10x8 Rose Collis 3 (505x640) (2)

For LGBT History Month, Rainbow Hamletswith the support of LB Tower Hamlets — is proud to present the first London run of Trouser-Wearing Characters, written and performed by Rose Collis.

This original entertainment ­ — a unique mixture of music, history and comedy — is the first-ever original, one-woman cabaret-style musical show created and performed by a British author.

It combines stories, vignettes and songs (evergreens and originals) about some of her favourite, eclectic ‘trouser-wearing characters’, from Nancy Spain to Colonel Barker, Dougie Byng to the ‘f**king lady’ herself, Coral Browne — with cameo ‘appearances’ by the likes of Noel Coward, Marlene Dietrich and Vincent Price.

Since making its world premiere at the Brighton Fringe Festival 2012, the show has appeared at festivals and venues throughout the UK, from Manchester to Margate, Worthing to Wigtown. Early in 2013, it had a hugely successful five-week tour of New Zealand and Australia, appearing at Auckland Fringe, NZWellington Fringe, Sydney Mardi Gras and Adelaide Fringe — the second biggest arts festival in the world.

Trouser-Wearing Characters is a one-woman show, with a cast of many characters — including Rose’s veteran banjolele,  ‘Bud’. ‘Most people won’t know that, before I became an author and journalist, I was a performer and songwriter in fringe theatre, from 1979 until 1985’, reveals Rose. ‘The show’s origins began with an appearance I made in May 2011 at Polari on the Southbank and, though it was a short set, the combination of comedy,  history and song was a hit with the audience — and it was one of the easiest and best ideas I’ve ever had to develop a full-length show.’

Trouser-Wearing Characters brings together everything I’ve done in my careers, from singing and writing original songs, to researching and relating stories of fascinating and quirky figures. I think the show has something for everyone, whether they enjoy showbiz-type anecdotes, real-life scandals or even just songs performed on a banjolele. So, I hope audiences will not only think, “I really enjoyed that”, but also “I never knew that!”’


‘Rose Collis has the air of someone moving to the next level: all the elements of her previous experience researching, writing and performing unite during this show in a natural and self-assured way. This show is crammed full of facts and unexpected connections…in a theatrical exploration of colourful characters who defied expectations in order to reinvent themselves, she also sings and presents the material with enough theatricality to bring her subjects to life.’                                                                Lucy Nordberg, Fringe Review

 ‘…Collis’s genuine affection for her cross-dressing eccentrics is the heart of this show. That makes it work, and creates something quirky and uplifting.’                                                                                                          Mathilda Gregory, Fringe Guru

‘Collis has excelled in creating something that has moved beyond any general label. Although the show has a distinctly queer theme, the way in which Collis skilfully illuminates the lives of her trouser-wearing characters means that they each shine simply as interesting and outstanding human beings irrespective of any gender judgements. Trouser-Wearing Characters is a highly-entertaining and personal piece of cabaret theatre that will be appreciated by a broad audience.’                                                                            Theatre Review New Zealand

‘Can an historian ever be entertaining? When the historian is Rose Collis and the subject is delightfully decadent and debauched, the answer is a big ‘over the top’ YES!’                                                                        Adelaide Theatre Guide


‘Collis is a character in herself; in the future, surely someone will be singing a song about her.’  The Argus

Rose Collis is available for interview (high-res images attached).
To contact, or for more information about Rose Collis and Trouser-Wearing Characters, visit

February 5 (preview night), 14, 15 & 16,

Gallery Cafe Stage, 21 Old Ford Road, London E2 9PL. Nearest tube: Bethnal Green.

Doors 7pm, show 7.30pm. Tickets: £6 (£5 concessions).

Book tickets at

To find out more about Rainbow Hamlets, the newly staffed charity serving LGBT people in Tower Hamlets, visit

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