Virtual Variety show raises funds for children’s hospice

Samantha Spiro Ian West/PA Wire

Samantha Spiro Ian West/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Singer Vivienne Isebor, actor Nitin Ganatra and Olivier award winner Sam Spiro will appear live from King Alfred School’s Phoenix Theatre in aid of Noah’s Ark hospice

Nitin Ganatra

Nitin Ganatra - Credit: PA

Music, magic, and comedy will be broadcast from Golders Green’s Phoenix Theatre to raise funds for Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospice.

The virtual variety show on September 13 will be compered by Nitin Ganatra of Eastenders fame, and feature conjuring from magician Marc Spelmann, comedy from Ivor Dembina, and music from The Voice’s Vivienne Isebor.

The Barnet-based charity provides clinical, practical and emotional support to families across North and Central London, helping them make the most of the time they have left with their seriously unwell children.

Olivier Award winning actress Sam Spiro will read The Cat in The Hat as requested by one of them, Nix.

The Queen’s Park-based actor said: “It will be live, there won’t be an audience and all the performers will be socially distanced at the Phoenix Theatre, but I was honoured to be asked to read a story that a little girl wanted to hear.

“When I started looking into the charity, I was blown away by the work they do with children and babies and so moved by this extraordinary place which is set in seven and a half acres, with a sensory room, soft play and art room.

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“It can’t take away the pain of what it’s there for - end of life care - but it really helps the whole family and especially the children to give a sense of purpose and a bit of normality during a painful time.

“Like many charities they are in need of funds because their usual fund-raising events have been cancelled. Everyone is a bit strapped for cash at the moment, but if you have anything spare it’s really needed to keep Noah’s Ark afloat.”

Spiro has been unable to work since February but is due to start filming the third series of Netflix comedy Sex Education next month, reprising her role as headmaster’s wife Maureen Groff.

She is also filming a new BBC drama, Ridley Road based on Joe Bloom’s novel about the rise of fascism in the East End after World War I.

Spiro who has won Olivier Awards for Merrily We Roll Along at The Donmar Warehouse and her portrayal of Dolly Levi in Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre’s Hello Dolly! said Covid-19 has been devastating for her industry.

“It’s a tragedy. The Open Air theatre is managing to battle through with a concert performance of Jesus Christ Superstar which is fabulous, but it can’t go on like that forever. The theatre needs to get audiences in.

“I have so many friends out of work and feel so lucky to have two TV programmes in production hoping to start filming by September.

“I love watching Sex Education as much as I love being in it, and Ridley Road about a group of anti fascists in the East End has been written by the wonderful Sarah Solemani. It’s exciting to get on with doing what I love and hopefully things will start getting back to normal.”

Tickets are now on sale via eventbrite for Because We Can 2020 on September 13 at 4pm, with a suggested £16 donation with all proceeds going to Noah’s Ark.