Cassie & Selwyn Tillett: Christmas Letters


Dear Friends

Well, it's another of those letters... when I tell you what's been going on, you'll understand why time has been rather limited!

Where were we? Oh, yes... when I wrote last Christmas, I'd just moved into the above flat, and was well satisfied with the thought of staying in one place for some time. Well, I'm still here... just.

One of the recipients of last year's version of this letter was an old friend of mine, who I know through Imperial Opera (with whom I performed A Little Night Music some three years ago). He's one of their accompanists, and I'd met him a few times at musical events - we'd kept in occasional touch - Christmas cards, changes of address and the like.

Back in late February 1994, I received a phone call from him, to see how I was. At the time, he thought I was still going out with my previous boyfriend - but that had been over for about a year at that time. Having found out that I wasn't, he took me out to dinner on 3 March - and we're getting married on 17 April 1995 - Easter Monday.

Picked yourself up off the floor yet? Just to add to the story... can you really see Cassie as the vicar's wife? That's right - he's Rector of St Mary's, Beddington. And no digs about a certain television series, either! The congregation have all been very welcoming - we announced our engagement at his 40th birthday "do", which was ostensibly a parish party but just happened to be arranged for 15 October, the day before his birthday - he said that this was the only way of upstaging the churchwardens!

Yes, it's all moved very fast - but he's a fast worker - the huge bunch of yellow flowers (mit-red-rose-in-the middle-yet) delivered to my office on the day after our first date, and five days in Paris in the middle of April, did help! I'd never believed in this sort of thing, but the penny dropped with a resounding thud pretty quickly.

So who is he? His name's Selwyn Tillett. I've been told that Selwyn & Cassie Tillett sounds like a music hall act... which isn't too inappropriate, really. He's 40, as I said (life begins...), 6 feet tall, small beard, glasses, skinny as a rake, with a totally seductive Radio 3 voice, and an evil sense of humour, which is extremely irreverent at times. Especially when he wants to wind up the congregation during his sermons. Cambridge graduate, expert in Egyptology, has been playing the piano for longer than he cares to remember, heavily involved in all sorts of music and especially the Sullivan Society (as in Gilbert and).

His mum died a couple of years ago - his Dad is a very chipper 85, a wonderful old sentimentalist called Ben, who still lives in the house where Selwyn was brought up on Canvey Island. Ben was a postman (as was my Dad, before he retired), but before that, Ben was "on the halls" with his family, so is full of stories about those days. He met his wife, Norma, when they were in Palestine during the war, and they were completely besotted with each other throughout their marriage. It's easy to see why Selwyn's so sentimental!

So what else have I been doing? Well, Siddons is back into full swing - this year it's Sleeping Beauty, subtitled The Prince with the Dormant Donga - I don't need to say any more, really! My character is Zara, Queen of the Zonkers, who gives the prince the elixir to restore his manhood ("Here, drink long and hard - and that's what it will become...)

I also greatly enjoyed playing Velma in Kander & Ebb's Chicago - a wonderful show - back at the end of October. I always did like making a lot of noise! All That Jazz, I Am My Own Best Friend, Nowadays... one of my favourite roles ever.

Selwyn and I spent a great two weeks in Wales in the Summer - one week in Pembrokeshire, the other in Llangollen. Weather typically Welsh, but a wonderful break. We're going to the Lake District for a few days immediately after the wedding, but I've got to be back on stage the following Saturday!, so we're taking a proper honeymoon for 3/4 weeks in July/August - hopefully involving a couple of weeks in Florence. I've never been treated so well! And no, priests don't have much money - we've both got tripe-and-onions bank accounts and champagne tastes!

I'll be renting out this flat, rather than selling it - obviously Selwyn doesn't own anywhere, so it's a little bit of security for us both - and moving into the Rectory, which is a five-year-old, huge four-bedroomed place - one heck of a Wendy-house to play with.

We've got four months (at the day of writing this) to get our acts together... incredible. It won't be a very restful time - as he pointed out, some bridegrooms get a stag night - he gets Holy Week!

Our diaries for last year have been full of theatre visits, both amateur and professional - The Sisters Rosensweig at the Vic, As You Like It at Cannizaro Park, Wimbledon, Let's Do It (the music of Porter & Coward) and The Schoolmistress at Chichester; and locally, Private Lives, The Cocktail Party and Noises Off.

And next year? We'll just have to wait and see. We're both incredibly happy, and feel that we've waited an awfully long time for all of this - which is why the wedding is happening so soon.

I hope that you've had a great 1994, and that 1995 is all you could wish.

Health and happiness!

With our love -

Selwyn & Cassie