The actress who created one of musical theatre’s most tragic screen heroines will come to Blackpool this Sunday – to celebrate 50 years since her landmark role.
Shani Wallis’s heart-wrenching performance of As Long As He Needs Me as Nancy in Oliver! – in the iconic red dress – is one of the stand out moments in the classic movie musical.
And as the film’s 50th anniversary is marked this year, she was persuaded by friend and movie memorabilia enthusiast Gregor Gee, who moved to Blackpool last summer, to stage an intimate afternoon concert for just 100 fans at Blackpool’s West Coast Rock Cafe.
She was a star of stage and screen before Oliver! gave her life-long recognition and performed with the likes of Liberace, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Tony Bennett at the height of her fame.
“A lot of people just know her from Oliver!, but her career outside of that is even more interesting, and impressive.
“When she was touring with Liberace, he was the biggest name in the world – and that was 12 years before Oliver! yet that’s what she’s known for.”
Gregor has been friends with Shani for some time, and while staying with her over Christmas in 2016 he suggested an event to mark the film’s anniversary.
“I’ve been trying to organise something with her for a few years,” he added. “She’s 85 now, and as fit as a fiddle - and her voice is still in tip top shape.
“I’ve had messages from all over the world, wishing her well, since announcing this show and fans have been sending presents for her because they can’t make it.”
Shani was born in Tottenham, in April 1933 - a real Cockney lass, but now lives in California.
The event starts at 2.30pm. Tickets cost £25 from www.eventbrite.co.uk.