Liza Pulman and Joe Stilgoe are a Couple of Swells at the Petworth Festival

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Liza Pulman and Joe Stilgoe will be A Couple Of Swells as they play St Mary’s Church, Petworth on Thursday, July 11 at 7.30pm.

Fascinating Aida’s Liza and musician and singer Joe are promising a vibrant and entertaining evening of classic songs and wit, virtuoso piano playing and exquisite vocals – on the back of a UK tour and London date in 2023.

“We only got to know each other in lockdown,” Joe said. “Liza got in touch and said ‘I know we haven't met but I have seen your Shed shows (Joe’s online lockdown show), and I wonder if we could do a duet’ and so we did Memphis In June.”

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As Joe says, you know immediately if it is going to work: “It just felt like meeting a friend of a friend in a pub and you know that you're going to get on with them and I think that's the thing with musicians and singers. You don't have to get out your grade eight certificate or your CV. You know that you have the same wit and the same sense of humour. We got on really well and it turned out that we had very similar points of reference. She has been with Fascinating Aida for 20 years and is still referred to as the new one! She had been in the Glyndebourne chorus and she was a classically trained singer but she also really likes the light comedy songs and jazz, like I do.

Liza Pulman and Joe Stilgoe (contributed pic)Liza Pulman and Joe Stilgoe (contributed pic)
Liza Pulman and Joe Stilgoe (contributed pic)

“She was putting together a new album and said ‘Could you play piano for Bye Bye Blackbird?’ I just did a little reworking of it and then after that she suggested that we do a gig together near where they live in Cornwall. It turns out that her husband was one of the people that used to promote dad (Richard) and Peter Skellern. He used to tour dad and Peter around the country, and so married to a tour promoter, one gig with Liza soon turned into 20. We did a full UK tour in 2023 and we ended up in the West End for one night.

“The whole thing started off at an arts centre in Cornwall as just a warm-up date to see how things would work out. I thought it would be a nice incognito night just finding out how it would go but we started the show and in the front row was Dawn French. She was lovely. We met her afterwards and she really liked the show. We were still figuring it out and there's lots of banter but our warm-up show turned out to be in front of a comedy icon which was very encouraging and so we did the tour which was lovely.

“I definitely didn't want it to be just ‘Let's do some standards.’ We chose lots of songs that really meant something to us but as much as anything we were wanting to create the feel of a great evening that puts people in mind of a glamorous party on the Cote d'Azur or a New York Manhattan apartment where Cole Porter suddenly turns up. It’s a throwback to those 50s glamorous Hollywood parties with a mixture of songs and funny stuff.”

Liza’s 30-year career has included music, theatre and comedy, from Glyndebourne Opera through West End musical theatre and as one-third of the British satirical comedy group, Fascinating Aida.