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June 2020

COVID-19 POSTPONEMENTS

After much deliberation, we have taken the decision (not lightly) to postpone all 2020 LTC productions until 2021. We feel this is the positive thing to do for the sake of the comfort, security and safety of our audiences, members and the Brewhouse staff and stewards upon whom we rely so heavily.

We strongly believe that live theatre should be a shared experience and, in the current climate, we have come to the conclusion that this is not realistically possible for the foreseeable future. We hope you will understand and we look forward to welcoming you once again in 2021.

 
There is a little theatre in all of us.

Our revised programme of events for next year is:

o March 9th to 13th 2021 – The 39 Steps
o April 6th to 10th 2021 – RENT
o June 22nd to 26th 2021 – Private Peaceful
o November 23rd to 27th 2021 – The Wind in the Willows

 
Please stay safe and well. We will meet again.
 
 
All of us at the Little Theatre Company are delighted to have won a £1,000 award thanks to nominations from the public. We're one of 500 winners in specialist insurer Ecclesiastical's 'Movement for Good' awards, which is giving £1 million to charities this summer. Members of the public were invited to nominate causes close to their hearts. 13,695 charities were nominated by an amazing 253,879 members of the public.

With the closure of all theatres from the West End to those in the local community due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many amateur performing arts groups are struggling from lost revenue and from unavoidable production costs due to cancelled performances in 2020.  LTC have had to reschedule all our planned 2020 productions for 2021 which means we have incurred extra costs associated with these changes, e.g. printing costs, set building, hire of props, costumes and wigs.  The donation from Ecclesiastical will make a huge difference to members and audiences and will allow LTC to move forward with our planned performances for next year with confidence.

Sincere thanks to Ecclesiastical and to all who nominated us.

"PRIVATE PEACEFUL" - OUR JUNE 2021 PRODUCTION

The talented Tim Robinson is delighted to have been invited to direct this wonderful play, which is sure to be a success with our audiences, even if you have to wait a year! Tim comments:
 

"In June 2021, LTC will perform Simon Reade’s play adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s novel, "Private Peaceful". I remember reading lots of Michael Morpurgo novels as a child; the stories of "Kensuke’s Kingdom", "The Butterfly Lion" and "War Horse" have stayed with me, but "Private Peaceful" remained the most vivid over time.

Morpurgo tells us that the story was inspired by a visit to Ypres In Belgium, where he was shocked to discover how many young soldiers were court-martialled and shot for cowardice during the First World War. 

It’s a moving story, spoken by Private Tommo Peaceful, reliving memories of a countryside childhood: his first few days at school, his adventures with his brothers, his growing friendship with Molly, working at the farm with Charlie, and the day a Recruiting Army Officer visited the village. It’s a story that focuses on friendship, family, love and loss. It portrays the senselessness of war and the significance of companionship.

For me, "Private Peaceful" is a wonderful story to be told on stage. It’s one of those plays that I’ve always wanted to be a part of, so I’m delighted that we’ve managed to get the performance rights. I‘m really looking forward to directing this show and working with our cast and crew, and I hope you’re looking forward to experiencing it for yourselves with LTC next June."

 

It's LTC Secretary Sue McPhee's turn to take centre stage, pictured above as Dorothy in our 2019 production of "Stepping Out".

What’s been your favourite LTC production and why?
That’s a tricky one!  I’ve loved all the roles I’ve played for a variety of reasons, but one of my favourites was playing Joy Gresham, the wife of CS Lewis in "Shadowlands". It was my first lead role and it’s such an emotional play made more so because it is a true story. 

Do you have a special LTC moment? And what was it? 
Getting the part of Jo in "Little Women".  "Little Women" was my all time favourite book as a young girl and Jo was my favourite of the four sisters.  To get to be Jo on stage was the realisation of a dream come true.

Have you ever had a really scary moment in an LTC show? And what was it? 
In "Dead Guilty", my character was poisoned by another character, but before she murdered me she grabbed me on one arm and held a pair of scissors to my throat with the other.  I always held my breath at that part of the play just in case 😉!!

Is there a particular show you’d like the LTC to do in the future – assuming absolutely everything was available?! 
Anything period drama as I love the costumes, and I’d really love to play the role of a villain or mad woman!

Where do you see the LTC in 10 years time? 
Hopefully we will have moved on from the Coronavirus pandemic and theatres and the arts will be thriving because people have realised how important they are for our mental health. 

What’s been your favourite production you’ve seen in the theatre? 
Love them all - the first show I saw in the West End was Noel Coward’s "Hayfever" which is such an hilarious play.  Absolutely loved it when we did it with LTC!

And your favourite film/movie? 
My all time favourite movie is "It's a Wonderful Life".  I love Clarence the angel!

Which part in which play/film would you most like to perform/ have performed?
I would love to play the role of Miss Havisham in Great Expectations.

Favourite Actor?
Alan Rickman

Favourite Actress?
Maggie Smith (sensing a Harry Potter theme here!)

From the world of film and theatre, now and in the past, who are the six people you’d invite round for dinner?
Victoria Wood, Norman Wisdom, Jimmy Stewart, Audrey Hepburn, Alan Rickman & JudI Dench.

 

WE WISH YOU WELL WIL

Wil Pearson has been busy during lockdown. Firstly he did two Facebook live concerts. The first one was "Live in the Living Room" and the second was "Live on the Drive". Both concerts in total raised over £800 for our wonderful NHS frontline workers. 
 
Secondly, he's released his first original song on Spotify and other streaming platforms. It’s called ‘I Wish You Well’ and can be heard on Spotify HERE


This is a review by A&R Factory, a music blog that started in 2012, which has become a well respected artist and repertoire blog and has been nominated as one of the top ten blogs in the UK and top 100 worldwide:

"Up and coming artist Wil Pearson has recently released his sultry feat of Easy Listening “I Wish You Well” which proves that he definitely isn’t your average crooner.

The contemporary twist which he puts on the timeless Jazz-infused style strips away the archaic connotations of the genre and replaces it with contemporary accessibility. If his meltingly magnetic vocals weren’t enough, there’s also a strikingly cinematic instrumental breakdown where the electric guitar and the brass battle to dominate the otherwise serene Bluesy soundscape. Mindblowing feels like an understatement. If you could imagine what it would sound like if Michael Buble, The Arctic Monkeys and Slash collaborated on a record, you might just get an idea of what is in store if you hit play on I Wish You Well."
 

Great review Wil - good luck.


WHEN THINGS DON'T GO ENTIRELY TO PLAN.....
 
John might not be happy with me for saying this, but the highlight of many a production is when you're on stage and things go wrong. One of the top attributes of a good performer and, equally, crew member is to be able think on their feet and rescue the situation without the audience knowing. All those who've experienced these situations, both onstage and backstage, will recognise that moment when your heart literally falls into your stomach.

Former LTC member Liam Atton has come up with a few of those moments from LTC productions you may well remember.

"A brilliant memory of mine is during a performance of LTC Youth's "Summer Holiday". It was a scene in which I only had a few lines. Suddenly I heard my own lines being spoken! I thought to myself "I'm sure they're my lines", looked over and Tim was saying them. We came off stage and he said "I hope you don't mind but i looked over at you a few lines before and you had gone day dreaming, completely zonked out and I knew you weren't going to say them". Just goes to show on stage we always have each others' backs.   
 
During LTC's "A Midsummer Night's Dream", playing Puck I didn't wear very much. It was basically a furry pair of shorts. I jumped up athletically into the air and delivered my "I go, I go, look how I go, swifter than an arrow from the tartar's bow" line quite beautifully (I thought). Just as I leapt up the button snapped on my shorts and they began to fall down. I  just about saved them and my dignity as I ran off stage. Katie, working frantically backstage, whipped them off and started to sew them up!
 
Another great moment was during the final performance of "The Lady in the Van" where Bethan slammed the van door so hard that it almost completely fell off its hinges mid scene (a quite serious scene if i remember). Stage Manager, Pete Banton, who'd had a walk-on part previously as a workman, threw on his work jacket and flat cap, picked up his wheelbarrow and came on to fix it and save the day. In the bar afterwards, several audience members asked us how we'd managed to get the door to fall off like that every night.
 
Props are just same. I remember a moment during "Once a Catholic" where I had to go on clutching a book and talk about it. I got on stage one night and just as I was about to mention the book, I realised I'd forgotten to pick it up off the props table. I had to improvise and make something up.  
 
It's always quite exciting dealing with these situations and getting out of the mess, making something up or thinking on your feet. That's one of the joys of live theatre: compared to film, anything can and does go wrong."

(In the photos above you can see Liam, clockwise from top left, in "Summer Holiday", "Once a Catholic", "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "The Lady in the Van".

HAPPY TIMES WITH THE LITTLE THEATRE COMPANY


Founder LTC member Jane German shares some of her happiest memories of LTC productions.

"Ok. Where to begin? 

Trollop...nun...floosie...soothsayer/madwoman...devoted wife...not so devoted wife...?

 

"The Sound of Music"...that's a very good place to start. (2012)

You know, I never mastered the art of donning a wimple. No matter what, throughout that production it was always lopsided or slipped over my eyes.How could I climb a mountain without being able to see? Well somehow I managed not to fall in any streams or trip up along the way. I loved playing that part alongside such a wonderful group of people, but the wimple problem turned me into a nervous wreck by the end of the week! As Mother Abbess my processional slow walk through the Abbey always had a wobble...I blame the wimple.
 

"A Chorus of Disapproval" - a comedy by Alan Ayckbourn. (1991)
Here I was playing opposite Peter in a play within a play. 
In brief...the plot: although married to the director (Ken Brown) who was directing "The Beggar's Opera" (in the play), my character is having a 'fling' with the newcomer to the group, the leading man, the aforementioned Peter. Did I mention 'loose woman' at the start?

Talking of 'liaisons' another saucy part was as Emilie in "Les Liaisons Dangereuses". (1995)

I needed a sexy bodice for the part of Emilie, a harlot (but a high class one!). Shopping online didn't exist back then, so a friend of mine made a very minimal elasticated 'body tube' I suppose you'd call it. Nothing like the liberty bodices I used to wear as a kid.

Great, just the job! That was all fine until, every night, I had to prostrate myself facing the audience in order to make the shape of a writing desk for Le Vicomte de Valmont (John Bowness) to write a letter. Despite my nerves, the elastic held firm I am pleased to say. Reputation (such as it was) intact!

Now then, now then, a rather unusual part as a 'soothsayer'. A term not in common usage these days but hang on, maybe a long time ago...in ancient Rome?

Up Pompeii! (2014) - a tribute to such a funny man, Frankie Howerd.

Rumbustious action all the way through! Poised on the edge of disaster and lying in the shadow of the mighty Vesuvius, the people of Pompeii don't know what's going to hit them. Senna the soothsayer foretells the future by gazing into her extremely large crystal ball which she always carries with her stuffed down her front. It even lights up! The crystal ball, that is.

It was such a fast moving plot I still feel breathless thinking about it.

There are so many more wonderful reminiscences to tell...better save those for another time."

(You can see Jane above, clockwise from top left in "A Chorus of Disapproval" with a very hairy chested John Bowness!), "Les Liaisons Dangereuses", "Up Pompeii and "The Sound of Music".)

 

So you run a performing arts school, and lockdown strikes. What do you do? Without your heart missing a beat you move it online, of course. Your students embrace it wholeheartedly and over the past 14 weeks not one week of tuition has been missed. Have a look at Heather Gallagher's video HERE

GEOFF THOMPSON - WAR TIME REMINISCENCES

Sincere thanks to Geoff for this heart-warming story

"My father died long ago when I was 10 but the recent lock-down has brought him back into the forefront of my thoughts. He has provided me with a valuable perspective on which to reflect on the current inconveniences and disruptions of my own everyday life and how they pale in comparison to what he must have endured as a WW2 POW.
 
Following his call up my father served initially in Abyssinia (present day Ethiopia) and then via Cairo onto the Western desert in Libya. He was captured at the fall of Tobruk in June 1942 and became an Italian POW. Whilst working as a forced labourer on an Italian tomato farm he managed to escape, went north to try to get to Switzerland but was recaptured by the Germans and sent to Stalag IVB. This was one of the largest prisoner-of-war camps in Germany, about 30 miles north
of Dresden.
 
My Mum, never one to let Hitler think he`d got the better of her, became a member of the POW committee at Burton Town Hall. One of their main aims was to raise funds to send Red Cross parcels overseas to POW camps. Mum's principle contribution, having been a local performer since her youth, was to organise what was then called a concert party troop. Hers consisted of a group of young Burton performers including, amongst others, two of my sisters and a cousin, calling themselves "The In-Betweens". The name came from the  song "I`m just an in-between" sung by the teenaged Judy Garland in the 1938 MGM film “Love Finds Andy Hardy”. They put on shows consisting of songs, dances and sketches at various venues in the Burton district and Mum sent the funds raised towards the Red Cross POW parcels scheme.
 
This photo is of my two elder sisters Pauline and Judy, performing in their gypsy costumes, and was sent to Dad in the POW camp to show him what they were doing back in Burton. The
reverse side of the photo clearly shows the rubber stamp mark of the Stalag camp censor. Dad treasured the picture and it eventually returned home with him following the camp's liberation by Russian forces in April 1945.
 
Judy died some years ago but Pauline is still very much with us and an enthusiastic patron of LTC. Our family were to attend a 75th anniversary commemoration of the camp's liberation organised by the Stalag IVB Association at the National Memorial Arboretum in July. Like so many other events this has now been postponed to 2021."

 
      A VIEW FROM THE STALLS
 
The new Les Miserables at the new Sondheim Theatre.
 
Steve, Fiona and I were lucky to see this back in January before the great Lockdown. Well, they were lucky. My credit card wasn't too amused.

We've been ardent Les Mis fans for a very long time. I was fortunate to have seen the very first UK production in London, complete with Colm Wilkinson and Michael Ball. Steve and Fiona performed in the first two LTC Youth productions, and we've seen the show multiple times, so you could say we are addicts. We were never NOT going to like this new professional production, which had the benefit of our very own LTC Ellie Holmes (who appears professionally as Ellie Ann Lowe) performing as the Factory Girl.

I have to confess that I didn't even notice the theatre refurbishment, even though I've been in the former Queens Theatre on numerous occasions. I'm sure it was lovely, but that wasn't what I'd gone to see. I was much more interested in seeing the show without the famous revolve.....how could it possibly work? Well, the answer is - perfectly. It wasn't missed for a moment. This was a Les Mis for the 21st century - darker, more violent, and with a speed that took your breath away. There have been stunning improvements in lighting in particular, and the set design, with its balconies and scenic video backdrops, brings wonderful movement and life to the show.

Jon Robyns was excellent as Jean Valjean - combining a very tough exterior with a wonderful tenderness. Brad Jaden (Javert) can do no wrong in my book - he is my go-to eye candy these days - and the hairs on the back of my neck stood suitably on end when he sang "Stars" - probably my favourite song from the show. One actor I'd like to single out, though, is Lily Kerhoas who plays Cosette. This part is a difficult "sing" and I have so often found that Cosettes sound too "operatic" for my taste. I think she's just perfect in this role.

It's so sad that it's not now due back on stage until 2021.

If you're even the teensiest little Les Mis fan, you might like to consider downloading the Staged Concert version at https://www.lesmis.com/concert. It's just £9.99 with a fiver of that going to charities. (Yes, got to confess that we saw this last September too.) Forget the word "concert". it was so beautifully staged, and with a cast to die for, that you really didn't miss the fact that it wasn't a full-blown theatre production. Matt Lucas and Katy Secombe are hysterical as the Thenardiers.
Bethan Waite
HOW YOU CAN SUPPORT THE UK THEATRE INDUSTRY

Our hearts go out to all those, including many former LTC members, who work in Theatre and the Arts. Despite so much talent, many earn very little in normal times, so are unlikely to have a lot of savings to fall back on.

There are ways in which you can support Theatre and The Arts:

Read

Articles which highlight the gravity of the situation

 

- Director Sam Mendes on how we can save our theatres: https://www.ft.com/content/643b7228-a3ef-11ea-92e2-cbd9b7e28ee6

 

- Cameron Mackintosh on why he can’t be opening Les Mis, Hamilton, and Mary Poppins until 2021:

https://www.whatsonstage.com/london-theatre/news/les-miserables-mary-poppins-hamilton-closed-2021_51791.html

 

- Facts and figures and an open letter to Rishi Sunak from the industry’s leading creatives: https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2020/jun/17/cultural-catastrophe-uk-theatre-faces-ruin-amid-coronavirus-crisis

 

Watch/Listen

Hear more about the state of the theatre industry and what help is needed

 

- Writer James Graham on Question Time: https://www.standard.co.uk/go/london/theatre/james-graham-question-time-theatre-investment-bailout-coronavirus-a4448256.html

 

- BBC Radio 4’s PM Programme to follow Nottingham Playhouse for 6 months to see how Covid-19 affects their future: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p08g2lkl

 

Donate

Regional producing theatres accepting donations if you’re able to support

 

- Derby Theatre: https://www.derbytheatre.co.uk/node/11015

 

- Nottingham Playhouse: https://www.nottinghamplayhouse.co.uk/support/curtain-up-appeal/

 

- Leicester Curve: https://www.curveonline.co.uk/news/help-support-the-future-of-curve/

 

- Birmingham Rep: https://www.birmingham-rep.co.uk/support-us/

 

- The Royal Shakespeare Company: https://www.rsc.org.uk/support/make-a-donation/

 

Petitions

Ways you can lobby government to support the theatre industry

 

- Provide financial support to performers and creators during the COVID-19 crisis https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/301903

 

- Offer more support to the arts (particularly Theatres and Music) amidst COVID-19: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/320711

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