Last week we had the pleasure of speaking to older guest Patrick Macintyre, an 81 year former ballet dancer living in the North of England. Softly spoken, but full of wit and wonderful stories, he told us about his 30 year career in the West End, Royal encounters and joining Contact the Elderly earlier this year.
Patrick was born in the small town of Winnipeg Canada, his mother was captain of a curling team, and his father worked at the railroad.
As a young boy Patrick had never thought about dancing before. It wasn’t until his Grade three teacher phoned up his mother and told her she believed Patrick belonged in the Arts that it even crossed his mind. Not knowing where exactly to send him, she consoled with her curling team mates who told her about a local ballet school that had just opened. Patrick was invited along to the men’s class, “That’s when I decided I wanted to do it for the rest of my life and I did.”
His first professional performance was in 1948 and he continued to tour with Winnipeg Ballet until he was 18 when he then moved to The Royal Ballet School in New York,“We toured across the whole of the US and Europe. It was very tiring. You never got to see anything apart from 400 mile bus journeys. “
After finishing the leg of his European tour, Patrick moved his wife and two children to Kent. Arriving at Euston station in London on the hunt for a job with £2 in his pocket. Patrick met up with an old friend who offered him a part in a production at the The Prince of Wales theatre.
Patrick then went on to star in the original production of West Side Story for two years, and continued his west end reign for another 30, performing in a number of different productions in film, TV and theatre.
He tells us his favourite performance was at the Fredrick Lowe memorial concert in 1988 in New York where he shared the stage with a number of Hollywood stars including Julie Andrews, Robert Goulet and Jack Jones. “We performed ‘A little bit of luck’ from My Fair Lady. I wasn’t nervous because I couldn’t be. The audience was full of Hollywood royalty. Everyone had been told to wear black and diamonds. It amazing but overwhelming at the same time“
After he retired from dancing, he became the manager of the Old Vic Theatre when it reopened under the ownership of Toronto department-store entrepreneur Ed Mirvish. Whilst he was there he had a number of encounters with the Royal Family, including a time when the Queen arrived 20 minutes early for the Royal Variety Performance and he had to occupy her in the bar. “She kept apologising for being early.” He says. “ There was another time when Prince Margaret came and ordered caviar from the bar, but we didn’t have any. We had to run round the whole of London trying to find some!”
It was after he left The Old Vic and he became an Ofsted inspector that he decided to write his autobiography.
“I was travelling around the country visiting different schools and everyone kept telling me that I must write a book. I think it sold around 7000 copies when it was published. “
Patrick then moved from Kent to Brighton to care for his wife who was suffering from Parkinsons. After she sadly passed away he moved up North to be closer to his children. He joined Contact the Elderly earlier on this year and says “He is very much enjoying it.”
You can buy Patrick’s book here.
If you know an older person who you think might benefit from joining a Contact the Elderly group please refer them today.