A WAR of words has erupted after comedian Freddie Starr left hundreds of theatre goers in the lurch after claiming his dressing room wasn’t up to scratch.
Staff at St Helens Theatre Royal were stunned when the 68-year-old funnyman walked out just hours before the local date of his comeback tour show on Saturday (October 1).
Starr’s management company later claimed that he failed to perform because his dressing room wasn’t up to scratch for “someone like him”.
Theatre manager Chantelle Nolan explained that the carpet in one of the Corporation Street venue’s eight dressing rooms was temporarily missing because of a recent flood.
But she said the comedian – famous for the 1980s tabloid headline “Freddie Starr Ate My Hamster” – didn’t even give staff the chance to show him an alternative.
She told the Reporter: “He turned up unannounced at about 5pm, went straight into one of the dressing rooms, then walked out onto the stage, said ‘I’m not staying here’ and went out the back door. He was in and out in a flash.
“Apart from that particular dressing room having no carpet, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it. There’s mirrors, lights, a sink and a couch – and all our dressing rooms are cleaned before the stars arrive.
“But the frustrating thing is that he didn’t even make himself known to the stage manager – who could even have put him up in a hotel if that’s what he wanted.
“We had no choice but to offer the 300-plus customers full refunds.”
One disgruntled fan, who took her mother and aunt, who are both pensioners, to the show, told of her disbelief at discovering the show had been cancelled.
She said: “As we turned the corner to the theatre there was a long queue, four people wide, waiting patiently for refunds at the box office.
“A member of staff told us that Freddie Starr had turned up, decided he couldn’t do the show and quickly left in his car!
“He has apparently done this before at the Theatre Royal, and also at many other venues in the past.”
But Freddie Starr’s manager, Steven Lloyd, backed his client.
He said: “Part of Mr Starr’s contract with each venue is that they supply a clean dressing room. This was not provided, therefore it was a breach of contract.
“Our crew, which consists of two sound engineers, a cameraman and two support artists still have to be paid by us, so this has cost us several thousand pounds.
“Freddie is sorry he didn’t play the show but, at the same time, hygiene and health and safety come first.”