 January 2008. 
  22. ^ a b "Fascinating Aïda". culturevulture.net. Retrieved 28 January 2008.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "CV-FA" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  23. ^ a b Rampton, James (19 February 2000). "COMEDY: GIG OF THE WEEK; Fascinating Aïda Until 26 Feb Lyric Theatre,". The Independent (UK). Retrieved 28 January 2008. [dead link]
  24. ^ "Into The Woods biographies". Derby Playhouse. Retrieved 28 January 2008. 
  25. ^ "Fascinating Aïda – London Donmar Warehouse". thisistheatre.com. Retrieved 28 January 2008. 
  26. ^ "Fascinating Aïda – London Piccadilly". thisistheatre.com. Retrieved 28 January 2008. 
  27. ^ "Fascinating Aïda – London Garrick Theatre". thisistheatre.com. Retrieved 28 January 2008. 
  28. ^ "Fascinating Aïda – London Apollo Theatre". thisistheatre.com. Retrieved 28 January 2008. 
  29. ^ a b "Fascinating Aïda – London Vaudeville". thisistheatre.com. Retrieved 28 January 2008. 
  30. ^ "Fascinating Aïda – London Haymarket". thisistheatre.com. Retrieved 28 January 2008. 
  31. ^ "Fascinating Aïda – London Comedy Theatre". thisistheatre.com. Archived from the original on 23 December 2007. Retrieved 28 January 2008. 
  32. ^ "Fascinating Aïda Marks 25th Birthday at Jermyn St | What's on Stage News". Whatsonstage. Retrieved 25 September 2011. 
  33. ^ "Jermyn Street Theatre,, Inner London, Greater London". Whatsonstage. 11 March 2011. Retrieved 25 September 2011. 
  34. ^ "Playbill News: Fascinating Aïda to Mark 25th Anniversary with London Concerts". Playbill. Retrieved 25 September 2011. 
  35. ^ "West End Wingers – Review". Westendwhingers.wordpress.com. 22 May 2008. Retrieved 25 September 2011. 
  36. ^ Official Website – Tour Dates
  37. ^ "The Lovely Russell". Playbill. Retrieved 25 September 2011. 
  38. ^ Fascinating Aïda – Official Website
  39. ^ Official Website
  40. ^ Tour Dates
  41. ^ Gans, Andrew (23 September 2004). "Fascinating Aïda to Play NY's Acorn Theatre, Sept. 22-Nov. 14". Playbill News. Retrieved 28 January 2008. 
  42. ^ "Agent FA page – Tours". Gavinbarkerassociates.co.uk. Retrieved 25 September 2011. 
  43. ^ a b "Fascinating Aïda". Gavin Barker Associates. Retrieved 25 September 2011. 
  44. ^ "Albemarle – Awards". Albemarle-london.com. Retrieved 25 September 2011. 
  45. ^ "Laurence Olivier Awards". Curtainup.com. 15 January 2004. Retrieved 25 September 2011. 
  46. ^ Ed Fringe Past Awards
  47. ^ "One Last Flutter – 2003". The Independent (UK). 18 November 2003. Retrieved 25 September 2011. [dead link]
  48. ^ www.t75.org. "IndieLondon Review – One Last Flutter – 2003". Indielondon.co.uk. Retrieved 25 September 2011. 
  49. ^ "West End Whingers Review". Westendwhingers.wordpress.com. 22 May 2008. Retrieved 25 September 2011. 
  50. ^ NY Times Review
  51. ^ "Agent FA page – Reviews". Gavinbarkerassociates.co.uk. Retrieved 25 September 2011. 
  52. ^ "FA perform at the Chichester Festival". Chifest.org.uk. Retrieved 25 September 2011. 
  53. ^ Fascinating Aïda – Times Online, reviewed by Ken Russell

External links[edit]