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And Off To... And Back Home For... City of London Festival 2015

10 July 2015


Having lost their regular bowler hat venue due to unforeseen circumstances, Grange Hotels was delighted to step in and save the day this summer for the City of London Festival, by hosting several events at our very own ‘bowler hat club’, ClubTEN, as well as the Atrium at our 5-Star Grange St. Paul’s Hotel.

As the festival draws to an end for another year, we were delighted to go and see two events on Thursday 9th July, wherein the eclectic festival straddled the contemporary and the traditional with An Audience with Mrs Moneypenny taking place at ClubTEN and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying just down the road at Guildhall Great Hall.

The festival’s climax comes in the form of a Friday evening performance at our Grange St. Paul’s Hotel, where West End star Will Barratt will perform in the spectacular glass Atrium; the perfect end to 3 fantastic weeks of comedy, culture and cabaret!

An Audience with Mrs Moneypenny – ClubTEN at Grange St. Paul’s Hotel

Heather McGregor, aka Mrs Moneypenny, brought along with her an impressive list of accolades to her performance, including entrepreneur, columnist, TV presenter, author and, not least, philanthropist. And it is the latter, she told us, which has been her most rewarding venture; founding the Taylor Bennett Foundation in 2008 to help black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) candidates to join the communications profession, for which she has invested a huge amount of her own money. “Well”, she explained, “if I got hit by a bus tomorrow, what would I want people to say about me - that I was mortgage-free?”

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ClubTEN at Grange St. Paul’s Hotel

After stepping on stage, Mrs Moneypenny quickly requested that we have the house lights on - after all, this was to be an “intimate affair” and she wanted to engage with us as though we were in her living room (despite actually being in a “discothèque”). Her familiar demeanour put us at ease right away, as she began sharing hilarious stories about her girlfriends, husband and 3 sons – who she refers to as cost centres #1, #2 and #3. The show was filled with countless anecdotes like these from her column in the Financial Times where her pseudonym first came to life, and included props from her time on Channel 4’s SuperScrimpers; namely her iconic orange Orvis hat.

Unlike your typical comedian, every story Mrs Moneypenny told us was completely true, from an interesting ‘love hotel’ experience in Japan to the unfortunate Amazon algorithm which teamed her book with the eloquently titled, Run Fat B*tch Run. Despite her worldly knowledge and experience then, Mrs Moneypenny was not afraid to poke fun at herself; openly admitting that she didn’t know who Michael Bublé was and that she had to smile politely when he jokingly introduced himself to her as a Rubik’s cube champion.

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Claire Farrington (Partnerships Manager, Grange Hotels) and ‘Mrs Moneypenny’

The show finished with some off the cuff audience participation, wherein we were invited to interrogate Mrs Moneypenny on any aspect of her life in return for a copy of her latest hardback. All in all, the evening featured the perfect blend of wit and intellect, not to mention a history of enviable accomplishments, with Mrs Moneypenny casually inviting us all to join her for a drink at the bar before she headed off for a spot of Japanese ‘eatertainment’ at our in-house Teppanyaki restaurant, Benihana St. Paul’s.

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying – Guildhall Great Hall

Under the extravagant ceiling of the Guildhall Great Hall, the City of London Festival continued with a stunning concert performance of the 1967 musical comedy How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. While the key performers, along with their ensemble and chorus, sat in rows with the orchestra, there was no short of theatrics and reverie in this illustration of J. Pierpont Finch’s journey from window cleaner to board member. 

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Guildhall Great Hall

British professional TV and theatre actor, Scott Garnham, played Finch; a man turning to a book for advice on how to climb the corporate ladder with wicked speed. Narrated by special-guest, Nick Hewer, this how-to guide leads us through two acts of hilarity and antics anyone in the corporate world can surely appreciate.

Inspired by Shepherd Mead’s best-selling book of the same name, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying is a witty comedy, dripping with corporate satire. From songs about the horrors of a broken coffee machine to those advising to always do things “the company way,” the entire show went on over the buzz of an ever-chuckling audience. A true crowd-pleaser, we in the audience particularly enjoyed a jolly J. B. Biggley hopping across the stage during a rendition of the Old Ivy Fight Song - go groundhogs!

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Guildhall Great Hall

The performance, studded by incredible musical talent, made for the perfect night of businesspeople laughing at businesspeople - a grand success for what seemed a truly effortless performance by the actors.