Crazier than Christmas: Living our lives to the full

Introducing the best possible version of theatre director Helen Tennison (photo: Hasse Ferrold)
May 8th, 2022 5:07 am| by Vivienne McKee
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One of the many terrific things about running an English-language theatre in Denmark for 40 years is that many actors and directors have come to work with me, and it is fascinating  to see the city and its culture through their eyes . 

Right now I am performing the one-woman play ‘Shirley Valentine’ at the Sorte Hest Theatre in Vesterbro, and my director, Helen Tennison, is a big fan of everything Danish.  I asked her why …

A walker’s paradise
“Copenhagen has been my favourite city since I first performed in the Crazy Christmas over 20 years ago. It’s fabulous to experience Danish ‘hygge’ again. At the lovely Sorte Hest theatre we start our rehearsals with coffee and pastries and candles are lit even in the morning! This would be unheard of in England, where candles are mainly used for power cuts. The Danes know how to make life cosy!

Helen has observed quite a few changes since she was here 20 years ago: most particularly in terms of getting about. “There’s been a lot of development since I was last here: particularly down beyond Nyhavn, which is a beautiful place to hang out now,” she notes.

“I love walking, and Copenhagen is a walker’s paradise. Having spent a lot of time in Florida, where there is a distinct lack of pavements, I really appreciate the ability to walk around and soak up the city atmosphere. It’s a small city and safe too, as long as you don’t get knocked over by the hordes of Vikings on bikes. In London, biking is something you do to be sporty at weekends, wearing lycra.  Here it’s just another way of getting around. Talking of which, the Metro is a big change in the city. The driver-less trains are really clean and it’s so easy to get everywhere now.”

Where I can be a better ‘Me’
Is it still the same ‘party city’ that you remember, I ask 

“London Toast Theatre and Copenhagen were both a huge part of my youth. We had a lot of fun back then and I’ve walked past a few bars now that I remember – or perhaps that I should forget!” she recalls with questionable clarity.

“I am not so much a party girl now, and nowadays my Danish friends invite me to their homes. I appreciate this, as eating out is still as expensive as ever!  In many ways Copenhagen is to me what Greece is to Shirley Valentine – a beautiful place where I feel like I can be a better version of myself.”

Succeeding like Shirley
That sounds like a cue to lure you back to work with me again in Copenhagen!

“Yes please! It’s incredible that so many of the same people are still working with you, Vivienne. You have creative collaborations that have been nurtured over decades. Some of your English actors have stayed here, learned Danish and changed their lives. It’s inspiring what you have built up,” she enthuses. 

“‘Shirley Valentine’ is the perfect play to celebrate this – it’s all about living your best life. It’s very easy to compromise as we get older: to give up on parts of ourselves. Shirley encourages us to live our lives to the fullest – to go for it. And what better place to do that than here – in wonderful Copenhagen.”

Vivienne McKee


Vivienne McKee, Denmark’s best-known English entertainer, is this country’s most beloved foreign import. For the last four decades, hundreds of thousands of Copenhageners have enjoyed her annual Crazy Christmas Cabaret show at Tivoli, marvelling at her unique, wry Anglo wit and charm.

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