Towering blonde ex-Vegas showgirl Miss Hope Springs is set to make her Edinburgh debut at the Playhouse this year. And behind the makeup, Ty Jeffries is no stranger to the real-life glamour of Hollywood. Pete Shaw grabbed a moment of Ty’s time to find out more.
The guest lists to the parties my parents threw back in those days read like a veritable showbiz Who’s Who. So it was not a normal childhood in any sense of the word.
Tell us about your Edinburgh Show
“I’m so excited to be doing Edinburgh with my band Gordon Davidson on Bass and Alyn Cosker on Drums, both from the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra. As my alter ego, ex-Vegas showgirl-turned-lounge singer, Miss Hope Springs, I play the piano and sing my self penned repertoire of jazz, pop and musical theatre style originals. I have been writing songs since I was five years old. As a teenager I was taught my first jazz chords by Sir John Mills, had my first publishing deal at 16 (Bill Martin and Phil Coulter of Puppet on a String Fame) and I was later signed to Elton John’s Rocket Music, working with amongst others Chaka Khan and Vangelis. Miss Hope Springs has been described as being a cross between Peggy Lee and Barry Manilow which is a great compliment... as long as they mean I look like the Peggy and sound like Barry and not the other way around! She is an ageing glamor-puss with a Ritz to the pitz backstory, a heart of gold, and an ever so slightly poison tongue.“
In real life, you're the son of the legendary Lionel Jeffries. What was it like growing up in a Hollywood showbiz family?
“Looking back on it now I can see what an extraordinary childhood it was. When I wasn't at boarding school in the UK I was in Beverly Hills having dinner with Fred Astaire, with whom I danced afterwards down Sunset Blvd, swimming in the private pool of our villa at The Chateaux Marmont Hotel with Franco Nero and being sung to on the knee of Maurice Chevalier. Shirley MacLaine and Shelly Winters were firm family friends who often came to the house and lovely Diana Dors was my mum’s best friend and my ‘Auntie Di’. The guest lists to the parties my parents threw back in those days read like a veritable showbiz Who’s Who. So it was not a normal childhood in any sense of the word.”
For the last two years you've been a feature of the West End at The Crazy Coqs. How has that been?
“It was an honour to play that gorgeous room for so long, and to have a weekly residency in the West End performing one’s own original material is pretty much unheard of. I write all the time and I would do a new season every few months. My French show Je m’appelle Hope, Latin Ala Springs, Out of This World, Recovering Showgirl and so on… as well as a season of all original Christmas songs and my hugely popular NYE shows. The proprietors Jeremy King and Chris Corbin (OBEs ) made a huge difference to my career when they asked me to come on board, and although we were still selling out and getting great reviews I thought it was time to move on and leave things on a high. They have invited me back anytime... so I hope to be appearing there again someday soon.”
So why now take on the Edinburgh Fringe?
“After so long with the responsibility of a making a weekly residency work. I felt it was time to spread my sequined wings, and this has given me the chance to go to places like Edinburgh which I couldn’t have done before. Edinburgh is a wonderful platform to reach out to new audiences. Crazy Coqs was divinely recherché and, for all it’s success, a rather a hidden gem. Its time for me to say ‘Hello world!’ and start spreading the ‘Gospel of Hope’ further afield… and before they get separated from us once and for all and we have to travel there by boat, I thought it was a good time to hit Scotland.”
If you could host the ultimate cabaret line up, what performers - dead or alive - would be on your playbill?
“I would firstly ask my late Godmother Ada Bricktop Smith to be on the bill. She was the lady Cole Porter wrote Miss Otis Regrets for; the originator of The Black Bottom dance and the lover of Josephine Baker. They toured in the Revue Nègre together in the 1920’s. I would ask Lena Horne (who I was lucky enough to know… she had such warmth, elegance and grace), I’d ask an 18 year old Joan Crawford to do one of her famous flapper dances and I’d ask a 45 year old Judy, a 70 year old Marlene and a 22 year old Barbra Streisand to pop in to do a turn. I would ask Divine and Klaus Nomi to join us and Burt Bacharach to play for us all, my mate Adam Ant does a great acoustic live set so I’d ask him to bring his guitar, oh, and I’d love to get a chance to reprise that dance with Mr Astaire... Now that would make quite a show.”
If you’re looking forward to seeing Miss Hope Springs as much as we are, you can catch the show at the The Boards, Edinburgh Playhouse from 6th to 15th August (Wed-Fri).
Photo credit: Richard Truscott