Special events: the full 'Monty' at Grand Lodge
Freemasons' Hall continues to attract major commercial events, as Karen Haigh explains
Among recent star events that have taken place at Freemasons’ Hall (FMH) is Spamalot – the musical production of Monty Python’s famous Holy Grail and the Alternative Hair Show, the biggest show at Grand Lodge since opening its doors to events last year.
After being approached by Laughalot, the production company for Spamalot in May 2006 it was with a sense of optimism that we entered into the planning of the event with the organisers.
We knew from the beginning that the event was going to be fun, but we had no idea how wonderfully the building was going to be transformed for the West End hit musical, and how much the building would allow the parts of the show to come to life within its various areas assigned for the party.
Its creator, Eric Idle, one of the original Monty Python team, visited the building and was very impressed and from his suggested ideas for the party great detail went into the event, even down to what menus were used by caterers ‘Create’ on the night.
As the media interest began to build up for the opening night, there was great excitement that the Monty Python team would be re-united. On the night of the event many stars of the stage and TV came to Freemasons’ Hall, but the most memorable part of the evening was seeing the Monty Python team laughing and talking together within Grand Lodge.
The Alternative Hair Show is an annual event to raise money for sufferers of leukaemia. Organiser Tony Rizzo decided to utilise his expertise in the hairdressing world after the death of his son, Valentino, from leukaemia and the Show was born at Camden Palace in 1983.
In previous years the event has been held at the Royal Albert Hall and for the organisers to move the event to FMH was quite a challenge. It had taken months of preparation from them and FMH staff to make sure the event was a success.
It took from the Friday until the Sunday to transform the Grand Temple for this 90-minute theatrical show. Behind the scenes there were 19 teams from all over the world who were performing, and many areas within the building became dressing and make-up rooms.
During the Sunday evening there were three performances with an audience of 1,400 per show, and the final gala performance culminated with the appearance of Vidal Sassoon, who was heralded by a fanfare of trumpeters.
The event raised £162,000 for Leukaemia Research.