Published: October 11, 2010
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Meet SBF member, British Angela Collier Esteves, born in London and educated in England and Australia. At the age of 18 she became a Bluebell Girl and worked in the Lido, Paris and the Scala, Barcelona. She also worked in the Casino du Liban, Beirut, where she started her singing career which eventually led her to sing in Europe. She has always been connected to entertainment and this first-hand knowledge is expressed in her present passionate career - writing. Her romantic novels London to Las Vegas and Strangers on the Shore combine romance, music and dance, set within the background of show business. Living in Portugal, married with three grown-up sons, she also teaches English as a foreign language.
We asked Angela to tell us more about her Showbiz life...
Angela Esteves

Quote ...the experience of living abroad, earning excellent money and meeting extraordinary people who make a difference, I see now was a privilege!
  • How old were you when you started dancing and what inspired you to take it up?
    Paris, Lido
Pourquoi Pas?
Angela in the Chinese number costume
1969 Angela Esteves: I had no ambitions to be a dancer when I was young, but did always enjoy singing and took every opportunity to sing as a child at parties, or just at home. When I was 16, an old aunt came to visit and when she saw how tall I was, she spoke about Miss Bluebell, whom she had worked with in the Jackson Girls. She then wrote to Miss Bluebell and this led to an audition in London with Peter Baker and eventually in 1969, when I was 18, I flew to Paris to work as a showgirl. When I arrived I made my way to Miss Bluebell's apartment, in Rue Marbeuf and she met me in a glamorous pink negligee and sat me down to talk. I felt in complete awe of both her and her luxurious apartment, but what has always stayed with me about Bluebell from that first meeting and throughout the time I worked for her, was her complete lack of airs. She spoke plainly and down to earth and managed to make me feel less intimidated during that first meeting.From there I went into rehearsals at the old Lido and for a few weeks shared accommodation in the apartments above the Lido. I had literally never met anyone on the same level as Miss Bluebell and listened to her every word when it came to rehearsals and becoming a showgirl. That opportunity led me into a completely different world compared to the very ordinary life I had led until then. Looking back now I can see that I made a decision to do everything as she wished in order to improve and although it was not all plain sailing for me, fortunately I had the presence of mind to work to the best of my ability.
    Another good fortune, which helped me with my writing, was to know acts such as Siegfried and Roy, Gino Donati, Francis Brunn and Milo and Roger, to name but a few and experience first-hand their dedication and countless hours of practice.

  • Paris, Lido
Pourquoi Pas? By the Sea
Angela is the 3rd one from left
1969 What's your most memorable show and the highest moment of your life as a performer?
    AE:The most memorable moment for me was not a show or performance, but it was the night Miss Bluebell took me into the showroom to watch the show for the first time. This was 1969 and I had never witnessed a show like the Lido's Pourquoi Pas before. I became mesmerized from the beginning until the curtain came down. I could not believe that I would actually be a part of such a show, lights, music, dancers and acts and that night I could not sleep as I relived the show over and over again. In fact it would be many nights before I could relax and sleep once the rehearsals and the first few shows were over.
    The highest moment for me was singing in Monaco in 1974 for the Silver Jubilee Celebrations of Prince Rainier and Princess Grace and then watching a show organized especially for the event with acts that I had met from my time at the Lido.

  • Paris, Lido
Pourquoi Pas?
Angela as Greta Garbo
1969 What's your funniest moment on stage?
    AE: I remember that in Grand Prix there was a space number which I think was called Barbarella. Marlene Charell the star of the show did a dance routine with a boy dancer on a mechanical contraption, which had seats suspended from the 'space machine' with four showgirls seated on it, as it moved above the audience turning clockwise. It seemed quite a complicated special effect which didn't always work according to plan. One night the space ship stopped and started, turning in all directions, while in the quiet of the showroom as the audience watched we could hear the head machinist bellowing orders to his team as they scrambled behind the curtains to get the space ship to co-ordinate. Our seats, instead of majestically lowering us showgirls to floor level, remained stuck and suspended in the air while Marlene Charell did her best to pick up her routine and we showgirls clumsily clambered down from the machine and dashed back stage for the next routine. Back stage there was pandemonium as the machine refused to budge, so the next number was delayed as it was unceremoniously pushed into its rightful position for its exit.
    Quote is so easy to view life in negative terms when all around you appears that way, but we can pull ourselves out of that mode if we aim for a goal in life and preparation is the key...

  • What was your most embarrassing costume?
    AE: My most embarrassing costume which I absolutely hated was in a Hollywood extravaganza number which was a great tribute to Hollywood, but as my costume consisted of an enormous pink feathered fan which I wore on my back, I really hated it. The effect along with similar costumes on stage was fantastic, but I dreaded putting on that costume for that number at the Lido and never kept any photos of myself in it.
    Paris, Lido
Grand Prix
Angela in the Medieval number
  • How have your Showbiz years helped you in your life after the stage and if you could do it all over again, would you?

    AE: I worked for Bluebell in Pourquoi Pas and Grand Prix. At that time there were no nights off, so we did two shows a night and three on Sunday. Then when the rehearsals were held in the afternoons until early evening for Grand Prix and we still had the shows to do at night and only finished at 3 a.m., I learnt the meaning of hard work. For although it was a glamorous life style, living and working on the Champs Elysees and earning a 100 pounds a week, the hours were long. So I also learnt that you have to make the effort and life is not always roses. From the Lido I went to work in the Casino du Liban, Beirut for the producer Charlie Henchis as a showgirl. I stayed for two years and during that time I auditioned for him as a singer. So I continued to do the show every night, which in fact was only one performance a night, but sang with the orchestra before the show in the showroom while the audience were having dinner, then sang after the show in the gambling rooms. Because Charlie Henchis gave me that opportunity to sing in the casino and Miss Bluebell gave me work and support in the Lido and later at the Scala, Barcelona, I have never forgotten them and my admiration for them is expressed in my two novels. Their own hard work and stamina are still an inspiration to me and to any performer who has the talent to develop. So, would I do it all again? Definitely, the experience of living abroad, earning excellent money and meeting extraordinary people who make a difference, I see now was a privilege!

  • Barcelona, Scala
Cita en Scala
Angela in the Jungle number
1973 Do you have any special memories of Miss Bluebell that you would like to share with us?
    AE: When I knew and worked for Miss Bluebell I was not aware of her life story. It was not until I saw the television series, Bluebell and then read her biography which went into even greater detail that I realized the hardships she had faced and the determination she possessed to conquer life's obstacles.
    My recollections of her friendship towards me are many. When I went to work in Beirut at Casino du Liban I received an unexpected phone call from her to say she would be visiting Beirut and asked if I could meet her. She went to see the show and the following day I had a drink with her at her hotel and I remember her daughter Florence was with her. She told me about the first Las Vegas MGM show, Hallelujah Hollywood! she was putting together with Donn Arden and said she wanted me to work in that show. It was a very tempting offer for me, but I still had a further year on my contract at the Casino du Liban and, as I was also singing, I did not want to miss the opportunity. She understood my refusal and graciously asked me to meet Donn Arden so he would keep me in mind for future work and we had a relaxed time chatting in general about their upcoming show.
    Later in the early 80's I was in Paris with my husband and four-year-old son and she arranged for us to see the show. I explained I wasn't sure how my son would behave as he was so young, but she said not to worry. When the show started Bluebell took my son by the hand and led him to the foot of the stage, where he sat by himself to watch the entire show. He was entranced during the whole performance and didn't move or fall asleep! These are but a few of my memories of Bluebell, not discounting her letters and photos of herself over the years.

  • Barcelona, Scala
Cita en Scala
Angela in the Jungle number
1973 Where did you get your inspiration from to write London to Las Vegas?
    AE: From what I've written above it's easy to see the inspiration to write this book came from my knowledge of life at the Lido and Casino du Liban.
    My observations of Miss Bluebell and Charlie Henchis in their work led me to think of writing loosely about their professional lives and the day-to-day running of their dance troupes, business affairs and the stamina and determination they both had to succeed.
    I sent Miss Bluebell a very rough draft of my novel, London to Las Vegas and explained she was my inspiration, we spoke over the phone and she was very touched that I had thought of her as I wrote the character for my story. My second book, Strangers on the Shore, brings together elements of my singing career which I explore through a love story between an ex-Bluebell dancer/singer and a famous American musician. Needless to say, I would never have been able to write about these themes if I had never worked for Miss Bluebell and Charlie Henchis - I would have had no insight into that world.
    There are many parallels between Miss Bluebell's upbringing and my mother's and so I decided to write a fictional story, whereby my mother went on to fame and fortune. My mother never experienced any form of fame, but her great-grandfather was the agent and songwriter to a famous English music-hall artist named Marie Lloyd. This artist was as famous in her day as the Beatles (late 1800's-early 1900's). My mother's mother and rest of the family were also music-hall entertainers, but because my mother was illegitimate, she neither benefited nor knew of this liaison until an adult. So, through fiction, I changed my mother's destiny.

  • Póvoa de Varzim, Casino da Póvoa de Varzim
Pierre Noel Show
Angela singing
1974 What advice would you give to up and coming performers?
    Quote ...what has always stayed with me about Bluebell from that first meeting and throughout the time I worked for her, was her complete lack of airs...
    AE: My advice would be that however difficult and hopeless our initial years may be, or if we experience limitations, don't dwell on that fact. Instead, believe that you deserve and are worthy of everything you want in life. This is a difficult concept to take on board, especially when it is so easy to view life in negative terms when all around you appears that way, but we can pull ourselves out of that mode if we aim for a goal in life and preparation is the key. If you have an artistic talent find the means to develop it or study towards the profession you choose to practice. Don't be reticent in asking for help along the way - there will be someone out there who takes the time to help you, if you help yourself.

  • What do you think of ShowBiz Friends?
    AE: I am just amazed that ShowBiz Friends allows people to not only get back into contact with former colleagues, but brings to life once again the shows they have worked in. When I started writing London to Las Vegas, apart from the reasons I have described for writing it, I had the strong desire to recreate the life I once lived. SBF surely enables people, who like me many years ago shared a unique experience, to do this.
    If they would like to send a message to me via ShowBiz Friends I'd love to be in contact. Finally, I am preparing my third novel, this time based on my experiences working for Charlie Henchis at Casino du Liban and the way of life the artists enjoyed during those years, now long forgotten. I'm hoping to jog memories of those who worked for him when that casino was considered to outrival Las Vegas. I often wonder what greater achievements Charlie Henchis would have accomplished if Lebanon had not been ravaged by war...
    Thanks so much for the opportunity to do this interview and hope too that your readers will take the time to look at my two books, which are now available as E-book downloads through the following direct links to the publisher:

    link to Angela Esteves
    link to London to Las Vegas
    link to Strangers on the Shore

    Price: 3.50 pounds sterling per download

    Thank you Angela for this great interview and best of luck for your new project!