Theatre’s hammer time with the stars

Big-name celebrities turn out in force to help raise thousands of pounds at Lord’s auctionSTARS of stage and screen came out in force to bolster the coffers of one of Camden’s most prestigious theatres.Ewan McGregor, Tom Conti, Maureen Lipman and Patricia Routledge were among the 500 guests at the Hampstead Theatre Spring Gala, held at Lord’s Cricket Ground on Thursday.As the champagne flowed, supporters of the theatre in Eton Avenue, Swiss Cottage, enjoyed musical entertainment from 1940s-themed swing band The Blonde Bombshells, a lavish three-course meal and a selection of comic scenes from past and future Hampstead Theatre productions.Lord Archer then took up the auctioneer’s hammer, proving his considerable skills as a salesman with the quick-fire auction of 10 lots.Bids on a week in Tuscany, dinner with acting couple Alison Steadman and Michael Elwyn, and drinks at Claridge’s with the author Penny Vincenzi raised more than £53,000 from the celebrity-packed audience.Comedy actress Maureen Lipman, who called one of the lots, also came under the hammer, offering her services as a fundraiser for a charity of the bidder’s choice.While Mrs Lipman fetched a grand total of £4,000, that figure was pipped by the bid of Hollywood actor Ewan McGregor. The Train­spotting star paid £5,000 for a photograph of Elvis Presley and Muhammad Ali, signed by the three times world champion boxer.But it was lot 9 that proved the evening’s biggest money-spinner. The tour of Pinewood Studios with actress Emma Thompson was sold to one generous party-goer for £8,000.Other lots under the hammer were art tours of London, the rare auction catalogue of Princess Diana’s dresses and tickets for some of the top theatres in London, including the Hampstead Theatre.The night, hosted by actress Lynda Bellingham, was rounded off by the “Queen of Burlesque” Immodesty Blaize with her Swarovski-encrusted rocking horse act.Source: