Flanders and Swann Drop Another Hat
with Michael Bernstein and Colin Stevens



“It’s as if they’d never been away”. Thus wrote a critic about this lively and highly amusing musical show written and performed by Michael Bernstein and Colin Stevens. Flanders and Swann Drop Another Hat is a tribute to Michael Flanders and Donald Swann, those two great wits, composers and performers who were pioneers of the satirical humour of the 1950s and ’60s. For over a decade Flanders and Swann played to packed houses in the West End of London and elsewhere in the United Kingdom, and successfully exported their quintessentially English humour to half a dozen countries across the world. Their gentle, intelligent, impeccably detailed comments upon society – animal, vegetable and mineral – are recognised and sung throughout the English-speaking world. Even those who claim never to have heard the names of Flanders and Swann will join in the refrain from their well-loved Hippopotamus Song: Mud, mud, glorious mud!.

In this revival, theatres are once again packed as Bernstein and Stevens recreate the wit, social comment and musical dexterity of the original shows. The audience is transported back to the era of intimate revues as performed in such West End locations as the Comedy Theatre, the Ambassador’s Theatre and the Fortune Theatre, home of Flanders and Swann’s original ‘Hat’ revues.

Michael Bernstein, who plays Flanders to Colin Stevens’s Swann, studied Drama and Education at the Royal Academy of Music. After a thirty-five year career in teaching, which he describes as “exhilarating”, Michael took early retirement and became free to pursue his first love – acting. He has directed and performed principal rôles at numerous venues including the Mermaid, Cambridge and Drury Lane theatres. He has narrated several pieces for Orchestra and Narrator, and has performed Poetry and Jazz with John Dankworth and Cleo Laine. It was while playing Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof in Tring, Hertfordshire, that he met Colin Stevens, who was Musical Director for the show.

Colin Stevens is an accomplished pianist, organist and conductor. He was Organist and Choirmaster at Tring Parish Church for twelve years and, since 1970, has been Conductor and Musical Director of Tring Choral Society – a thriving amateur choir of some 80 singers which gives three major concerts each year. In the theatre Colin has spent most of his time in ‘The Pit’, on piano. He has accompanied countless performances, ranging from Cabaret, Music Hall and Operetta to Grand Opera, and has been Musical Director for a number of shows, including Fiddler On The Roof, My Fair Lady and Side By Side By Sondheim.

Fifteen years after their first meeting at the ‘Fiddler’ auditions in 1982, Michael finally persuaded Colin to leave ‘The Pit’ and make his first appearance on stage. Thus began a highly successful partnership which has taken their show Flanders and Swann Drop Another Hat throughout the UK. They have appeared at numerous Arts Festivals and venues including The Court Theatre, Pendley, The Queen Mother Theatre, Hitchin, The Ellen Terry Theatre, Tenterden, The Rose Theatre, Kidderminster, The Theatre Royal, Margate, Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford and Carlisle Cathedral.

The audience response has been highly enthusiastic among all age groups. Whole families leave the performances sharing and singing what they have just heard, and there have already been calls from a number of venues for repeat performances.

In Flanders and Swann Drop Another Hat, Michael Bernstein and Colin Stevens are united in their devotion to the work of their mentors. As Richard Whitmore wrote – “Michael and Colin’s tribute contains all their finest work and there are some wonderful – almost uncanny – moments when you feel that the great originals are back with us again”. However, just like Flanders and Swann, Michael and Colin are two very different characters and they have begun to spark off each other as the show has developed, adding a further layer of subtle humour to the hugely enjoyable wit of these lovingly re-created songs.