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I’ll drink to that Sharnbrook Mill Theatre Trust Company

IN THIS ISSUE > Whitley Bay at 50 > Interview with Amy Anzel > 100 plays for women > Playscript reviews


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contents | amateurstage Editor: Julian Cound

>contents Contributors David Muncaster, Robin Lambert, Nick Smurthwaite

December 2013

Design Capacity Arts Marketing Published monthly by 3Fold Media Limited ISSN 00026867 3rd Floor, 207 Regent Street, London W1B 3HH Subscribe now


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Amateur theatre is a very close-knit

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comes to audition days. Those who are unsuccessful may feel that the ‘usual few’ or the ‘in-crowd’ have been given the leads...again!

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It is our aim in any amateur group to nurture and develop new talent, but

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16 News from across the country

it is also our duty to give the paying audience the best possible theatre

11 Square One

experience - especially in these hard

Setting up a new group in Scunthorpe

times, or else we may lose them as a valued customer. Can we afford to have the “give so-and-so the part because she deserves a go” mentality when it comes to auditions, or do we give the

16 Amy Anzel interview Amy talks about funding, auditions and Happy Days

part to the person most suited - even if she has played the lead in the last two shows? Many people, in life in general not just amateur theatre, often look for Cover Image: Sharnbrook Mill Theatre Trust Company

18 Spotlight on choreography Helen Vendersteen on working with a new group

external reasons why they were unsuccessful. It is much harder to self reflect, take a step back and see where our own weaknesses lie. But until you can do that, you are never

28 28 The musical produced Sharnbrook Mill tell us about Company

David Muncaster reviews the latest script releases

34 Panto fifty years on

45 Production Diary

Whitley Bay Pantomime Society

What’s on offer throughout the UK

20 Transform the space

50 My Top 5

Getting a quart out of a pint pot

Stephen Beeny from JemmThree chooses his top five musicals

going to improve. All rights reserved throughout the world. No part of this magazine may be reproduced, stored or transmitted in any form or by any means, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the written consent of Amateur Stage. The views and opinions expressed by the contributors to this magazine may not necessarily represent the views of Amateur Stage. ©2013 3Fold Media


23 Setting the scene York Light Youth on their recent Joseph

38 Playscripts

50 | 3

amateurstage | overture


news | events | products | competitions

Get Into London Theatres

Get set for unchained delight Theatrical Rights Worldwide have announced the Amateur Release in the UK of “Ghost - The Musical”. Ghost is a timeless fantasy about the power of love. Walking back to their apartment one night, Sam and Molly are mugged, leaving Sam murdered on a dark street. Sam is trapped as a ghost between this world and the next and unable to leave Molly who he learns is in grave danger. With the help of a phony storefront psychic, Oda Mae Brown, Sam tries to communicate with Molly in the hope of saving and protecting her.

Adapted from the hit film by its Academy Awardwinning screenwriter, Bruce Joel Rubin, Ghost The Musical was nominated for 3 Tony Awards and 5 Olivier Awards. Following it’s successful stint in the West End, the current UK tour has been filling theatres all over the country but is due to come to an end in Oxford in March 2014. UK amateur groups are able to apply for the rights now to perform Ghost from the summer of 2014. TRW head of licensing, Jim Hoar, said “Following the brilliant response we got from the recent release of The Addams Family, Ghost seemed the natural choice for us to present to UK amateur groups who I am sure will see this as another fabulous opportunity to present a new, challenging, blockbuster show.” Julian Cound, editor of Amateur Stage Magazine said “Once again TRW are leading the field in releasing the kind of shows UK amateur musical theatre groups are crying out for.”

Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Film of 1990, Ghost won numerous awards worldwide and is one of the biggest grossing films in the UK. It starred Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, Tony Goldwyn and Whoopi Goldberg and was directed by Jerry Zucker. Bruce Joel Rubin’s script won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay and Whoopi Goldberg won the Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. The film’s iconic love scene at a potter’s wheel was famously performed to The Righteous Brother’s Unchained Melody.

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You can apply for the performing rights to Ghost on the TRW website:

This annual new year, discount tickets promotion - organised by the Society of London Theatre - is now in its 13th year Get into London Theatre, returns in January 2014, discount tickets to over 50 productions went on sale on December 10th care of Get Into London Theatre’s new ticketing partner, The Ticket Factory. Organised by industry body the Society of London Theatre (SOLT), Get into London Theatre is now in its 13th year and runs from 1 January to 13 February 2014. London mayor Boris Johnson commented: “Get Into London Theatre is a fantastic opportunity to get your hands on some great value tickets and experience why our theatre is the envy of the world. It’ll be a fabulous curtain raiser for 2014.” Tickets are discounted to £10, £15, £25, £35 or £40, with no booking or postage fees. West End musicals taking part in 2014 include Jersey Boys, Mamma Mia!, Stephen Ward, The Commitments, The Lion King and From Here To Eternity. The promotion extends beyond the West End to numerous venues across the capital, including the Old Vic, New Wimbledon, Sadler’s Wells and the Barbican.

overture | amateurstage

“After a three-show day, when you have no voice, your body is weak and you feel like death - remember you are living the dream, dear” @westendproducer

Douglas sponsorship coup Preparations are well under way for the rock opera Tommy by Douglas Choral Union and the entire production is being sponsored by private companies. SMP Partners is sponsoring the Tommy Band, the rock musicians who will perform the music at the Gaiety Theatre. SMP, a corporate and trust service provider, funds administrator and an accounting and tax firm, joins headline sponsor law firm Dougherty Quinn.

Final farewell to the Baroness Eleanor Parker, who was nominated for Academy Awards three times for her portrayals of strongwilled women and played the scheming Baroness in The Sound of Music, has died aged 91. Family friend Richard Gale said Parker died following complications from pneumonia. “She passed away peacefully, surrounded by her children at a medical facility near her home in Palm Springs,” Gale added. Parker was nominated for Oscars in 1950, 1951 and 1955, but then saw her career begin to wane in the early 1960s. Her last memorable role came in The Sound of Music, in which she played the Baroness who loses Christopher Plummer to Julie Andrews. “Eleanor Parker was and is one of the most beautiful ladies I have ever known,” said Plummer in a statement. “Both as a person and as a beauty. I hardly believe the sad news for I was sure she was enchanted and would live forever.” Parker worked only infrequently after that, appearing in films and on such TV series as Fantasy Island, Murder, She Wrote and The Love Boat. She also starred in the short-lived 1960s TV series Bracken’s World. “I’m primarily a character actress,” she said in a 1988 interview, explaining why she never achieved the stardom of so many of her co-stars. “I’ve portrayed so many diverse individuals on the screen that my own personality never emerged.”

SMP Managing Director Mark Denton said: ‘It promises to be a highly entertaining show, but also an opportunity for the island community to enjoy a fantastic production and a wonderful chance for all those involved, on stage and behind the scenes,

Opportunity in the Midlands Playwrights from the East Midlands have the chance to win £1,000 and a year of support and mentoring from theatre professionals as part of a new scheme set up by Leicester’s Curve. The Curve Playwriting Competition is a partnership between IdeasTap, Writing East Midlands and the BBC Writersroom, and is aimed at uncovering new talent from the region. Playwrights from the area are able to enter the competition, with five shortlisted productions being selected in February. Each will receive feedback and guidance and extracts from the shows will be presented in April as part of Inside Out, Curve’s first festival celebrating the region’s talent.

to gain experience, learn new skills and show their talents. ‘Bringing such a powerful and well-known musical to the stage will be a real challenge, but one I know DCU will relish, and I am very pleased SMP Partners is able to help.’ DCU chairman Nick Cain said: ‘Tommy will represent a rare chance for local audiences to catch a fully blown rock opera at the Gaiety Theatre. It is a hugely exciting and ambitious production – one I firmly believe will wow our audience with its awesome power, musical invention and colour.’ DCU’s Tommy runs from January 31 to February 8 at the Gaiety Theatre.

Apollo Theatre in New York. As a theatre, we’re committed to not only celebrating the world-class talent we already have in the region, but also nurturing the best acting, writing and performance talent bubbling up, and it’s thrilling to offer the artists of tomorrow a platform to showcase their work.” To enter the playwriting competition, entrants must have had at least one – but no more than three – full length plays produced.

Inside Out will take place over 10 days and will feature performances, workshops and events to showcase the area’s “leading theatre makers, performers and writers”. The festival’s curator, Suba Das, said: “We’re delighted to be presenting our inaugural Inside Out Festival championing the work of the region’s artists. Whilst we may not have won City of Culture in name, Leicester, Leicestershire and the whole of the East Midland’s is a hub for the country’s creativity, which we’ve already seen this year with our associate artists working at the National Theatre, the Royal Opera House and the | 5

amateurstage | feature

> dressing up for the occasion

Being a costumier does not happen over-night, Kerry Jackman from Bournemouth Shakespeare Players tells Amateur Stage about her theatrical journey. I have been Wardrobe Mistress, Costume Designer and Maker for Bournemouth Shakespeare Players for over 8 years. I met BSP through my husband who had acted with them for years before we dated. I was lucky enough to be cast as Miranda against his Ferdinand in The Tempest. We did not have a dedicated Wardrobe Mistress.

sourcing, designing and making for a wide range of productions. I started to get quite busy and found that the next step would be to find funding for business premises and take on a someone to become my ‘right-hand’. One friend that graduated with me came to mind as a perfect candidate. Helen was a close friend during my time at university. She was an excellent maker and in my opinion her embroidery skills are second to none. After leaving university she had returned to her families hotel and whilst wanting to move back to Bournemouth and continue her career in costume she was finding it difficult to leave her family without first securing work. After a social visit I decided to offer her a partnership in my hire business and a room until things really take off and she can afford to find her own place.

BSP had a large stock of costumes, most of which was purchased from The RSC and The Royal Opera. Anything else was made by anyone who offered at the time. As I had always loved making my own clothes and had reasonable sewing skills, I offered to make my own costume. This is where my journey into costume really began. Our Chairman was so impressed with my creation that they offered to take me to The RSC next time they went to hire anything and asked me to take charge of their wardrobe. I was currently working full time in a book-keeping and accountancy firm. Whilst I was skilled in this area, I lacked any real passion for it. It was just a job to pay the bills. My next costume role with BSP was costuming Twelfth Night. I was taken to The RSC hire department in Stratford and instantly became a child in a sweet store! I was in awe of my surroundings. Rails of costume over several floors, photos with all my favourite Shakesperian actors dressed the walls of the office. It was commented on by our treasurer that I was like a magpie flying from one shiny to the next! This started the cogs in my mind whirring. I knew BSP had thousands of costumes that would sit in trunks throughout the year until possibly being used for their annual production. I suggested we should sort them all and hire them out to fund the making of new costume each production. Later the next year I was made redundant. A few months previous, my husband was made redundant. He decided that he wanted a more fullfilling and stable career and enrolled in college on some A-Level equivalent course with the mind to move onto university to do a history degree and then a teaching course to become a history teacher. Combining his passion for history with a rewarding career. A couple of weeks later, over coffee, at Kevin’s home, I was shocked to be presented with an idea that would completely change my world. Kevin suggested I should look into costume courses

6 |

as the local university and pursue my own ideal career. So I did. I enrolled at The Arts University College Bournemouth on their Costume and Performance Design honors degree. During my time there I continued costuming BSP’s productions and sometimes would tread the boards too. After a committee meeting it was decided that their entire stock of costume would be donated to me to use as I wished as a thank-you for my continued support, designing, making and looking after running wardrobe each year. I started building clients and contacts for my services whilst studying and became permanently in charge of Wardrobe for Ferndown Drama Group as well as BSP. After fantastic press reviews naming me personally and my ‘superb’ costumes for Ferndown’s production of Ring Round The Moon, they too decided to donate their entire stock of costume to my business. This was the start of BSP Wardrobe Hire. I finished my degree with Honors and turned to my business fulltime, Whilst remaining Wardrobe Mistress for both BSP and FDG. Since graduating, I have worked for several major projects, and worked on a variety of shows and short films. I am now regularly involved with several additional Amateur Theatre Groups, hiring costume,

Helen moved in with us in September and since then our business has began to flourish. We anticipate having full business premises within the next few months. The productions we costume are constantly getting great reviews for costume and we work hard to ensure our good reputation is increasing daily and never tarnished. Together, Helen and I make the dream team for costuming. Our stock is increasing daily and so is our client base. Our ambition is high. Eventually our costume empire will be known world-wide. But for now, we are happy to be the main stop in Dorset and the south of England for costume hire and custom costume creation! If you have any costume needs we can be found at


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amateurstage | feature


move north

It’s fun, it’s friendly, it’s for all the family and it’s moving to Harrogate - Saturday 2nd August to Wednesday 27th August 2014

Next summer the 21st International Gilbert & Sullivan Festival will move lock, stock and barrel to the magnificent Royal Hall and the charming Harrogate Theatre. Visitors to the beautiful North Yorkshire spa town will be able to enjoy the wit and magic of the Gilbert & Sullivan operas performed by the country’s leading exponents of these quintessentially British masterpieces. The organisers have put together a truly spectacular programme for 2014. More than 35 full-scale performances will be staged in the Royal Hall with another 20+ scheduled for Harrogate Theatre. America’s finest professional G&S performing company, The New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players will bring The Yeomen of the Guard and The Pirates of Penzance. The Festival’s own professional Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Company will perform alltime favourites The Mikado, Iolanthe, HMS Pinafore and The Pirates of Penzance and a there are a host of leading British and International groups competing for the Festival’s International Champion’s Trophy. There are a number of outdoor events already scheduled including a rousing “Best of British” concert at Newby Hall, a “Scratch Pirates of Penzance” in nearby Fountains Abbey, a Sullivan Spectacular in Ripon Cathedral, a G&S Golf Tournament at nearby Rudding Park and much much more. The second UNIFest competition will take place in Harrogate Theatre and already ten leading British Universities have confirmed they will bring a full-scale Gilbert & Sullivan opera to the town. You simply couldn’t find anything, anywhere in the world to match the International Gilbert & Sullivan Festival for its sheer exuberance, warmth and wonderful welcome.

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feature | amateurstage

>square one

off to a flying start

A new company has launched itself on to the theatre scene in North Lincolnshire. Two stalwarts of Scunthorpe theatre have joined forces with a newly located Londoner to create Square One Productions Theatre Company. The husband and wife partnership of Andy and Nikki Pontin have become a creative team with the NODA award-winning talents of Ali Newell who now lives in Appleby. The three met and came together because of their shared passion to create genuinely good theatre. Nikki, 31, says, ‘Square One are looking to go back to basics and give new talent the chance to flourish, hence our title. We hope to fill a niche in the local market to produce exciting new works from talented new writers, alongside quality established shows. We’d like to build a positive reputation based on stripping back theatre to the most interesting and original writing performed at the highest level by the best of local talent to attract our audience.’

Nikki, Andy and Ali’s combined theatre experience adds up to more than 70 years. Andy has performed as a Hospital Players’ lead actor for 14 years, Nikki has been involved in theatre since the age of four and most recently directed performances of ‘A Kick In The Baubles’ and ‘Talking Heads’ and Ali is no stranger to the process having previously co-founded the successful New Penny Theatre Group in Buckinghamshire. She performed with many and various companies around the Home Counties and has been awarded Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress by NODA. Aquare One Productions is launching itself true to its mission statement with a completely new and

original production written by Nikki Pontin herself; ‘2 Glasses & A Bottle of Red’ ‘52 year old Penny is perfectly happy being alone, despite her divorced daughter Emma’s best attempts to hook her up with everybody from Bill the Postman, to Phil, the Stock Replenishment Officer from Tesco’s. However Penny is hiding a big secret……. ‘2 Glasses & A Bottle of Red’ is a compelling, funny and poignant portrayal of one woman balancing her past with her future. From running over her first love with her car to her encounter with Nursezilla, life is never simple for Penny. A rollercoaster of emotions from start to finish, ‘2 Glasses & A Bottle of Red’ holds a mirror up to life and will make the audience laugh and cry in a single breath. A compelling piece of storytelling

from Square OneProductions. The show calls upon Ali and Andy’s acting credentials as they take on the roles of Penny McBride and Nick Jones, respectively. Square One is delighted to introduce the multi-talented local performer Sarah Hall who has been cast as Penny’s daughter, Emma Wright. Nikki is also directing her play; “I used to love being on the stage, but now I’ve moved behind the scenes I find myself wanting to take an idea and see how far I can develop it. I love to write and I love character driven plays that the audience can connect and relate to. That’s what we’ve tried to create for our first show and it’s really exciting to be involved.”

Square One Productions are now accepting CVs from performers to put on their books for the next show in Autumn 2014. Everyone is welcome from novice up. If you are a budding writer and have an original, small cast, minimal set play or adaptable story, then Square One would love to hear from you, too. “We believe in giving people their first chance, because you never know when you may discover a ‘diamond in the rough.’ For more information please see their website or drop an e-mail to You can also find them on Facebook ‘Square One Productions - Theatre Company or Twitter @ sqonetheatre.

‘2 Glasses & A Bottle of Red‘ is touring a number of venues across Lincolnshire in Spring 2014. At time of writing they can announce that confirmed dates are; Scawby Village Hall on Fri 4th April, Broadbent Theatre, Wickenby on Sat 5th April, Kirton-in-Lindsey Town Hall on Sat 12th April, Trinity Arts Centre, Gainsborough on Sat 19th April and Lincoln Drill Hall on Sat 26th April. Square One Productions would be delighted to see you there. Images courtesy of Guy Hageman Photography | 11

amateurstage | feature

>the tills are alive...

Even in a deep recession, theatre is keeping it’s head above water... it’s just much harder to get those bums on seats, so take a leaf out of the pro book. This month saw the arrival of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 15th musical to premiere in London’s West End when Stephen Ward began it’s run at the Aldwych Theatre. With an estimated personal wealth of about £620million Lord Lloyd-Webber’s 1986 musical The Phantom Of The Opera is the most successful piece of entertainment of all time produced in any media with a worldwide total box-office gross revenue of £3.5billion. That is even higher than blockbuster films Titanic, ET and Star Wars. So he has given himself a tough act to follow. Phantom has also been produced in more than 150 cities in 30 countries and since 1986 has held the record for the longest-running musical of all time on Broadway where it continues to run. Lord Lloyd-Webber presides over a property empire that includes some of the best addresses in town including the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane and the London Palladium. With his co-producer on Cats and Phantom Of The Opera - Sir Cameron Mackintosh - they have made much of the West End their own. Sir Cameron’s production of Les Miserables, co-produced originally with the RSC, is also a global phenomenon with last year’s film version starring Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe so far earning more than £270million since its release in the US last December and in the UK in January. Next May Sir Cameron is bringing back Miss Saigon to the West End, the show he created with Les Mis writers Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg 24 years ago. The day tickets went on sale for it in September they sold £4.4million worth - the highest for any musical ever. Last year saw nearly 14million people attend West End shows - nearly eight million of whom saw musicals. Total box-office revenue in the West End last year was nearly £530million, of which those seeing musicals spent more than £320million. This year is looking even stronger with new arrivals from Broadway such as The Book Of Mormon doing record business at the Prince of Wales Theatre with ticket prices that go up to £152 each, while Once has also transferred from New York to the West End and Sam Mendes’s spectacular stage version of Charlie And The Chocolate Factory

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crowd fundingthe way forward? A crowdfunding campaign for new musical Happy Days has met its £250,000 target, in what its producer claims is a first for a commercial theatre production. The initiative to raise the money - hosted on funding platform Seedrs - was launched in October this year, with the £250,000 target being reached by December 2.

opened at Drury Lane. And 2014 has already got I Won’t Sing! - a musical based on The X Factor that has been co-created by comedian Harry Hill and co-produced by Simon Cowell, lined up to arrive at the London Palladium in February. Outside London musicals are also big business with shows such as Wicked (also still running in London), Singin’ In The Rain, Ghost, Evita, West Side Story and Blood Brothers dominating the billboards. But success in musicals is never guaranteed. They are not an instant cash cow and last week it was revealed that Sir Tim Rice’s lavish musical From Here To Eternity, which opened at the West End’s Shaftesbury Theatre just last month, will be closing in April and be replaced by Broadway classic The Pajama Game. The public’s appetite for musicals has never been greater and Channel 4 is in the midst of screening The Sound Of Musicals, a series that has gone behind the scenes of shows that include a new musical based on the US TV series Happy Days that launches a national tour in January. While news of the worldwide economy may make depressing reading it’s always happy days in the world of musical theatre. People want cheering up more than ever. As critic Charles Spencer wrote in 2008: “We may not be able to afford a new kitchen or an expensive holiday but most of us can just about run to an evening in the stalls and perhaps even a modest meal out afterwards.” My hunch is that theatre won’t just survive the recession it will actually help us to endure it by offering that special sense of community of a theatre audience and a temporary escape into other worlds and other lives.

Producer Amy Anzel (see interview on page 16) said 345 investors put money into the show through the initiative. Investors are being offered a 25% share of any profits and the overall budget for the production is £600,000. Anzel said: “I am thrilled to say that our Happy Days campaign on Seedrs has now fully funded. It is extremely exciting to have been the first commercial theatrical production to have done so successfully. We knew that there were many Happy Days fans out there who would probably love the chance to become involved in the production, so we gave people the opportunity to invest in the show via Seedrs and in just six weeks, 345 investors came on board and together invested £250,000. We look forward to sharing our journey with our new investors.”

lighting feature | amateurstage

>lighting states Robin Lambert continues his series on Lighting Design with an insight into creating a realistic moonlight scenes. One of the skills of a lighting director is to turn a mediocre set with plastic shrubbery and a dodgy backcloth into a realistic location. As well as being a challenge, it’s fun and very rewarding, nothing more so than a night scenario. There’s always someone who will stand at the back of the hall and loudly proclaim “Moonlight’s not really blue you know”. Point them in my direction and within an hour I’ll have them screaming “I give in! Moonlight’s whatever colour you say it is!”. Right let get the science over with. Moonlight is sunlight reflected form the light grey surface of the moon. So it’s white. Simple, we don’t need to know exactly what white, or if it’s a paler shade of white because what we see is something completely different. Are you sitting comfortably? Well, I’ll begin then. It all starts with a bloke called Perkinje who was on his way home in the early hours of the morning after a night of debauchery when he noticed that the blue flowers in his garden seemed brighter than the red. Immediately he sounds like a lighting guy but, instead of blaming it on something he smoked, he did a bit of scientific stuff and discovered that in low light conditions our eyes are more sensitive to blue light than to red. In other words, when there’s very little light around, we see it as being slightly blue. So, although moonlight is, strictly speaking, grey, we see it as being on the blue side. To make matters even more convincing, up until a few years ago most artificial light was reddish. Candles, oil, gas and tungsten are all towards the red end of the spectrum so any moonlight seen at the same time looked blue in comparison. So when Mr. Know-itall states that moonlight isn’t blue, just explain that we see it as blue, which is all that matters. Which blue though? Have a look at your Lee Swatch (remember, I told you how to get a free one from and you will see dozens of different blues. The skill is in selecting the right “moonlight blue” for your scene. Strange as it may seem to those who live in the real world but there are fashions in moonlight, especially in movies and television (welcome to my world, step inside it’s a nightmare!) where moonlight changes colour regularly. At the moment it’s a blue-green colour, around LEE 116 for the swatchers amongst you. On stage this looks convincing but very cold and uninviting. Fine for Dracula, not good for a rom-com kissing scene.

The previous generation of movie moonlight was an almost colourless CTB blue which was cold and neutral. On stage a 202 half blue gives a crisp moonlight providing it’s not dimmed too much. Very good for naturalistic moonlight coming through windows and it doesn’t affect skin tones too much if an actor walks through it.

give the impression that there’s a fire engine parked nearby. Also remember that we only have one moon, so moonlight beaming through windows stage left AND stage right will look a bit strange. The audience might not realise it at first but at some point they will and will take great delight in pointing it out to anyone nearby.

In the last century (wow, as a kid I never thought I’d be saying that phrase) moonlight, tended to be a lavender colour. I’ve discussed lavenders last month and I’m sure you read, digested and learnt it by heart so I won’t repeat myself except to say that a Lee 137 lavender is a nice romantic moonlight which works nicely on skin tones. Or, if you did what I suggested and got a roll of 702 special lavender, then add a sheet of half blue 202 and voila (no, it’s not a musical instrument) you have a luverly warm moonlight.

Moonlight looks better coming from the rear. So, in a moonlit scene, have the moonlight as a backlight rather than as your key. Especially if you have a full moon gobo (you were paying attention last month weren’t you?) on the backcloth. Moonlight should also be crisp. The moon is a point light source after all, and always comes from above head height.

Back in the sixties and seventies moonlight was an electric blue. Still seen in some amdrams. Be very careful when emulating moonlight and remember subtle is better. Avoid “flickering” moonlight. You don’t want to draw attention to the effect and having a strong blue shimmering moonlight might

So, when that annoying person (usually the director) tries to tell you that moonlight isn’t really blue, just tell him that it may not “be” blue in real life but it looks blue, which is why your stage moonlight is blue. Next month we’ll have a look at sunlight. I don’t know if you remember it but it usually makes an appearance for a few days in August, just before the floods start. | 13

amateurstage | feature

>full house Bromley Little Theatre presents Samuel Adamson’s thrilling translation of the most re-mastered play in history The Dolls House, a perfect plot, passionate, pertinent and sexually thrilling. Samuel Adamson’s adaptation of Ibsen’s classic drama clearly resonates with modern day audiences. It’s going to be the perfect Christmas for Nora and her family until, over three long days, ‘the dolls house’ is torn apart as secrets and lies erupt to the surface. Harsh truth challenges the ghosts of the past making it impossible for anything to ever be the same again. An emotive interpretation from script to stage - highly sexed, humourous, perceptively theatrical. The world’s most performed play, A Doll’s House, by Henrik Ibsen, who is the world’s most frequently performed dramatist, after Shakespeare, was recently performed at Bromley Little Theatre. Now heading for The London Theatre, Samuel Adamson’s adaptation, which was commissioned by Southwark Playhouse ten years ago, illustrates the issues of Nineteenth Century morals, female suppression, love, betrayal, scandal and the search for one’s identity in an accessible, modern style. Laura Kenward who plays the role of Nora recently took time out to answer a few questions about the play and her role. Written in 1879, what do you think is the key to the play’s longevity? The themes of the play still resonate with modern audiences as they cover – love, money, sex, deception and betrayal – issues which are played

out again and again in modern day relationships. Ibsen is also a master of the excellent ‘plot’ – it moves along briskly, gripping the audience and keeping them guessing until the end. What do you enjoy most about playing the role of Nora? The challenge of a role that requires great emotional depth and the ability to say one thing whilst feeling another. Every line matters, none of the script is wasted and there are so many ways of delivering the lines and discovering the many aspects of Nora’s personality as she interacts with the other characters in the play. What is the play’s underlying message to the audience? Relationships are not always what they seem. How well do we really know the people to whom we are closest and how do we discover our own real identity so that we live full and meaningful lives. Why should everyone get along to see this adaptation of the play? It is a classic play, by a superb writer, thrillingly adapted by Samuel Adamson. It is thoughtprovoking, moving, it makes you laugh and cry, contains highly engaging performances from a talented cast - in all ‘a good night out’. Tues 21st Jan to Sun 26th Jan 8pm (Sunday 5pm) £12.50 - tickets can be purchased online:

brewhouse to re-open Taunton’s Brewhouse Theatre is set to reopen in April next year following a year of being dark. The venue went into administration in February, with Taunton Deane Borough Council later buying the 61-year lease of the theatre from administrators BDO. It has now awarded the contract to run the venue to Taunton Theatre Association Ltd. This is a not-for-profit company which was set up following the theatre’s closure and which has been working towards reopening the venue. In a statement, TTA said: “The fine details of the agreement are to be negotiated but planning begins immediately to bring the theatre back to life on a permanent basis. The anticipated opening of the doors is April, 2014.” It added: “TTA thanks all those organisations and individuals who have supported them over the past nine months, making this truly a community venture. We are especially pleased that a number of performers and performing companies have been in touch to say they want to return to the Brewhouse.” The unified proposal from the groups, now known as The Association, includes plans for a paid workforce consisting of a core of professionals such as an artistic director, finance director and technical staff, and volunteers. This set-up would be similar to how the theatre was run when it opened in 1977. The programme would comprise mainly of professional shows with some amateur productions and the organisation would look to rename the theatre. Long-term plans include expanding the 352-seat theatre to attract top touring companies and creating a wider music programme. The council has agreed to continue to provide its annual subsidy of £152,000 to the theatre if the new operator can produce a viable business plan.

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“...had us in hysterics from the offset... your panto script was one of the most inspiring we have come across. Out of 10 - definitely 10. We were so pleased with the direction, song suggestions... it just flowed so well.” St Bernadette's Players Read our scripts and purchase rights online at

Pantomimes and Comedy Scripts

creative Some of our titles: Cinderella Puss in Boots Babes in the Wood Jack & the Beanstalk Aladdin Dick Whittington Goldilocks Knight Fever! Mother Goose

and many more...

Picture from Dick Whittington MKTOC, 2012/13

Quality backing tracks for many of our titles and others available from

Martyn Knight Director / Choreographer Martyn’s name is synonymous with large scale, lavish producƟons but he is equally at home with smaller, more inƟmate shows. Having been a professional performer in London’s West End, Martyn’s work as a director extends the length and breadth of the country - from DarlingtonOS to The Portsmouth Players, York Light Opera to Cassio OperaƟc Society. 42nd Street, A Chorus Line, Annie, Anything Goes, Copacabana, Fiddler On The Roof, Gigi, Grease, Guys and Dolls, Hello Dolly, Mack & Mabel, The Hot Mikado, Oliver, The Producers, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Sweet Charity, Titanic, West Side Story, Witches of Eastwick

interview | amateurstage

> happy days for amy

Until a few short weeks ago very few people will have even heard of Amy Anzel. Now, thanks to the three-part series on Channel 4 - The Sound of Musicals, everyone who is anyone in musical theatre has an opinion of her. Julian Cound spoke to her recently to find out what makes her click. “I started out in Community Theatre over in the States - that the equivalent of amateur theatre over here. This kind of start as a performer is invaluable, you learn so much. A whole load of people now in the profession started out in amateur theatre and it’s just the best way to learn and you make lifelong friends too.” “As a performer I was fortunate to get involved in the original developmental workshops for ‘Happy Days’ some ten years ago. The show never really developed at that time. But I could see the potential with the popularity of 1950s Americana over here in the UK. You have Grease, Hairspray and The Jersey Boys so I thought ‘Happy Days’ would fit in so well.” Speaking to Amy you get taste of the drive and passion she has for a project. In a world where it’s easier to say “I can’t do that” Amy seems to have the mantra of “I’m going to do that if it’s the last thing I do.” “Yes, there are a lot of nay-sayers in this industry, but if you believe in a project so much then it has to deserve your complete dedication and drive, otherwose what is the point?” “I love this show and I know UK audiences are going to love it too - that is why I have spent all my time and energy to give it a life on the stage.”

“Craig’s involvement made for some great TV but unfortunately - for many various reasons, things did not work out, but I now have the fabulous director / choreographer Andrew Wright (Barnum, Singin’ In The Rain, Betty Blue Eyes) at the helm and I couldn’t be happier.” In the documentary we saw Amy hold open auditions for her cast. “That was a conscious decision on my part. Over in the States there are regular open calls for Broadway shows which gives anyone with the passion and drive the chance to have a go. Here in the UK it seems so much more of a closed-shop - you sometimes only get to hear about auditions after they have happened. I wanted to see new, raw talent from all over the UK - you never know who you may pick up.” “With Ben (Freeman), Heidi (Range) and Cheryl (Baker) we have three fabulous leads, but we also have cast members making their professional debut in the show including Scott Waugh playing Richie Cunningham.” Amy has put a huge amount of her life - and her money, into the show but she is also the first major producer to use Crowdfunding as a means of

raising the necessary capitol to put the show on. “Crowdfunding works for me in so many ways. Firstly it raises the much needed funds - we have raised over £250,000 through it, but also it creates a huge number of ‘ambassadors’ for the show throughout the UK who will help sell the show for you.” Crowdfunding allows any individual to put up money for the show for a percentage of the returns - but on a much smaller scale than theatre production investment. “Normally a West End show would ask individuals for investment of around £10,000, with Happy Days crowdfunding people can get involved for as little as £10. I now have nearly 400 investors nationwide who are talking about the show and eager to ensure it sells well.” Happy Days - A New Musical will debut at The Churchill Theatre in Bromley on January 14th, 2014 - previews starting on January 11th. The tour will run from January to July and Amy hopes to see it brought to the West End.

The recent Channel 4 documentary ‘The Sound of Musicals’ heavily showcased Amy in her drive to get people such as Henry Winkler - the original Fonz in the TV series, and Craig Revel-Horwood on-board. “Again it was my tenacity that got me involved. I heard that Channel 4 were creating the documentary so I contacted the producers and told them my story and it went from there. If you have something to say then you can not hold back, take every opportunity you have to get your message out there.” “Getting Henry (Winkler) on-board was just as it was shown in the documentary. I heard he was doing a book signing so Channel 4 contacted WH Smith to get clearance to film, I purchased a book and waited in line... the rest is TV history. What the documentary didn’t show, thankfully, was how much I was shaking with nerves.” | 17

amateurstage | feature

> choreography in the spotlight

Helen Vandersteen is about to embark on her first production as choreographer for Gillingham Dramatic Society, here she talks about the challenges that lie ahead. This is your first production with GDS

experiment with my choreography. ‘Just So’ was a

Without giving too much away have you any

Productions, what drew you to this production?

particularly quirky show to work on.

plans to add the productions that will make it

Yes this is the first time I’ve worked with GDS.

stand out?

When I heard that they were looking for a

What do you feel that you will be able to bring

I have some weird and wonderful ideas for the

choreographer I was excited to get on board as

to this production that will make the public

Witch and her minions, but the Dame’s entrance

I hadn’t choreographed for a panto before and

want to come and see it?

will definitely be one you will not want to miss!

had heard brilliant reviews from their previous

I like to think I am bubbly, enthusiastic and


possibly slightly mad, so I am hoping to bring all of

Jack & The Beanstalk

these qualities to the show. The high energy and

Brook Theatre Chatham February 20th-22nd\

What experience have you had in working with

enthusiastic routines are sure to have everyone

Box Office: 01634 338338

amateur and professional theatre groups?

bopping along by the end!

I have performed in many amateur theatre productions including Three Towns Theatre, Kentish Players and Airbrush Productions. Professionally, I have performed in pantomimes and I am a current member of The Show Performance Company. I have worked as Choreographer and Dance Captain for many local theatre companies, some of my credits include Summer Holiday, Just So and High School Musical. Do you feel the gap between amateur and professional theatre is close? I have seen and worked on a number of Am-Dram performances locally of such a high standard, they could easily have been produced by professional companies. What got you into choreography and is this your full time job? Currently I work as a freelance dancer, teacher and choreographer, however, choreography is one of my biggest passions as I love to be able to watch my creative ideas come to life. As a child I remember saying to my mum, “I don’t want to be the one on the stage, I want to be in the audience thinking ‘I created that’”. What is your biggest artistic/choreographic success and why? I’m very proud of all the productions I have been involved in so far, the ones that stand out for me most are those where I am able to really

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amateurstage | feature

> transforming the space

On a tiny budget, all you need is a little imagination and a lot of help to transform your local village hall into a performance space - Brenda Walker from Brent Amateur Dramatics explains how they did it. Take any village in the UK and you will usually

actors’ with ages ranging from 10 to 80. Then this

in the form of a new backcloth was planned, and

find a small village hall run by a committee and

autumn, as a direct result of involving a director

designs drawn up to create the large interior hall

used by groups ranging from Guides and Good

with professional experience, the audience

and staircase of an Elizabethan manor.

Companions to martial arts and dog training.

experienced a very different kind of theatre.

Some of these halls have a fixed stage with

The director, as part of the team, was able to help

curtains, while in others a stage has to be erected

The group’s initial thoughts were to have a National

in the restructuring of their initial ideas, develop

from rostra whenever the need arises. Anyone who

Trust house as their theme with sketches reflecting

their original attempts at writing into a complete

has been to watch a school play or a community

various periods in its history. They planned to

script and provide a rehearsal schedule that would

performance with or without such a stage will

include a ghost, treasure, tourists, a humorous

allow for steady progress towards a successful

appreciate the difficulties experienced by both

workmen’s scene and anything else that would

confident performance. During the twice weekly

audiences and players.

make an audience laugh. They had already part

rehearsals, the cast were constantly reminded that

completed very short texts about happenings at

there would be no need for a prompter or lines

A little experimentation and professional help can

a Nursing Home, squatters, a Victorian scene

written on props or cuffs of sleeves (as in past

transform this space:

with husband and wife quarrelling, a flirtation at a

productions), and that entrances from the four

Regency Ball, and a Puritan entering a Cavalier’s

exit and entrance points had to be snappy and

household where the owner was always drunk;

on time. One of the dangers of working in avenue

scenarios that would present a multitude of problems for a small proscenium stage! Under the guidance of the director, these initial sparks soon developed into fuller scripts with an interlinked action that flowed from start to finish, creating two parts that ran for forty-five minutes each separated by a twenty minute interval. Artistic talents emerged within the group and, inspired by Into this:

the discovery that they could still seat eighty in the hall even if sat facing each other, investment

Brent Knoll, near Burnham-on-Sea, is a typical Somerset village with a keen group of about seventeen players, (Brent Amateur Dramatics) who for years have got together simply to have fun, share ideas, write sketches or poems loosely based around a theme and perform them once a year to the local community. Considering themselves inexperienced, they have always affectionately labelled themselves ‘The BAD

20 |

from the hall’s speakers, but this was avoided

With a full and enthusiastic house on each of the

by using an MP3 player for the professionally

two nights, this is one small village hall group that

recorded sound track.

certainly intends to use avenue arena again. Such professional help can be expensive but there are

As the project progressed and the cast began to

local grants and trust funds set aside for some

network in the surrounding areas, new talent was

community projects, and it may be worth your

discovered such as a student taking a course in

while investigating to find what is available in your

special effects film make-up; ladies with flower

particular area. Remember though you may need

arranging talents; firms willing to donate or lend

to apply at least one year before your production

props, and among other things, an old house


with an antique metal chest that proved ideal for holding the ‘treasure’. However, despite difficulties of finding a suitably arena is masking, so those taking part needed to

large space for preparing the scenery, members

develop a new awareness to ensure the audience

of the group concentrated on their own ingenuity

did not see just their backs.

and practical talents. In the end, the backcloth had to be painted in a garage with odd tins of paint

Covering so many eras from the present day to

contributed by neighbours or friends. Photography

Elizabethan times called for many wigs and period

expertise came to the fore when ancestors were

costumes including a suit of armour, so on this

created to decorate the hall’s walls and one of the

occasion theatrical costumiers had to be used.

teenage members, skilled at carpentry, replaced

Professional skills were also needed for lighting

the old, well-used narrow set of steps with a

and sound, but with hired equipment and expert

specially designed wide pair with banisters. As

advice, worries of annoying glare in the eyes of the

enthusiasm engendered local interest, even more

audience proved unfounded. A free standing metal

talents emerged. Songs, music and dance routines

framework capable of being highered or lowered

were laced into the action with the help of a

was erected over the main doors to the hall, while

musical director and a talented pianist. While new

other lights were attached to the metal roof frames.

skills and disciplines were slowly being absorbed,

Special effects were used for lighting the ghost and

somewhere between the end of August and the

the use of a snow machine gave a magical ending.

start of November, Christmas at the Manor was

On previous occasions there had been feedback

born. | 21

amateurstage | feature

> funding from the bbc

The BBC Performing Arts Fund has awarded over £430,000 to 19 Fellows and 58 community theatre organisations. Funding has been distributed across the United Kingdom with 78 per cent of the recipients based outside of London. From a live performance inside the Scottish Parliament to a production using Skype to include performers who are housebound, those funded through the 2013 theatre scheme are as diverse in what they produce as they are in their locations.

The 2013 theatre grants see the North West of England receiving 15 of the 77. At 19 per cent, it is the largest region outside of London to benefit, with 17 grants in London then nine apiece in South West England and Scotland.

Benefitting from phone voting on The Voice and incidental revenue accumulated through telephone voting lines on BBC entertainment programmes like Strictly Come Dancing, BBC Performing Arts Fund (PAF) recipients include writers, directors and theatre groups.

Theatre Fellowships number 19, with each placement receiving £10,000 of funding. Fellowships will be completed over the course of the next year, receiving mentoring, training, development and networking opportunities.

funding recipients have their say “Dramaturgy as a career came to me very naturally but totally unexpectedly - theatre was always a hobby, and linking it to my work with writers has created a sudden, perfect fit. I’m bowled over that the BBC Performing Arts Fund has given me such a generous and thoughtful chance to develop this work.”

Performers who have received support from PAF in previous years include Oscar-winning singer Adele, whose first recording equipment came courtesy of a grant in 2003 when she was just 15, as well as composer Mark Simpson, soprano Katherine Rudge and choreographer James Wilton. PAF has, over the course of its 10-year history, contributed over £4 million to the UK’s performing arts sector, through its annual awards of grants for theatre, dance and music. Funding reaches both performers at the very start of their careers and people who have not previously received support. As well as supporting individuals - 1,288 to date - PAF also allocates funding to community groups. Of the hundreds of applicants this year, 58 community theatre projects will benefit, with 487 community performances since 2002.

Emily DeDakis, Dramaturg

“I am hugely excited about working at Derby Theatre as the BBC Performing

PAF awards help to foster the next generation of performing talent in Britain.

Arts Fellow. Artists are talking about Derby Theatre and I want to be at the centre of that growth as it happens, feeding into it

Miriam O’Keeffe, Director of the BBC Performing Arts Fund, says: “I think the arts are really important, socially. As a society it is something that can bring people together. We support community groups and emerging talent. The money is made available through phone voting on BBC One entertainment shows, and we have an open applications process. This year we are supporting 19 theatre Fellows and 58 community theatre projects with over £430,000 spread right across the UK. 78 per cent of those supported are based outside of London. It’s been an amazing year, looking at the breadth of theatre happening around the country.” For full details about the BBC Performing Arts Fund visit their website:

and being nurtured by it.” Lucy Doherty, Director

“The support of the BBC Performing Arts Fund will allow The Empty Space to challenge me with in-house projects but also give me access to training, mentoring, networks and resources that are essential in getting my own project off-the-ground.” Jamie Hannon, Producer

“I am delighted to be awarded the Fellowship from the BBC and so excited to be spending the next year working with Theatre Centre, a company with an exceptional history of creating essential new work for young people.” Alex Bulmer, Writer

“It is my ambition to direct for theatre for established and revered theatre companies, and who better than Tinderbox Theatre Company, who have been consistently producing dynamic, cutting-edge plays for audiences in Northern Ireland and beyond for years.” Paul Conaghan, Writer

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feature | amateurstage

> light youth

setting the scene

John Hall from York tells Amateur Stage of the trials, tribulations and great rewards of setting up a new youth section of York Light Opera Company and “doing it yourself”.

Earlier this year the York Light Opera Company set up the Youth section they had so longed for. As the new Director I had to start this new group with a show that would give some impact. We chose York Light Youth as our name and the show was “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” a show with so many challenges. The 90 minute version based on the 1993 tour. We had a hugely positive response from parents and members alike, without whom nothing could have happened and it was a big learning curve for many, but very enjoyable. It requires a minimum of 15 strong boys to fill all the roles and a big ensemble plus a junior choir. It has huge demands on costuming. And is more or less 90 minutes of ensemble work, harmonies and choreography. Madness? Ok, the show can be done in simpler ways, there is a 60 minute version and simpler orchestrations, but we wanted to give spectacle. The starting point for any production has got to be the set. Everything fits around the styling and shape. Having looked extensively around for scenery nothing got me excited and as I had

a budget on scenery of £2000 (and that had to include transport to and from the theatre) our only option was design and build ourselves. Firstly, the show requires maximum space for the big numbers, it requires space to seat a choir who need to be seen (parents requirements), secondly it requires height and as a result steps to join the two elements together. That was our basic shape and the steps gave the choir seating and there required prominence. The height was created with 3no. 8’x4’ standard platforms. The show moves to different locations so we added a ground row depicting desert and Canaan. This was permanent feature and being a cut out allowed colour change on the cyc backing. I wanted something for Egypt and of course it was the pyramids. Potiphars house and Pharoahs palace. These became the 3 cut out flying lines. Almost there, we then needed to think about masking. For this we added 4 columns, 2 front and 2 back with black soft masking filling in. There we had it - our structure. When you think of ‘Joseph’ you automatically think colour. We chose primary colours throughout

depicting the feel of bible story books and graphics with simple flat colours and black lines. We sent out for quotes based on build only and my brother and I (both experienced designers) doing all the design and painting. Our favourite quote was £2000 and included in the cost was the use of the joinery workshop for one week to paint the set. Our society has use of a vehicle to transport everything. So as an added design problem everything needed to fit within the vehicle for economy, ie nothing wider than 6’ or longer than 10’. The end result as the pictures show worked very well, we had a great response to the show and a standing ovation on the Saturday night. The set is available for sale, having had one very careful owner, just make us an offer as we need our storage space back. Telephone John on 07951 464756 | 23

amateurstage | feature

> sing out louise West End star Louise Dearman launches a new tour and a new CD UK Concerts are to present the hugely talented Louise Dearman who is the first actress in the history of the worldwide production of hit musical Wicked to have starred as both Glinda & Elphaba, for her debut UK Tour ‘IT’S TIME’. The UK tour starts on 13th February 2014 in The Octagon Theatre, Somerset and finishes on 11 April 2014 in Courtyard Theatre, Hereford. Louise will be performing some of her favourite musical theatre songs, live with her band, along with a popular selection of modern and classic showstoppers. The tour will leave you spellbound. Louise Dearman is a widely known British musical theatre actress, who has built up a lucrative catalogue of performances both on national tours, in the West End and, in 2005, released her first album ‘You And I’ which featured 12 tracks from well known musicals, including ‘Funny Honey’ from Chicago and ‘On My Own’ from Les Miserables then in 2012 released her second album, ‘Here Comes The Sun’. Her third album, ‘It’s Time’ was released on Monday 18th November on Silvascreen Records. The album tied in with Louise’s exit from Wicked on 16 November 2013. Louise said: “I am delighted to announce my very first UK tour ‘It’s Time’ which coincides with my third studio album of the same title. To be able to perform in venues across the UK with my own show is so exciting and something I’ve wanted to do for such a long time. People can expect to hear a mix of classic musical theatre with some contemporary favourites from the iconic divas I grew up listening to. I’m delighted to introduce my team including Mike Dixon (Music Supervisor) Barney Ashworth (Musical Director), Adam Murray (Director) and Matthew J Hampson (Producer). Not only has Louise taken the West End stage by storm, she has also collaborated with Mark Evans to launch a new book, “The Secrets Of Stage Success”, a guide for those who want to follow in Louise and Mark’s footsteps and develop their own career as performers. Louise graduated from Laine Theatre Arts College and won the Musical Theatre and Opera Award and immediately after, joined the touring cast of Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat as the lynchpin role of The Narrator. In 2000,

24 |

Louise was cast to play Jan for the UK tour of Grease, later returning in 2003 to the Palace Theatre London to play the same role for six months. Other amazing roles Louise has played include Sarah Brown in the national tour of Guys and Dolls, Mimi in the Piccadilly Theatre’s production of Guys and Dolls, Lucy Harris in the UK national tour of Jekyll and Hyde and in 2007, Louise played Debbie at the Edinburgh Festival’s production of Debbie Does Dallas and played Cinderella in both Stoke-On-Trent in 2007 and Milton Keynes in 2009, as well as playing the Fairy Godmother in Wimbledon’s 2008 production of the highly successful pantomime. With lots of exciting projects taking off, Louise will feature on Friday Night Is Music Night on BBC Radio 2 on Friday 20th December at 8pm.

unknown author launches book He’s the anonymous Twitter sensation whose hilarious and unfailingly accurate barbs satirising and celebrating the theatre industry have won him a devoted following. His identity is the subject of feverish speculation in the media, fuelled by his regular appearances at West End opening nights in costume, wig and latex mask. He has become a genuine theatre impresario, launching talent competitions Search for a Twitter Star and its successor, Search for a Twitter Composer. And now West End Producer (WEP) has written a book, Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Acting (But Were Afraid To Ask, Dear), published by Nick Hern Books on 21 November 2013. [And no, his publishers don’t know his real identity, either. So don’t ask] Full of the wit and mischievous indiscretion that has gained him such a cult following, packed with gossip and insider knowledge of the theatre business, and containing enough savvy advice on acting to kickstart a career, WEP’s book offers tips (both practical and deliciously impractical) on: • Getting into drama school (learning how to sit in a circle) • Auditioning (perfecting the ‘staring vacantly out front’ pose) • Rehearsal techniques (including how to act in a serious play) • The different kinds of actor (from sex pest to company idiot) • Combating boredom (and avoiding backstage naughtiness) • The correct way to bow at the curtain call Also included are many of WEP’s most memorable tweets, miniature comic salvos despatched with all the shrewdness of a man who truly knows his Barrowmans from his Balls. alls.

Musicals from the Stagescripts catalogue


... new titles ... new challenges ... new rewards ...

On the Committee? Ask yourself four quick questions ...


x Do all our shows really have to be ex-mega-musicals from the West End? x With good marketing, and at the right venue, could we get an audience in to see something interesting - a musical with a familiar title, but just a bit different? x Would our cast and crew prefer to be creative - to develop their own characters and to design the staging - rather than being obliged to clone somebody else’s work? x With ever-decreasing audience figures, can we afford NOT to try something different?

Depending on your answers, these musicals might be just what you’re looking for!

“… A dark, brooding score; as fiery and dramatic as the subject …”

... the Australian Version!

“… an absolute hoot from beginning to end …”

“A musical journey into the soul of a person searching for a perfect way to live.”

“... a plethora of glorious melodies ... captures the mood of the book ...”

Winner : Best Book & Lyrics Greater Manchester Drama Festival, 2009

“... a wonderful night's entertainment, one which I didn't want to end ...”

“A fabulous cross between Celebrity Fit Club and Dad’s Army”

Plays from the Stagescripts catalogue ... new titles ... new challenges ... new rewards ... Playing Away (5m, 8f) 2 Acts

The Essence of Love (3m, 2f) 2 Acts

a comedy by Janet Shaw

a comedy by Philip Ayckbourn A mother and her daughter together with a father and his son find themselves on adjacent hotel terraces in Marrakech. There’s anything but love in the air for the four British holiday makers and when the gift of a magical elixir gets into the water, unlikely passions take root. This promises to be no ordinary spell in the sun! Overbearing Diana; her idealist daughter, Gemma; the aloof young artist, Tom and his skirt-chasing father, Martin, are in for a holiday they won’t forget. ‘The Essence of Love’ looks at the longings of the heart and what remains when passion has run its course. Stagescripts Ltd Lantern House 84 Littlehaven Lane Horsham, West Sussex RH12 4JB

It's darts time again at the Frog and Duck. The girls' team have made the final again and the lads, well, the lads are struggling. The excitement of the competition is overshadowed when a routine medical examination jeopardises the rock-solid marriage of landlord Alan and his wife Kath. Kath is pregnant, but Alan has had a vasectomy. Could it be that someone at the pub other than the darts team has been playing away? Add an interfering mother-in-law for Alan, an unintelligible Irish man and a pair of the town's worst dieters and you have the recipe for a night of hilarity fused together with just the right amount of pathos. 0700 581 0581

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View the full collection online at:


feature | amateurstage

> the show must go on

Aldridge Musical Comedy Society pull the cat out of the bag in the face of adversity. Aldridge Musical Comedy Society were staging the concluding part of the trilogy of NODA award winning pantomimes - Dick Whittington: Return of the Rat, written by commitee member Mark Nicholls featuring Dick Whittington and his band of heroes, pantomime villains galore and many traditional elements.

show would go on. The original theatre agreed to release all items apart from the stage cloths and several members of the cast and committee made numerous journeys back and forth to move everything. At 7.00pm on Wednesday 20th November the cast and crew began their technical rehearsal.

The panto was booked to be performed on Thursday 21st November to Saturday 23rd November with production rehearsals running from Monday evening in the theatre. Whilst running the band call, putting together final staging and props, a large roller bar fell from the ceiling scaffolding onto 2 society members, resulting in one performer injuring her shoulder and the other suffering a head injury which resulted in her being knocked unconscious and requiring paramedic assessment and hospitalisation. Whilst the member was treated in hospital the traumatised cast were sent home amid Health & Safety concerns.

All society members contacted their ticket sales, using social media, emails and good old telephone and advised of the move of venue, the ticket secretary contacted everyone who had bought tickets through her. Unfortunately we did lose some of our audience, who were unable to travel but this was to be expected and although sad, couldn’t be helped.

The school theatre was closed, whilst awaiting a visit from the HSE as this was deemed a reportable incident under RIDDOR and the cast was advised the show would be cancelled. An emergency committee meeting was called for Tuesday evening (due to be the technical rehearsal) to discuss the damage this could cause to the society. The society’s musical director Ben Batt had spoken to Coppice Performing Arts School in Wednesfield who offered the use of their facilities if we wanted to continue. The committee desperately wanted to carry on but were concerned this would be impossible, the stage cloths, lighting, spotlights, scenery, props, band instruments were all at the theatre and they were unable to gain access to them. There was also an audience to advise, would they move to a theatre in a different town 25 minutes’ drive away? The school theatre seats less! All of these concerns were valid. After deliberating cancelling the show, or re-arranging it to a different week which causes issues with availability for the cast, band, stage management team it was decided that if they could secure Coppice Performing Arts School, then we should go ahead. The cast was told at 9.45pm via email and facebook that a rescue plan was under way and to keep watch on emails for a decision. Julie Lamb, Chairwoman and Ben Batt, Musical Director amongst others, worked miracles and an announcement was made at 1.30pm on Wednesday, 30 hours before opening, that the

The audience for Thursday night were advised that Thursday would now be a dress rehearsal and they were welcome to watch it as is or could swap their tickets to another night. Everyone chose to watch. From the sound of the rapturous applause, they weren’t disappointed. The panto was a success. It was enjoyed by all who attended. The audience were enthusiastic, with plenty of booing and hissing. It was reported by members of the audience that although they noticed at first that there were no cloths, only 5 mins in, with the wonderful costumes and energetic dancing the missing cloths were soon forgotten! The cast rallied around and when the curtain went down on Thursday night the whoops of delight and tears of joy where vindication that the committee had been justified in moving the show. A similar reaction was seen for the following three performances, culminating on Saturday evening with a cheer which could have been heard at the original theatre. Although potentially disastrous for the Society this has been a unifying experience, the whole cast, crew and committee worked so hard and it’ll be a pantomime to remember. Never a society to take it easy, rehearsals start in December for the next Show in May 2014 of “Singing in the Rain”. AMCS would welcome anyone who would like to come and join this tenacious, plucky little society, stage a well-loved master piece. See the website for full details.

theatre craft a huge hit More than 1000 young people aged 16-25 from all over the UK attended TheatreCraft 2013, the free non-performance theatre careers fair that was opened at 9am on Friday 22nd November 2013 by Jamie Lloyd at the Royal Opera House. Now in its eighth year, TheatreCraft is a fun and unique glimpse into the ‘behind the scenes’ world of theatre. Participants spent the day exploring topics including producing, stage management, wigmaking, lighting, marketing, theatre journalism, sound, directing, costume design, playwriting and designing. Delegates were able to choose from over 70 workshops delivered by skilled theatre professionals, meet more than 50 exhibitors in the bustling marketplace, visit the ‘Ask the Experts’ zone which offers one-to-one advice sessions with 33 industry experts and, new this year, go to networking hubs to interact with their peers. Jamie Lloyd, in an address to participants this morning, said: “It’s ok not to have an idea of what exactly you want to do in theatre or why, it is your passion and drive to be part of the industry that is the most important thing. This vital and important event gives you a chance to explore that passion. So soak it up and make the most of this day. Make it the best day of your life!” 22 year old Leeds based student Jamie Simmons, an aspiring director, braved a very early start and travelled down on the megabus at 3am this morning to be in time to hear Jamie Lloyd’s speech. Commenting on the day Jamie Simmons said; “Meeting Jamie Lloyd was brilliant, I can’t believe it. Trying to break into directing where I’m based can be a struggle which is why coming today was so important for me. Standing face to face with potential employers gave me a much better angle to be able to portray my passion for, understanding of and dedication to the arts. I hope to find some kind of work placement, which I need as part of my university course, out of the contacts I made today.” | 27

the musical produced | amateurstage

>musical produced company

Paul Frecknall of Sharnbrook Mill Theatre Company tells Amateur Stage about their recent production of the Stephen Sondheim classic, Company. Sharnbrook Mill Theatre, located on the outskirts of Sharnbrook village, Bedfordshire, has a good reputation for quality productions. Each year, they perform two musicals and two plays. They also have a developing youth theatre element who have successfully tackled Les Miserables, West Side Story and next season will perform Miss Saigon. Introduction As many Sondheim fans will know, Company is a two act ‘concept’ musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by George Furth. There have been a number of recent revivals in both the UK and New York, but the show debuted on Broadway in 1970 and two years later in London at Her Majesty’s Theatre. The ‘story’, set in New York, is very much taking place in Robert’s head. It is his 35th birthday and he is still single, while all around him his ‘married friends’ send out mixed messages as to the reason why they are all together. Sondheim has occasionally been performed at the Mill since 2000 (Gypsy, 2013; A Little Night Music,

2007; Sweeney Todd, 2001). Company had been regularly suggested by director Paul Frecknall since 2008 and the production committee felt that this year was the right time to stage it. It had been a show that Paul had been inspired to direct since seeing the Sam Mendes production staged at the Donmar in 1996. Together with Sondheim enthusiast Kaye Tompkins (Musical Director) and Melanie Coleman (Choreographer), the production team planned pre-audition workshops and auditions for early June 2013. Casting Advertising went out on the Mill’s website and newsletter with information about the show and the characters. Two workshops were planned prior to the auditions. The workshops were exciting and fun as participants ran through some of the songs and choreography. Lots of chat about the show took place with information given by the director as to the concept and stage/set design. Company is made up of fourteen characters and there is no chorus. So, everyone has to be able to sing, dance and act; nobody can hide behind the person in

front! There were selected pieces to become familiar with for those auditioning, which included dialogue and songs; everyone had to learn a piece of the choreography for ‘Side By Side’. One Sunday afternoon in early June was set aside for the auditions and, by early evening, with six new members joining, Company was cast. Costumes As lighting was to be the main source of colour, the costumes were monochromatic; black, white, greys, patterns and plain. They were designed to fit in with a contemporary time-period rather than the 1970’s when the show was written. This helped keep both the relevance of the theme as well as the fluidity of the show, so important in helping to put over Robert’s dilemma. Set and Props The Sharnbrook Mill Theatre features a mediumsized stage with an upper mezzanine level. The mezzanine is normally only accessible via two, fixed, upstage staircases. | 29

amateurstage | the musical produced Paul, as director of the show, also designed the set. His background in art education led him to base the concept for staging the show on a painting he had studied when a student (in another age!). The painting, ‘Broadway Boogie Woogie’ by Piet Mondrian (1872 - 1944), is the artist’s interpretation of looking down on the grid system of New York. Made up of a set of intersecting vertical and horizontal yellow lines (based on New York’s famous yellow taxi cabs), with red and blue squares at the intersections, the painting suggests the rhythms of a bustling city. The repetition of the ‘Bobby, Bobby...’ theme in Sondheim’s score helped make connections for the director/ designer. Mondrian’s painting, on a white background, meant that the back wall of the stage, plus a sixteen foot high false wall built on the mezzanine level, was to be painted white with the interpretation of the grid motif painted over the top. The Monday-night construction team dealt with the building and a couple of retired village residents and the director did the rest of the painting. The rest of the set was made up of two large 5x5 square units, two 2x2 square units, and one single cube (all white), a black and white sofa, a black table and 3 chairs (doubling as a park bench) and a white bed with black and grey duvet and pillows. The units and sofa were all on castors to enable the cast to reposition furniture for different settings during transitions and musical numbers to ensure

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the fluidity of the show. The units also featured primary colour panels, drawers and cupboards which housed all the props for the show, many of which were on display throughout. A key challenge was Robert’s birthday cake that appears at the start and end of each act. On four occasions in each performance, the cake appears, lit with 35 candles. Initially, the candles do not blow out, but eventually they are extinguished in the final seconds of the show. This was a challenge for the stage manager, who had to time ignition of the candles so that they didn’t burn down before the scene was over! Over 300 self-relighting ‘magic’ candles were purchased from the internet and were very effective. It was also necessary to fireproof one of the actors’ costumes as the magic candles produced sparks when lit! Finally, a major feature of the set was a spiral staircase. This was specially designed and constructed by member Ron Johnson. This gave a very urban and 21st century ‘look’ to Robert’s Manhattan apartment, connecting the stage level to the mezzanine level, in addition to the two fixed staircases. Sound & Lighting The excellent Team Eventex were responsible for sound and lighting. They are a local team of enthusiasts who have lit many previous shows at

the Mill. Their brief was to ensure fluidity and add colour to define contexts and settings. Lighting helped to clarify Robert’s dilemma through isolating him in light pools as and when appropriate and to add spectacle in numbers like ‘Side By Side’. To this effect, 20 LED bars were added to the set and patterns were programmed in through pixel mapping to give definition, motif and spectacle. Each cast member wore an individual radio mic and the orchestra, placed behind the stage (in the dressing room!), was extensively wired-for-sound. The challenge of the cast and band ‘hearing each other’ was effectively achieved, eventually, with a number of foldback speakers on the stage, the mezzanine level and near the orchestra. Other sound effects were added to give the audience a sense of New York as they entered and left the auditorium. Throughout the show, where scripted, thunder, rain and other sounds were used to create setting and atmosphere. Marketing Traditional methods of marketing were used, including posters and mailshots, and the new online ticketing facility linked from the Mill’s website was a great asset. We created a Facebook page and event that we could use to whet appetites and use as reminders and the group’s Twitter account was also utilised. An interview with the director and David Russell (who played Robert) on BBC Radio Northampton took place a week before opening.

the musical produced | amateurstage

The Sondheim followers certainly got behind the show too, travelling a fair few miles across counties to see the performances. Conclusion The show opened on Monday 18th November with a charity night for MacMillan and then ran from the 19th to the 23rd, selling out the 185-seater auditorium on two nights and averaging over 80% houses for the rest of the run. We even managed a 140+ audience on the final performance which clashed with the Dr Who 50th Birthday celebrations. More importantly, we kept our leading man, an unashamed Whovian! The show got tremendous feedback, both verbally and on social networks, from those who came. Even from those who ‘normally don’t like Sondheim’ but support the Mill, were enthused and excited by this one. As for the director, who was attempting his first musical, his feelings were of tremendous relief that all had gone so well. As the week unfolded, he found that he could sit back and enjoy watching the show… with just the odd production note here and there! Company: Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim Book by George Furth Amateur Rights: Josef Weinberger Ltd

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All photographs ©Terry Sykes | 31

> theatre

feature | amateurstage

a social medium?

How well does Social Media serve amateur theatre? Julian Cound examines how different groups should use different platforms and how we all could be doing things a lot better. click a button within the amateur theatre box office system and have the event automatically posted. Some amateur theatre box office systems do in fact now allow this. Companies interacting with Ticket Buyers. Score for Social Networks: C The main interaction here of course is announcement of events and instructions on how to buy tickets from the company to the ticket buyers. Then, ticket buyers purchasing the tickets, sending the money, and receiving the tickets. Online box office systems and ticketing systems provide most of this functionality, not social networks. However, as stated above, some box office systems allow groups to announce events, with one click on Facebook and Twitter.

Since we work extensively with amateur theatre groups, we have been examining the degree to which current social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, serve the needs of amateur theatre groups on a national basis. This article examines who the different parties are that are involved in amateur theatre, what interactions need to occur amongst those parties and how well current social network platforms serve the needs. Parties Interacting in amateur theatre We look at three primary groups involved in community theatre: performers, companies, and ticket buyers. Performers, of course, are the people on stage or in the orchestra delivering the show. Companies are the amateur theatre groups themselves – the people involved in putting on the show and responsible for selling tickets. Ticket buyers are the paying audience members. We take a look at how these parties interact with each other and we assess the degree to which traditional social network platforms can assist in these interactions. Performers interacting with Performers. Score for Social Networks: APerformers like to share information about upcoming audition opportunities with each other, and are eager to share the good news of landing roles. They also like to share ideas and compare

notes with each other. Facebook and twitter are natural platforms to do this on and serve those needs well. They also like to share pictures of themselves performing and of the excitement of the events. Facebook and Pinterest are great social platforms here. Performers interacting with Companies. Score for Social Networks: C Companies wish to share audition opportunities with performers. Existing social networks do not handle this well. It would be nice if groups could create an audition opportunity and let performers apply for the opportunity. Rather, audition opportunities are posted on the group’s website and can be shared on Facebook and Twitter. Amateur Stage Magazine runs a weekly email alert with audition notices - if you want to have your details included then please get in touch. Once cast, performer and company interactions include rehearsal schedule updates and general notes. Again, these types of updates are not naturally done on existing social networks. Performers interacting with Ticket Buyers. Score for Social Networks: B Performers like to announce the shows they are in as a way to increase awareness and drive ticket sales. Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus are all great platforms to do that with. However, the performer must type in the event into twitter or Facebook. It would be nice if the performer or company could

Companies also like to let the general public know about how great the show is once it starts. Leveraging the traditional social media makes sense. This is also a great opportunity for Pinterest. Companies can post exciting pictures about the show. Companies Interacting with Companies. Score for Social Networks: C+ Amateur theatre groups traditionally don’t see themselves as competing with other groups as much as, say, private businesses do. Therefore, they like to share best practices, or give references for performers or even share sets with each other. This is not an area currently well served by the traditional social network platforms. These types of interactions are more one-to-one, whereas most social networks connect many to many. Ticket Buyers Interacting with Ticket Buyers. Score for Social Networks: A Ticket buyers interact with each other to a great extent. They arrange groups to go see shows and they plan which events they should go to together. They also like to share the fact that they purchased tickets to encourage their friends to also go to the events. Facebook and twitter serve this interaction requirement well. We’d love to get your thoughts. How well do you believe existing social network platforms serve your needs? | 33

image Š Bia Borrin

feature | amateurstage

> ayckbourn the unseen side

When it comes to Alan Ayckbourn, there’s little that Simon Murgatroyd doesn’t know. As the playwright’s official archivist and website manager he could write an entire book - which is exactly what he has done. Nick Smurthwaite from The Stage investigates. Did you know that Alan Ayckbourn was once an assistant stage manager in Donald Wolfit’s touring company? Or that Britain’s most produced playwright was a radio drama producer in Leeds for five years in the 1960s? Look in the biography listing on Ayckbourn’s official website and you will discover things even his most ardent fans didn’t know. It is crying out for a Mastermind contestant to come along, hoover up its 3500 pages and present John Humphrys with the Bard of Scarborough as their specialist subject. The person responsible for collating and recording all this Ayckbournalia is his official archivist and website editor Simon Murgatroyd, a former dancer and journalist who set up the website in 2001, and is about to publish Unseen Ayckbourn, a book about the playwright’s early writings. Murgatroyd, who has lived in Scarborough since childhood and once worked in the box office at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, is uniquely qualified to lay claim to the title of the world’s greatest Ayckbourn expert, since he wrote a 65,000-word dissertation on the playwright while studying for his MA. “There was a misunderstanding between myself and the university about the word count,” he axplains. “I was actually only required to write 25,000 words, but luckily they allowed me to submit it anyway. It took me two years, and I rather naively thought I would learn form my tutors, but they said I knew more about my subject than they did, so they just let me get on with it.”

students would be encouraged to use it freely. He is a strong believer that knowledge shouldn’t come at a premium. We meet up most days, but he allows me free reign. The only time he raised his eyebrows was when I suggested a Facebook page. he didn’t think that was a good idea. “The remit is quite strict - to provide factual information about the plays and the playwright, and to be objective.” No other living British Playwright has anything remotely comparable. the closest are the Pinter website, which pre-dates Murgatroyd’s and provided a measur eof inspiration, and that of Andrew Lloyd Webber, a no-expense-spared bells and whistles extravaganza, which Murgatroyd describes as “very slick.” Where the Ayckbourn site is without peer is in its in-depth analysis of his output. Given that he has written 77 plays and counting, that is a considerable feat on Murgatroyd’s behalf. In addition to his own detailed interviews with the playwright, Murgatroyd has also borrowed liberally from the massive Ayckbourn archive held, since 2011, at the Borthwick Institute at the University of York, as well as the Bob Watson archive, which is more concerned with the Stephen Joseph Theatre as a whole, for which the upkeep Murgatroyd is now responsible.

looking at Ayckbourn’s early work, some of it abandoned, unpublished or subsequently re-written. He has now revised, expanded and updated it, and included a new interview about the early work. This latest edition, re-titled Unseen Ayckbourn, will be available to order from the website’s shop section from May next year, with proceeds going to the Stephen Joseph Theatre. One thing that strikes you about the shop is the dearth of Ayckbourn plays availabkle on DVD. Apparently, despite his enduring popularity among the world’s theatregoers, there is no demand for any permanent record of his work. The excellent 1977 film-for-TV version of The Norman Conquests was withdrawn after two years, and Michael Winner’s feeble 1989 big-screen version of A Chorus of Disapproval, despite a starry cast, failed to do justice to the play. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Ayckbourn has never shown much interest in writing for TV or the cinema, and his devotion to theatre-in-theround has more or less ruled out filming plays at Scarborough. He is quintessentially a man of the theatre, and Murgatroyd’s achievement has been to celebrate and annotate that for posterity.

Last year, the website surpassed one million page views, and reckons to get an average of 1,600 unique visitors every day.

Having struggled o find reference material pertaining to Ayckbourn’s plays, Murgatroyd decided to set up the website, with the playwright’s blessing, to help other students in their researches. It went from 30 pages in the early days to the present, definitive online resource, providing in-depth analysis of the plays, penetrating and insightful interviews conducted by Murgatroyd, and a commentary on his work by the playwright himself.

Because Ayckbourn’s plays are produced and studied in amny foreign countries, Murgatroyd fields numerous queries from all over the world. “Generally speaking they are in English, but it is not always very clear what people are asking for,” he explins. “I have one from some German students recently, appearing to ask why A Small Family Business finished with a chainsaw massacre, which I have to say stumped me.”

“Alan and I were both keen it should be a free resource - no advertising, no subscription - so that

In 2009, to mark the playwright’s 70th birthday, Murgatroyd published a book, Sight Unseen, | 35

feature | amateurstage

> half a century of pantomime

Stephen Bell from Whitley Bay Pantomime Society looks back on fifty years of the group’s history but also forward to a successful future. How we got here In 1964 the only North East Theatre with a traditional pantomime was the Civic Theatre, Darlington, so with no money and even less experience of a major show a group of enthusiastic people boldly announced in September of that year, the formation of “Whitley Bay Amateur Pantomime Society” and plans went determinedly ahead for “Aladdin and his Wonderful Lamp” to be presented at the Priory Theatre, Whitley Bay from 11th to 16th January 1965. All the costumes were home-made, many were indeed wonderful creations as was the scenery and props and the BBC was persuaded to give the Pantomime a spot in their local TV Magazine Programme. The Pantomime was produced by Geoff Watson, Musical Director Fred Knowles and Choreographer Olive M.D. Harper. The Chairman and his wife (Ernie and Marjorie Scorer) were connected to Whitley Bay Scouting, which proved of tremendous importance in turning a vision into reality as the Scouts provided the backstage/ crewing experience.

keep going without break until the Dress Rehearsal at the Theatre in January. Whilst “Amateur” was dropped from the Society’s name all our members are volunteers. We have some families with three generations all taking part and many of our members also belong to other local Societies. Three of the main Aims and Objectives of the Society are: To present an annual pantomime. To promote the study and development of the arts and skills associated with the pantomime tradition. To benefit charitable bodies out of any funds that may become surplus to the requirements of the Society as decided at the Annual General Meeting by a majority of members present and voting. Over the years the Society has donated thousands of pounds to local charities, the success of our 2011 “Cinderella” allowed members to agree donations to various local charities totalling £1,000.00. In 2014 we plan to celebrate our 50th Anniversary with a sparkling and lavish production of ... well what else could it be but .....“Aladdin”

The magic of fifty “Aladdin” proved a big hit with local audiences and ten annual Pantomimes followed before the Priory Theatre was closed at short notice and some fast and furious adjustments were needed to transfer “Robinson Crusoe” to what is now known as The Playhouse in January 1975. It would take too long to mention all the people who helped put on those early shows. Many sadly no longer with us. Suffice to say they will never be forgotten and the tremendously high standards they set continue to be maintained.

This year sees Dr. Who celebrating 50 years of television drama. More locally one of the Whitley Bay Estate Agents - J.G.Sawyers and Sons, is marking 50 years of trading. Within Whitley Bay Pantomime Society fifty is also important. Our President, Jim Graham, has been presented with a framed Certificate representing 50 years membership of his profession - the Chartered

Institute of Environmental Health. He is also hoping to be presented during the Pantomime Aladdin in January with the gold award of the National and Dramatic Association (NODA) that will represent 50 years of work within Amateur Theatre. It is also Whitley Bay Pantomime Society’s half century in presenting Pantomimes in our local theatres - first in the original Priory Theatre then to the new Playhouse Theatre via the old Playhouse and the Peoples Theatre. The Society is proud to acknowledge the fact that a Pantomime has been presented by them each and every year without fail. When the Society started it presented “Aladdin” which was the only Pantomime produced in the North East that year. Now the Society is proud to record that traditional Christmas pantomimes for children and young people has been kept alive and now revived In its fiftieth year Whitley Bay Pantomime Society will once again present the traditional story of “Aladdin”, this time produced by local well known Jeff Waites. It will be his 60th pantomime production therefore a milestone all by itself. Aladdin will be presented in the Playhouse Theatre, Whitley Bay from 14th to 19th January 2014. Tickets are now available from the Booking Secretary on 0191 252 3681 or from The Playhouse 0844 248 1588

The Society has always placed a firm emphasis on traditional Pantomime, directing entertainment at the children in our audiences and involving them in the action as much as possible. After all, Pantomime is very often their first experience of live theatre and this is especially important in today’s electronic age. When The Playhouse closed in 2007 for renovation, the Society transferred to the People’s Theatre, Heaton, staging “Jack & The Beanstalk” in 2008 and “Goldilocks” in 2009. In 2010 we returned “home” to The Playhouse with “Sleeping Beauty”. We are a friendly Society whose members work hard, but also have lots of fun and we are always looking for willing hands to help out with a variety of jobs. Rehearsals commence in September and | 37

amateurstage | playscripts

>playscripts David Muncaster reviews the latest playscript offerings

PLAY OF THE MONTH JUMPERS FOR GOALPOSTS By Tom Wells Nick Hern Books ISBN NO: 9781848423268 CAST: 4M 1F plus one voice TYPE: Full Length The play begins with a voice from the radio reading di ffootball tb ll results. lt IIn the original production this voice was provided by James Alexander Gordon who, for as long as I can remember, has communicated the results on the BBC every Saturday. However, I have never heard him read out a scoreline such as Lesbian Rovers 5, Barely Athletic 0! Viv is the captain of the losing team above that has been so roundly thrashed and she is not happy. She seems to be the only one taking

FLEABAG By Phoebe Waller-Bridge Nick Hern Books ISBN NO: 9781848423640 CAST: 1F TYPE: Full Length I hesitate to describe this as a monologue because there are a number of characters in this play even if Fl Fleabag b iis th the only l one on stage. The other characters’ lines can either be pre-recorded or spoken by the actress. It begins with a job interview which goes horribly wrong when Fleabag goes to remove her jumper forgetting that she is not wearing a top underneath. The interviewer thinks that he is being propositioned and the interview soon turns into a slanging match. The reason that Fleabag is looking for a job is because she is skint. She runs a café that she started with her friend, Boo, but now Boo is dead: she walked into a cycle lane hoping for an injury that would land her in hospital and teach her boyfriend a lesson, but three people died in the resulting accident. Now hardly anyone comes into the café leaving Fleabag plenty of time to think about sex; which she does just about all the time. Fleabag puts it best herself: “I have a horrible feeling I’m a greedy, perverted, selfish, apathetic,

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it seriously: Luke just wants to get home to his Dad’s Yorkshire Puddings; Joe’s in a strop because Viv has had a go at him about his fitness; Danny fancies Luke but has a secret reason why he cannot ask him out, and Geoff, a busker, dreams of playing the stage at Hull Pride and becoming a gay icon. The following week the team has been beaten 7 - 0 by Man City (in this case Man is just Man; it isn’t short for Manchester) and Viv has decided that the team needs coaching. She has a book about coaching junior football teams: Geoff thinks that’s a bit harsh but Viv tells him that the shop didn’t have a book for coaching toddlers. She just wants them to have a go. Losing is bad enough but losing when you haven’t really been trying is much worse. She seems to have struck a chord: the following week they win, beating Tranny United 4-1. What’s changed? For one thing Geoff has stopped sleeping with the opposition, though that was no great hardship. The last time, in the middle of all the action the music playing in the background changed to Enya. It isn’t easy being passionate to a soundtrack of Orinoco Flow! badly dressed, cynical, depraved, mannishlooking, morally bankrupt woman”. Her dad’s response is that she must get all that from her mother. To say that the humour is adult oriented would be the understatement of the year; it is absolutely filthy. But, if you can accept the rudeness, then it is also very funny and there is pathos by the bucket load. Fleabag has a habit of destroying things, most commonly she destroys the things that are important to her, but any sympathy we may feel for her is countered by a sense that she deserves everything that happens to her; her addiction to sex more important to her than friends and family. This is a play that will divide people due to the adult content, but there is no doubting the writer’s talent.

GIRLS LIKE THAT By Evan Placey Nick Hern Books ISBN NO: 9781848423534 CAST: 6-24F TYPE: Full Length When a naked photograph of her goes viral on the internet, Scarlett is suddenly the centre of attention for all the wrong reasons.

Things are going well: the team is progressing up the Hull Gay and Lesbian Five-a-Side Football League and Danny and Luke are finally getting it together. But there is also tension. Danny’s secret is becoming the elephant in the room and we, the audience, have started to love the characters and want everything to be all right. Finally, Danny tells Luke; he has HIV. “Why didn’t you tell me?”, demands Luke. “Quite a big thing to tell someone.”, explains Danny. “Quite a big thing not to tell someone.”, counters Luke. Luke panics: leaves and doesn’t turn up the following week. But we eventually get reconciliation and even though the end is cheesy, perhaps deliberately so, we are happy that things could be OK. Tom Wells has already demonstrated his talent with plays like The Kitchen Sink and Me, As A Penguin, but with Jumpers for Goalposts he has written a play that is warm, funny and accessible. This is a very enjoyable, poignant but thoroughly entertaining play.

Everyone who knows her has something to say but Scarlett herself is keeping her mouth shut. To understand how we got here we go back in time to when Scarlett and the other girls are five years old and enter the St. Helen’s School for Girls. This is a school that selects just 20 girls each year based on their academic ability and their potential to think outside the box. For example: “Sophie has a car with only one working door. She has five friends who each take 45 seconds to enter through the door and take their seat. How many of them will be seated 90 seconds after Sophie unlocks the door?” Answer: “All of them. It’s a convertible”. For the next seven years these girls progress through their education. Always together; always in the same class. They are like a family; but they have a pecking order, just like the chickens on one girl’s farm. Scarlett is at the bottom. At secondary school the girls are still together, not listening to their history teacher talking about “suffering jets”, when their mobile phones all go off. Each of them has received a photo message. Every one the same. A photo of Scarlett. Naked. Some press delete, others press forward. Within the minutes the whole school has it. Later the phones receive another naked photo but this one is not Scarlett; it is Russell, the school hunk. Where Scarlett was a slut, Russell is a hero. Boys high five him in the corridor. Everyone assumes that Scarlett and Russell took the photos of each other and Scarlett is beaten up by Russell’s girlfriend. Scarlett transfers to

playscripts | amateurstage another school but the photo is soon doing the rounds there and suddenly the police are asking questions. Scarlett has gone missing; the girls fear suicide. All of the lines in this script are spoken directly to the audience, never to each other, and the majority of them are not assigned to any particular character. This gives the play a sense of detachment reflected on the script cover which has lines from the play as they might appear on a social media website. The problem, for me, is that it seems as though it is trying too hard to appeal to a teenage audience. It is full of issues that face young people whilst growing up but doesn’t offer any solutions and the style of delivery gives it a feel of being a step away from reality. All of which means that Evan Placey’s play, like his character, Scarlett, is likely to face rejection.

AGATHA CRUSTY AND THE VILLAGE HALL MURDERS By Derek Webb New Theatre Publications ISBN NO: 9781840948929 CAST: 4M 6F or 3M 7F TYPE: Full Length Agatha Crusty is a celebrated crime novelist h h it d b who has b been iinvited by her sister in law, Alice, to spend a few days with her in the village of Chortelby. On her arrival she finds that there have recently been a number of unexplained deaths and soon becomes caught up in a murder investigation being conducted by the incompetent Inspector Twigg. The script is brimming with lots of wonderful word play. I particularly enjoyed Inspector Twigg’s explanation of the components of a murder enquiry: there must be Motive, Opportunity and Method, which will require: Detection, Application and Dedication in order to produce: Killers In Dock Sooner. The characters’ names also provide Inspector Twigg with plenty of opportunity to get himself in a muddle with lines like, “Isn’t it true that you refused to let Carrie marry Barry, Harry?” Agatha is, of course, the archetypal meddling crime writer but Twigg is so incompetent he is glad of her help. As the members of the village hall committee are bumped off one by one, motives and theories abound; but Agatha calmly examines the evidence until we reach the inevitable themurderer-is-someone-in-this-room scene. This is a play that is going to delight anyone who revels in a traditional comedy/murder with lots of witty lines and funny scenes. But there is also a genuine murder plot and I am sure that audiences will enjoy separating the red herrings from the real clues. Finally, I have to say that I have read enough of Derek Webb’s comedies to know that he never disappoints but he had me going with this one. With an Inspector Twigg there is an obvious joke that has to be in there somewhere but he makes us wait until the very last page. It does, however, add to the sense of satisfaction when the curtain

falls; the play just wouldn’t have been complete without a Special Branch reference!

BLUE STOCKINGS By Jessica Swale Nick Hern Books ISBN NO: 9781848423299 CAST: 13M 8F TYPE: Full Length Girton College, Cambridge, was the first residential college in Britain for women. But, at the end of their studies, they were unable to obtain a degree and left the college merely as a Blue Stocking: an unqualified but educated woman. It is 1896 and we follow the story of Tess and her fellow students through their academic year as they fight for the right to graduate. Their education begins with their tutor, the eccentric Mr Banks, inviting Tess to mount a bicycle (whilst he turns his back to preserve her modesty, naturally) in order to demonstrate Isaac Newton’s theory of mechanics and the first law of motion: that an object will continue in its state of rest, known as inertia, until it is affected by an outside force, in this case Tess whom he instructs to press down on the pedal. Once the lectures begin, things are as you might expect: the women raise their hands to answer a question but are ignored even though none of the men are able to give the answer; Tess perseveres and is ordered out of the lecture hall; the rest of the women are threatened with expulsion unless they learn their place. Our story, to date, has been rather pedestrian. Of course with the advent of mixed education there is the distraction of the opposite sex and we also get what feels like quite a naive subplot of class divide where the woman from the poor background, the most brilliant student, is forced to return home to care for her family when her mother dies. The remaining women continue their studies until, finally, the whole university has a vote on whether they should be allowed to graduate. They lose; it wasn’t until 1948 that women were able to gain a degree from Cambridge University. Blue Stockings is pleasant enough but, given the subject matter, I was hoping for rather more than an inoffensive Rom-Com and with a running time of around two hours, these stockings have a fair amount of unnecessary filler.


THE DISTRESSED TABLE By Melville Lovatt New Theatre Publications ISBN NO: 9781840949018 CAST: 1M 1F TYPE: One Act The distressed table occupies the centre

space of Bernard’s village furniture shop. Its unique look is obtained by the workers in the factory in Indonesia, where it is manufactured, by hitting it with hammers and chains. Christine likes the table but would prefer it if it were less distressed. However, the potential purchase is just the platform on which Melville Lovatt serves this enjoyable tale of two people seeking a way to move on with their lives. Bernard’s wife has left him though, for now, he will only admit that she is “away on business”. Christine’s husband is responsible for the only bit of scandal ever to have occurred in this sleepy village. He was a banker who was caught with his hand in the till and subsequently committed suicide whilst in prison. Bernard knows the story, of course, but doesn’t know that he was Christine’s husband until she leaves him a card so he can contact her if there is any news on the table. He recognises the name and regrets joking with her about it on what might loosely be termed “a date”. The two of them have developed an odd relationship: both of them more than willing to take offence at the slightest provocation, yet they are drawn to each other for reasons that they cannot explain. When the truth does finally come out it seems like they might be starting a new chapter in their lives that will bring them closer together. In his notes Melville Lovatt advises that the settings might be suggested rather than constructed and I believe that this style of presentation would work best with this quite enigmatic play. We get just a glimpse into the lives of Bernard and Christine, the author wisely choosing to leave much of the story to our imagination thereby giving us plenty to talk about on the way home.

THE WOLVES OF WILLOUGHBY CHASE Adapted by Russ Tunney from the book by Joan Aiken Nick Hern Books ISBN NO: 978184842338 CAST: Minimum 3M 2F TYPE: Full Length There are no wolves in Britain. B i i But B what h if were? ? What if they entered Britain via a tunnel under the English Channel to escape the bitter cold of mainland Europe? This is the premise of Joan Aitken’s 1962 novel set in in an alternative history of England where the fictional King James III reigned in the nineteenth century. Bonnie lives in the remote Willoughby Chase where she is being cared for by her distant cousin, Miss Slighcarp, whilst her parents are away on a sea voyage. Another cousin, Sylvia, is on the way to stay with them but the train is halted by wolves in the snowy countryside. A kind gentleman, Mr Grimshaw, tells Sylvia not to worry; the wolves seldom eat passengers. At Willoughby Chase Miss Slighcarp is revealing herself to be a most evil guardian but Bonnie is a spirited girl who knows how to stand up for herself. Mr Grimshaw has fought off the wolves but then managed to knock himself out whilst retrieving his | 39

amateurstage | playscripts suitcase. He is brought to Willoughby Chase with Sylvia where he regains consciousness having apparently forgotten his identity. Miss Slighcarp soon begins to make her presence felt: she dismisses all the servants save one; she sends Bonnie’s toys away; she instructs that the girls are to have the plainest of foods whilst she enjoys oysters and champagne, and she locks Bonnie in a cupboard for a minor misdemeanour. There is worse; much worse. Miss Slighcarp and Mr Grimshaw are conspiring to alter the will so that they inherit the house and everything in it once Bonnie’s parents are dead; and the guardian (she) has assurances that the ship they are sailing on is not seaworthy and bound to sink. Bonnie and Sylvia are sent away to an orphanage where life is miserable until they are rescued by Simon, the servant that Miss Slighcarp did not dismiss. He helps the girls get to London where Bonnie sees her father’s solicitor who sets us on our journey to a happy ending. This adaptation makes for good family entertainment though I am uncomfortable with some parts of it. For example Mr Grimshaw is given to peppering his speech with dated racial

stereotypes which I imagine would bemuse children and embarrass their parents. However, a running theme of an obsession with cheese and a few scripted asides is certainly bound to please.


WHAT LOVE IS By Linda McLean Nick Hern Books ISBN NO: 9781848423008 CAST: 1M 2F TYPE: One Act

Two older people, Jean and Gene, are coming to terms with the fact that they are no longer able to look after themselves. Meanwhile, Jeanette is coming to terms with her responsibility to look after Jean and Gene. Is that what love is - responsibility? “She has my smile.” says Jean. “Almost.” says Gene, “But it stops, just there. Before it lights her eye.” Then, “You smiled at her. You smiled at her when you could have been smiling at me.” What emotion! Whilst much of this sugar coated conversation is reminiscent of a pair of love-struck teenagers, if you read between the lines it is clear

that Gene and Jean have suffered their fair share of pain over the years. But Gene remembers very little, is easily distracted and, when Jeanette arrives, almost reverts to childhood. There is a lot of delicate walking-on-eggshells as Jeanette tries not to say the wrong thing but then there is the occasional deliberately hurtful comment that reveals her frustration at her situation. Every line is packed with emotion, much of it pulling vigorously at our heart strings but there are also moments of light relief. For example, when Jeanette leaves the room leaving her platform shoes behind there is a glorious moment when Gene steps into the shoes and gives us a verse of David Bowie’s Jean Genie. Perhaps the excitement of this silliness was too much though. We almost end with tragedy but instead life moves on even if death seems to come nearer. This is such a beautiful written play. Anyone would need to have a heart of stone not to rejoice in the love that Jean and Gene still have for each other and be moved by the fact that, though their lives may be nearly over, they still celebrate the time they have left together.

>it takes a woman Women buy the majority of theatre tickets, make up half the acting profession and are often the largest group of any youth theatre or amateur drama club. And yet they have traditionally been underrepresented on stage.

ISBN: 978-1-84842-185-1 £10.99 paperback Publication date: 14th November 2013 Lucy Kerbel is the director of Tonic Theatre, and an award-winning theatre director. Having begun her career as Resident Director at the National Theatre Studio and English Touring

100 Great Plays for Women seeks to address this gap by celebrating the wealth of drama available for women to perform. Theatre director Lucy Kerbel’s myth-busting book features compact and insightful introductions to 100 plays, each of which has an entirely or predominantly female cast, with the female characters taking an equal or decisive role in driving the on-stage action. Also included are 10 plays for solo female performers. The result is a personal but wide-ranging reappraisal of the theatrical canon, a snapshot of the very best writing - from ancient times right up to the present day - that has female protagonists at its heart. A fascinating mixture of familiar and less well-known works dealing with a broad range of themes, it is an essential resource for all directors and producers looking for plays to stage, writers seeking inspiration and actors trying to track down a new audition

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piece. It is also an exciting provocation that will have readers, both male and female, championing their own personal favourites. The book is the culmination of a project by Tonic Theatre and the National Theatre Studio. Tonic Theatre (www.tonictheatre. was founded by Lucy Kerbel in 2011 to support the theatre industry in achieving greater gender equality in its workforces and repertoires; it partners with leading theatre companies around the UK on a range of projects, schemes and creative works. The National Theatre Studio provides support and resources for both emerging and established theatre-makers of outstanding talent, and contributes to the National’s ongoing search for and training of new artists.

Theatre, Lucy went on to direct a range of classics, new writing and work for younger audiences in theatres such as the Bush, Polka Theatre, Royal Court and Soho Theatre. She is a winner of the Old Vic New Voices Award and the Young Angels Theatremakers Award. Lucy has worked extensively in theatre education and is Learning Associate at the National Theatre.

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amateurstage | feature

>a devil

of a musical

welcome to the judges!

Philip Smith from Ellesmere Port Musical Theatre Company explains why their next show will be wickedly good. After 65 successful years bringing you shows, such as our recent smash hits, Oliver! and Me and My Girl, we may have changed our name from Ellesmere Operatic Society, but we will continue to provide the highest quality productions for our strong, loyal and ever-increasing audiences. This version of ‘The Witches of Eastwick’ is newly adapted and has only just been released to amateur groups. The wicked comedy is based around three women who are bored of their mundane lives in Eastwick and fantasise about their ideal man. Coincidentally, or maybe not, along comes Darryl Van Horne, who uses his charms to release their creative energy! However, he brings with him a corrupting influence that threatens everyone he comes into contact with. And hell hath no fury like three women scorned! Are they witches? How do they deal with this devil-like man? There are fabulous songs, great dance numbers… and just a hint of magic! In an exciting change from the past, we will be performing ‘The Witches of Eastwick’ at Sheffield’s newest performance space, The Blue Shed www. A former warehouse, which has been sympathetically updated to house any

variety of arts installations and productions, this venue offers us some great, alternative production opportunities to a traditional proscenium theatre. In addition, access by car is simple with plenty of free, roadside parking, there are only a few steps to the highest level of seating and access for wheelchairs is simple. There is a bar/café inside the venue that will be open before, during and after the performances. I Can’t Sing - The X Factor musical, has Ellesmere Musical Theatre Company invites you to ‘The Witches of Eastwick’, Tuesday 1st to Saturday 5th April, 2014 Tickets are now on sale from G Mills, 15 Everard Drive, Bradway, Sheffield, S17 4NE, Tel: 0114 236 4487. Prices are £8 for Tuesday evening and £12 for the rest of the week.

found the judges who will sit alongside Nigel Harman’s high-trousered Simon when the show opens at the London Palladium next year. Ghost The Musical’s Ashley Knight will play the perennially positive Louis with Hebburn star Victoria Elliott playing pop queen Jordy.

The Witches of Eastwick, A Musical Comedy by John Dempsey and Dana P Rowe. Originally produced on the London Stage by Cameron Mackintosh. This amateur production is presented by arrangement with Josef Weinberger Ltd. On behalf of Music Theatre International and Cameron Mackintosh Ltd.

Simon Bailey, who boasts London stage credits including The Phantom Of The Opera, Les Misérables and Passion, takes on the role of the show’s friendly host Liam O’Deary. Fresh from Rock Of Ages, Simon Lipkin joins I Can’t Sing to play Barlow, the dodgy sidekick of contestant Chenice, who will be played by the previously announced Cynthia Erivo. Joe Speare, who starred opposite Erivo in the Menier Chocolate Factory production of The Color Purple, teams up with her again in I Can’t Sing to play her iron-lung bound Grandad. Among the London regulars playing contestants in the show that takes a cheeky look at the television phenomenon that has brought us Shayne Ward, Leona Lewis and Alexandra Burke, are Katy Secombe, Charlie Baker, Shaun Smith and Rowen Hawkins. Written by Harry Hill, with music by the comedian’s TV Burp collaborator Steve Brown, I Can’t Sing follows Chenice as she feels her way through the UK’s favourite Saturday night talent contest.

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amateurstage | feature

> auditions a necessary evil

Love them or hate them, few productions ever happen without an initial audition process. Julian Cound looks into the murky world of the audition panel and shares the worries of those putting themselves forward. Having been on both sides of the audition room table one thing is for sure, those having to cast a show are just as nervous as those auditioning for a particular role, so we are starting on a level playing field. So, why is the audition panel nervous? Surely they have the ‘pleasure’ in watching people squirm as they take the long walk from the door into the centre of the audition room? For those of you who have not sat on an audition panel or cast a show before, getting your cast right is paramount. Your entire financial investment in the show depends on getting the right mix of people. The panel may know the strengths of some of those auditioning so are willing those auditionees to play to their strengths - but there’s no guarantees. Then you may have the one brilliant audition that turns the entire vision of the production on it’s head and the jigsaw puzzle gets completely mixed up again. Following on from my editorial column in this month’s magazine, I have to reiterate that auditions are never fair... if you have five people auditioning for one role, four people will end up disappointed. The successful person may not have done the best audition on the day - putting on a show is a marathon, not a sprint. A director has to see the ability but also the development opportunity in someone. It may even come down to your height - if the male lead is six foot two and you have a choice of capable leading ladies, one is five foot ten and the other is five foot one, which would naturally get the role? So often people ask me “What did I do wrong?” after auditions. My stock reply is “You did nothing wrong, you were just not the right jigsaw piece for that part” after which I go on to explain what it was the director was looking for. Standing in front of an audition panel - whether that be just the Director, Musical Director and Chairman, or a panel that includes the entire management committee, is always a daunting

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task for a performer - no matter how often they have been through it. One thing can really help the nerves - preparation! When someone walks into an audition room it is clear from that very moment if they have prepared or not. When asked if they want to do the lib or their vocal first, if their instant answer is “Oooh, I don’t really mind” you know they have not prepared. When they then spend five minutes discussing the piece with the readers-in you know they have not prepared. If you can not be bothered to prepare for an audition, why should a panel be prepared to cast you? Putting on any production in today’s economic climate is a risk. At an audition you have to prove to the panel that casting you will not be a risk. If you can do that then you have done as much as you can, the rest lies in that jigsaw puzzle.

If your group hold open auditions - ie your fellow society members are able to sit and watch the audition process, please use this as a learning opportunity, not a chance to cast the show as you see it and spend the following few days telling friends how hard-done-to they have been if they were not cast. Only the Director has the vision of their show in their mind. Watch and learn from those who have prepared their auditions. Simple tips can make such a difference - don’t over-do the action, don’t involve too many props but first and foremost - BE the character. If you are struggling with ‘finding’ a character there simply is no excuse. With the internet, youtube offers a million and one different variations on how to play almost every role in musical theatre history. Spend a little bit of your time researching - OK you will see so many poor renditions of the Soliloquy from Carousel, but maybe... just maybe you find something you can latch on to that helps you secure the role of Billy.

show diary | amateurstage

>show diary To get your productions listed here for free visit and go to the Diary Listings page - simples! JANUARY Lady In The Van, The The Miller Centre Theatre Company 02 - 11 January 14 The Miller Centre Caterham,Surrey 01883 349850 Last Minutes and Lost Evenings Gaberlunzie 03 - 04 January 14 Malvern Cube Malvern,Worcestershire 07583856009 Jack & the Beanstalk New Forest Players 08 - 12 January 14 Memorial Hall New Milton,Hants 0845 166 8775 Jack and the Beanstalk Jersey Amateur Dramatic Club 08 - 19 January 14 Jersey Arts Centre St. Helier,Jersey CI 01534 700444 Jack & The Beanstalk Pantomine Company 08 - 01 February 14 Concordia Theatre Hinckley,Leicestershire 07528 231379 Cinderella Rainhill Musical Theatre Company 09 - 12 January 14 Rainhill Village Hall Rainhill,Merseyside 0151 292 4458 www.rainhillmusicaltheatrecompany. Ali Baba The Oxted Players 10 - 18 January 14 Barn Theatre Oxted,Surrey 01883 724852

Puss in Boots Broxbourne Theatre Company 10 - 18 January 14 Broxbourne Civic Theatre Hoddesdon,Herts 01992 441946

Beauty and the Beast Chester Theatre Club 18 - 25 January 14 Chester Little Theatre Chester CH1 3HR,Cheshire West 0844 870 0887

Jack and the Beanstalk The Concorde Players 22 - 25 January 14 Concorde Club Cranford, Hounslow,Middlesex 020 8513 2000

Cinderella St. Giles Pantomime Society. Pontefract 13 - 18 January 14 Pontefract Town Hall Pontefract,West Yorkshire 07563 952832

Bus Stop Keighley Playhouse 20 - 25 January 14 Keighley Playhouse Keighley,West Yorkshire 07599 890 769

Aladdin Handswoth & Hallam Theatre Co. 22 - 25 January 14 THE MONTGOMERY THEATRE SHEFFIELD,SOUTH YORKSHIRE 07586 293546

Dracula the Panto! Action Community Theatre Co. 15 - 18 January 14 The Terry O’Toole Theatre North Hykeham,Lincolnshire 01522 883311

Sitting Pretty The Maskers Theatre Company 21 - 25 January 14 The Nuffield Theatre Southampton,Hampshire 023 8067 1771

Hay Fever The Tamaritans Theatre Company 22 - 25 January 14 Devonport Playhouse Plymouth,Devon 01752 606 507

Puss In Boots Waterbeach Community Players 16 - 18 January 14 Waterbeach Community School Waterbeach,Cambridgeshire 01223 880023

Sleeping Beauty The Watson Players 21 - 26 January 14 Guildhall Theatre Derby,Derbyshire 01773 882774

Beauty and the Beast Lowestoft Players 25 January - 2 February 14 The Marina Theatre Lowestoft,Suffolk 01502 533200

Sleeping Beauty Knutsford Little Theatre 16 - 25 January 14 Knutsford Little Theatre Knutsford,Cheshire 01565633000

Yeoman Of The Guard, The Abbots Langley Gilbert & Sullivan Society 21 - 25 January 14 Watford Palace Theatre Watford,Herts 01923 225671

Why Me? Loughton Amateur Dramatic Society 16 - 18 January 14 Lopping Hall Loughton ,Essex 07552 736 110 Dick Whittington Thringstone Pantomime & Drama Society 17 - 25 January 14 Thringstone Community Centre Thringstone,Leicestershire 01530 834575

Mother Goose NWTAC 22 - 25 January 14 The Bath House Theatre Manchester,Lancs 07866 378 569 Creation of the World & Other Business , The Proscenium 22 - 25 January 14 Compass Theatre Ickenham,Middlesex 07508 350950

Entertaining Angels Altrincham Little Theatre 26 January - 1 February 14 Altrincham Little Theatre Altrincham,Cheshire 0161 928 1113 Jesus Christ Superstar Southampton Operatic Society 28 - 01 February 14 The Nuffield Theatre Southampton,Hampshire, SO17 1TR 023 8067 1771 jesus-christ-superstar

FEBRUARY Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-theMoon Marigolds, The Chesil Theatre 01 - 08 February 14 Chesil Theatre Winchester,Hampshire 0844 8700 887

Keighley Playhouse - Christmas Belles | 45

amateurstage | show diary Volunteers PADOS 03 - 08 February 14 PADOS House Manchester,Lancashire 0161 773 2033

Die Fledermaus Thrapston Plaza Opera 18 - 22 February 14 Thrapston Plaza Thrapston, Kettering,Northamptonshire 01832 733586

Princess Ida Godalming Operatic Society 27 February - 1 March 14 The Leatherhead Theatre Leatherhead,Surrey 01252 703376

Hollywood Nights The Tinhatters 17 - 22 March 14 Concordia Theatre Hinckley,Leicestershire 01455 610010

Once Bitten The Miller Centre Theatre Company 06 - 15 February 14 The Miller Centre Caterham,Surrey 01883 349850

Drowsy Chaperone, The Southport Spotlights MTS 18 - 22 February 14 Southport Little Theatre Southport,Merseyside 07976 977058


Exorcism, The Riverside Players 18 - 22 March 14 Heswall Hall Heswall,Merseyside 08447 391296.

Why Me? The Rossendale Players 08 - 15 February 14 The Rossendale Players Waterfoot, Rossendale,Lancashire 01706 228720

Princess Ida Godalming Operatic Society 18 - 22 February 14 Borough Hall, Godalming Godalming,Surrey 01252 703376

Annie Arbroath Musical Society 11 - 15 February 14 The Webster Memorial Theatre Arbroath,Angus 01241 435800 Snake in the Grass Burnley Garrick Club 12 - 15 February 14 ACE Centre NELSON,Lancashire 01282 661080 Secondary Cause of Death The EK Rep Theatre 12 - 15 February 14 The East Kilbride Village Theatre East Kilbride,South Lanarkshire 01355 261 000 Plaza Suite Woodford Players 14 - 15 February 14 Woodford Community Centre Stockport,Cheshire 0161 292 2420 Unoriginal Sin New Theatre Players - Studio Production 15 - 16 February 14 Concordia Theatre Hinckley,Leicestershire 01455 611604 Mikado, The Hinckley Community Guild AOS 17 - 22 February 14 Concordia Theatre Hinckley,Leicestershire 01455 847676

Vackees, The Garden Suburb Theatre 18 - 22 February 14 Lund Theatre, University College School London,London 020 7723 6609 Little Mermaid, The The Launton Village Players 20 - 22 February 14 Cooper School Bicester,Oxforshire Jack and The Beanstalk GDS Productions 20 - 22 February 14 The Brook Theatre Chatham,Kent 01634 338338 Making Money Studio Theatre 20 February - 1 March 14 Studio Theatre Salisbury,Wilts 01722 342860.

The Drowsy Chaperone Scunthorpe Amateur Operatic Society 03 - 08 March 14 The Plowright Theatre Scunthorpe,North Lincolnshire 0844 8542776 Madness of George III, The New Theatre Players 04 - 08 March 14 Concordia Theatre Hinckley,Leicestershire 01455 613345 Accrington Pals Lindisfarne 04 - 08 March 14 Palace Theatre Westcliff,Essex 01702 351135 Importance of Being Earnest, The Keighley Playhouse 10 - 15 March 14 Keighley Playhouse Keighley,West Yorkshire 07599 890 769 Pirates of Penzance, The Southampton Uni Light Opera Society 12 - 15 March 14 Nuffield Theatre Southampton,Hampshire 023 8067 1771

Footloose Epsom Players 19 - 22 March 14 Epsom Playhouse Epsom,Surrey 01372 742555 Deathtrap Knutsford Little Theatre 19 - 22 March 14 Knutsford Little Theatre Knutsford,Cheshire 01565633000 Sawston One Act Drama Festival Sawston Drama Festival Organisation 20 - 22 March 14 The Marven Centre Sawston,Cambridgeshire 01223880023

Deathtrap The Miller Centre Theatre Company 13 - 22 March The Miller Centre, Caterham,Surrey 01883 349850

Deep Blue Sea, The Altrincham Little Theatre 23 - 29 March 14 Altrincham Little Theatre Altrincham,Cheshire 0161 928 1113

Southern Counties Drama Festival SCDF 24 February - 1 March 14 Barn Theatre Oxted,Surrey 01959 561811

Carrie’s War The Young Oxted Players 14 - 15 March 14 Barn Theatre Oxted,Surrey 01883 724852

Crucible, The Burnley Garrick Club 26 - 29 March 14 ACE Centre NELSON,Lancashire 01282 661080

Office Party, The Cosmopolitan Players 25 February - 1 March 14 The Carriageworks Leeds,West Yorkshire 0113 224 3801

Honour Chester Theatre Club 15 - 22 March 14 Chester Little Theatre Chester CH1 3HR,Cheshire West 0844 870 0887

Thoroughly Modern Millie Eldorado Musical Productions 26 - 29 March 14 Bob Hope Theatre Eltham,London SE9 5TG 0208 850 3702

To get your production/publicity photos published for FREE simply email them to

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Oliver! Encore Productions 19 - 22 March 14 The Brindley Theatre Runcorn,Cheshire 0151 907 8360

show diary | amateurstage Misanthrope, The Chesil Theatre 29 March - 5 April 14 Chesil Theatre Winchester,Hampshire 0844 8700 887 Oliver Twist Studio Theatre 31 March - 3 April 14 Studio Theatre Salisbury,Wilts 01722 342860.

APRIL Grease DarlingtonOS 02 - 12 April 14 Darlington Civic Theatre Darlington,Durham 01325 244659 Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me Woodford Players 03 - 05 April 14 Woodford Community Centre Stockport,Cheshire 0161 439 7535 Lie Of The Mind, A Loughton Amateur Dramatic Society 03 - 05 April 14 Lopping Hall Loughton ,Essex 07552 736 110 Death And The Maiden Lighted Fools Theatre Company 03 - 05 April 14 The Mill Studio, Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford Guildford,Surrey 01483 44 00 00 Romeo and Juliet NWTAC 03 - 05 April 14 The Bath House Theatre Manchester,Lancs 07866 378 569 Barber of Seville, The Stanley Opera Company 04 - 12 April 14 Concordia Theatre Hinckley,Leicestershire 01455 848194 Music Man, The Lewes Operatic Society 07 - 12 April 14 Lewes Town Hall Lewes,East Sussex

01273 480127 Drowsy Chaperone, The Erewash Musical Society 07 - 12 April 14 Duchess Theatre Long Eaton ,Nottinghamshire 01332 875350 Acorn Antiques - The Musical ELODS 08 - 12 April 14 The Wyllyotts Theatre Potters Bar,Herts 07770 871 140 Pirates of Penzance, The Oxted Operatic Society 08 - 12 April 14 Barn Theatre Oxted,Surrey 07530 528094 Die Fledermaus All Souls’ Amateur Operatic Society 08 - 12 April 14 The Playhouse Halifax,West Yorkshire 01484 721617 Witches of Eastwick, The Bath Operatic and Dramatic Society 08 - 12 April 14 Theatre Royal Bath Bath BA1 1ET,Somerset 01225 425509 Jesus Christ Superstar Slough, Windsor & Maidenhead Theatre Company 08 - 12 April 14 Theatre Royal Windsor Windsor,Berks 01753 853888 Sweeney Todd PADOS 08 - 12 April 14 The Met Bury,Lancashire 0161 761 2216 Annie The Lyric Club 08 - 12 April 14 The Kings Theatre Glasgow G2 4JN,Central Scotland 0844 871 7648

Tale of Two Cities, A Durham Musical Theatre Company 08 - 12 April 14 GALA Theatre Durham City,Durham 03000266600 Salad Days CADOS Chingford 09 - 12 April 14 Mornington Hall N Chingford,London 02085244380 Stepping Out New Forest Players 09 - 12 April 14 Ballard School New Milton,Hants 0845 166 8775 Oliver! Sidcup Operatic Society 09 - 12 April 14 Bob Hope Theatre Eltham,London 020 8301 2681 Whisky Galore The EK Rep Theatre 09 - 12 April 14 The East Kilbride Village Theatre East Kilbride,South Lanarkshire 01355 261 000 Oliver! Monmouth Music Theatre 10 - 12 April 14 Haberdasher’s Monmouth School for Girls Monmouth,Monmouthshire 07712960029 Damn Yankees Ripley & Alfreton MTC 14 - 19 April 14 Alfreton Grange Arts College Alfreton,Derbyshire 01773 745082 Copacabana Southampton Musical Society 16 - 19 April 14 Theatre Royal Winchester Winchester,Hampshire 01962 840440 Anything Goes Northavon Youth Theatre Company 16 - 19 April 14 Armstrong Hall Thornbury,South Gloucestershire 07980543691

Easter Festival of Full Length Plays 19 - 25 April 14 Gaiety Theatre Douglas,Isle of Man 01624 600555 Picture of Dorian Gray, The The Miller Centre Theatre Company 24 April - 3 May 14 The Miller Centre, Caterham,Surrey 01883 349850 Gang Show Hinckley District Scouts 24 - 26 April 14 Concordia Theatre Hinckley,Leicestershire 01455 847676 Johnny Belinda Keighley Playhouse 28 April - 3 May 14 Keighley Playhouse Keighley,West Yorkshire 07599 890 769 Jesus Christ Superstar Worthing Musical Comedy Society 29 April - 3 May 14 Connaught Theatre Worthing,West Sussex 01903206206 Ten Times Table Guildburys Theatre Company 30 April - 3 may 14 Electric Theatre Guildford,Surrey 01483 444789 Annie Jersey Amateur Dramatic Club 30 April - 10 May 14 Jersey Arts Centre St. Helier,Jersey CI 01534 700444

MAY All Shook Up Forest Musical Theatre Company 01 - 03 May 14 Kenneth More Theatre Ilford,Essex, IG1 1BT 02085534466 Monty Python - And Now For Something Completely Different New Theatre Players - Studio Theatre 03 - 04 May 14 Concordia Theatre Hinckley,Leicestershire 01455 611604

DarlingtonOS - Strictly Musicals | 47

amateurstage | show diary Hello Dolly! Hinckley Concordia AOS 06 - 17 May 14 Concordia Theatre Hinckley,Leicestershire 07855 746520 Thouroughly Modern Millie Battle Light Opera Group 08 - 10 May 14 Battle Memorial Halls Battle,East Sussex 01424 211140 Price, The Chesil Theatre 10 - 17 May 14 Chesil Theatre Winchester,Hampshire 0844 8700 887 Lark, The Chester Theatre Club 10 - 17 May 14 Chester Little Theatre Chester CH1 3HR,Cheshire West 0844 870 0887 Titfield Thunderbolt, The Studio Theatre 12 - 17 May 14 Studio Theatre Salisbury,Wilts 01722 342860. May One Act Play Festival The EK Rep Theatre 12 - 17 May 14 The East Kilbride Village Theatre East Kilbride,South Lanarkshire 01355 261 000 High Society Winchester Operatic Society 13 - 17 May 14 Theatre Royal Winchester Winchester,Hampshire 01962 840440 We’ll Always Have Paris Riverside Players 13 - 17 May 14 Heswall Hall Heswall,Merseyside

08447 391296. La Belle Helénè Lyme Regis Operatic Society 13 - 17 May 14 The Marine Theatre Lyme Regis,Dorset DT7 3QA 01297 443382 Oliver! Radlett Light Opera Society 13 - 17 May 14 The Radlett Centre Radlett,Herts 01923 859291 Gaslight The Oxted Players 14 - 17 May 14 Barn Theatre Oxted,Surrey 01883 724852 39 Steps, The Burnley Garrick Club 14 - 17 May 14 ACE Centre NELSON,Lancashire 01282 661080 Bedfull of Foreigners, The Altrincham Little Theatre 18 - 24 May 14 Altrincham Little Theatre Altrincham,Cheshire 0161 928 1113 Mikado, The The Cotswold Savoyards 20 - 24 May 14 Everyman Theatre Cheltenham,Gloucestershire 01242 572573 Natural Causes Knutsford Little Theatre 21 - 24 May 14 Knutsford Little Theatre Knutsford,Cheshire 01565633000

Up Pompeii Cosmopolitan Players 21 - 24 May 14 The Carriageworks Leeds,West Yorkshire 0113 224 3801 Romeo & Juliet The South Devon Players theatre company 22 - 31 May 14 Chestnut Heights Community Centre Brixham,Devon 07855 090589 Moonlight and Magnolias The Miller Centre Theatre Company 22 - 31 May 14 The Miller Centre Caterham,Surrey 01883 349850 Chorus of Disapproval, A Garden Suburb Theatre 22 - 24 May 14 The Bull Theatre Barnet,Barnet 020 7723 6609 Blitz! Northampton Musical Theatre Company 28 - 31 May 14 Cripps Hall Theatre Northampton ,Northamptonshire 01604 258666

JUNE Privates On Parade Theatre Fundraising Production 02 - 07 June 14 Concordia Theatre Hinckley,Leicestershire 01455 847676 Shakers NWTAC 05 - 07 June 14 The Garage Theatre, Manchester,Lancs 07866 378 569 Teechers Keighley Playhouse 09 - 14 June 14 Keighley Playhouse


Keighley,West Yorkshire 07599 890 769 Playboy of the Western World Loughton Amateur Dramatic Society 12 - 14 June 14 Lopping Hall Loughton ,Essex 07552 736 110 Big The Musical Chris Brown 16 - 21 June 14 The Athenaeum Theatre Glasgow,Strathclyde 0141 332 5057 Rise and Fall of Little Voice, The The EK Rep Theatre 18 - 21 June 14 The East Kilbride Village Theatre East Kilbride,South Lanarkshire 01355 261 000 Sweeney Todd Southampton University Light Opera Society 18 - 21 June 14 Annex Theatre Southampton,Hampshire 02380 595205 booking Miss Saigon School Edition Concordia Youth Theatre 19 - 28 June 14 Concordia Theatre Hinckley,Leicestershire 07551 047555 The Vicar of Dibley Encore Productions 25 - 28 June 14 The Brindley Theatre Runcorn,Cheshire 0151 907 8360 Far from the Madding Crowd The Miller Centre Theatre Company 26 June - 5 July 14 The Miller Centre Caterham,Surrey 01883 349850

show diary | amateurstage JULY ONWARDS Dazzle. A Musical Space-tacular Knutsford Little Theatre 03 - 05 July 14 Knutsford Little Theatre Knutsford,Cheshire 01565633000 Real Thing, The Chester Theatre Club 05 - 12 July 14 Chester Little Theatre Chester CH1 3HR,Cheshire West 0844 870 0887 Three Musketeers, The Chesil Theatre 08 - 12 July 14 Outdoor Production, in gardens of Wolvesey Palace Winchester,Hampshire 0844 8700 887 EMUs Showcase Erewash Musical Society Youth Group 10 - 12 July 14 Duchess Theatre Long Eaton ,Nottinghamshire NG10 1EF 01332 875350

Ladies Day Studio Theatre 10 - 19 July 14 Studio Theatre Salisbury,Wilts 01722 342860. Winter’s Tale, The Garden Suburb Theatre 11 - 19 July 14 Little Oak Wood Open Air Theatre Hampstead Garden Suburb,London 020 7723 6609 Richard III Bournemouth Shakespeare Players 15 - 26 July 14 Priory House Garden Christchurch,Dorset 01202534776 Oh What a Lovely War New Forest Players 16 - 19 July 14 Ballard School New Milton,Hants 0845 166 8775 Wedding Singer, The Southampton Musical Society

24 - 27 September 14 Theatre Royal Winchester Winchester,Hampshire 01962 840440 Oh What a Lovely War Lewes Operatic Society 01 - 04 October 14 Lewes Town Hall Lewes,East Sussex 01273 480127 Witches of Eastwick, The Erewash Musical Society 06 - 11 October 14 Duchess Theatre Long Eaton ,Nottinghamshire 01332 875350 South Pacific Northampton Musical Theatre Company 28 October - 1 November 14 Royal & Derngate’ Northampton 01604 624811 Annie Hinckley Concordia AOS 04 - 15 November 14 Concordia Theatre Hinckley Hinckley,Leicestershire

07855746520 Oh! What a Lovely War Winchester Operatic Society 11 - 15 November 14 Theatre Royal Winchester Winchester,Hampshire 01962 840440 Mystery of Edwin Drood, The Battle Light Opera Group 04 - 06 December 14 Battle Memorial Halls Battle,East Sussex 01424 211140 Guys and Dolls Hinckley Concordia AOS 05 - 16 May 15 Concordia Theatre Hinckley Hinckley,Leicestershire 07855746520 Aspects of Love Erewash Musical Society 05 - 10 October 15 Duchess Theatre Long Eaton ,Nottinghamshire NG10 1EF 01332 875350

Dollar Drama Club - Hound of the Baskervilles | 49

amateurstage | curtain call

>my top five We’d like to invite you to contribute your ultimate list of plays or musicals. Tell us what you like about them and why they hold a place on your ultimate list. Email your choices and reasons to:

Stephen Beeny is the Head of Music for JemmThree, a 24/7 digital radio station devoted to musical theatre. In his spare time he is heavily involved with London amateur theatre group Sedos. Find out more at and @StephenBeeny

1 2 3 4 5 50 |

Ragtime An epic musical about the birth of modern America that is extremely moving and delivers its powerful message of tolerance through a wondrous score by Ahrens & Flaherty and a book by Terrence McNally. I was lucky enough to see the huge original Broadway production (UK productions haven’t come near to equalling this vision) and loved it so much I flew to San Francisco to catch the tour!

Into The Woods I saw the original London production at the Phoenix Theatre way back in 1990 and it blew me away with its dark undertones and emphasis on the original Grimm fairy tales. I can still vividly remember the wooded wallpaper, huge cuckoo clock and collapsing doors. It was quite unlike anything I had seen, or have seen, before. Remarkable.

Jesus Christ Superstar Andrew Lloyd Webber is often frowned upon by musical theatre snobs but this energetic and stripped back telling of the last week of Jesus’ life proves what a great composer he truly is. Passionate, moving and still remarkably fresh 40 years on.

Kiss of the Spider Woman Kander & Ebb’s brutal, prison musical is a terrifying mix of torture and showbiz glamour that takes you to the edge and then pulls you back with big production numbers. At its heart is the moving story of a gay man who fights for respect and finds it on his own terms. It is, perhaps, the natural heir of La Cage Aux Folles (which would be my sixth choice!).

Pal Joey I’m a big fan of Rodgers and Hart and this evocative show about a manipulative small-time nightclub performer is full of romance, sex, broken hearts and the seedier side of life. Plus, there’s that score – ‘Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered’, ‘Zip’ and ‘I Could Write a Book’.

E f f e c t iv e Imme d ia t e ly


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As dec 13 issuu  
As dec 13 issuu  

December issue of Amateur Stage Magazine