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June 2019

Our next show - "Stepping Out" by Richard Harris - is one we're sure you'll love. 

It won Evening Standard Best Comedy Award when it was first performed in 1984, and enjoyed a hugely successful West End run in 2017. It's even been made into a film starring Liza Minelli and Julie Walters but we like the stage version best!

"Stepping Out" is a warm and very funny play about the lives of a group of women (and one man) attending a weekly tap-dance class in a dingy North London church hall. As the play progresses, we learn more about the individual dancers, their lives and their secrets, while the class's dancing improves to such an extent that by the climax, a grand charity show performance, they have been transformed into triumphant tappers, worthy of any chorus line.

We performed the show 20 years ago and two of the original cast members are in our new production: Mike Mear is reprising his role as Geoffrey while Sue McPhee has "graduated" from Sylvia to Dorothy. You can see a rehearsal photo below.


Performances are: Tuesday 25th - Saturday 29th June at 7:30pm each evening plus Saturday matinee at 2:30pm

You can now choose your own seats when you book online - click HERE - or if you'd rather book in person, please contact:

The LTC Box Office: 01283 542446 or
Brewhouse Box Office: 01283 508100
JESUS CHRIST SUPERSHOW!!
Our Easter Youth production was widely acclaimed, and if you couldn't get a ticket to this almost sold-out show, this review, which we have shortened, from the Burton Mail makes it clear just what you missed! 

"It's got attitude, it's emotional and it's a Superstar of a show!

Not one to be missed!

A night of emotion, dramatics and amazement is guaranteed as a production of Jesus Christ Superstar comes to Burton.

The opening night performance of the well-loved Broadway and West End hit went off without a hitch on Tuesday, April 23 ahead of a week of performances at the Brewhouse Arts Centre.

Originally written as a rock opera concept album, its upbeat songs and lively dance numbers recount the final seven days of Jesus Christ and those around him.

Performed by LTC Youth, the enigmatic and encapsulating performances from Joel Foster as Jesus of Nazareth and Oliver Last as Judas Iscariot were outstanding. The show couldn't have wished for better leading men. Both Joel and Oliver have amazing voices and tremendous stage presence.

Directed by John Bowness, the musical features zero dialogue, instead telling the tale of Jesus' final days and Judas' inner struggles through song and danceEasily one of the highlights of the performance, which is certain to live long in the memory of those who see the show, is the plethora of catchy musical numbers including "What's the Buzz?", "Everything's Alright", "Hosanna" and "Could We Start Again Please?"

Among this amazing score, perhaps the best-known number is "I Don't Know How To Love Him" which has won numerous awards. In this production it was sung by Emmie Doyle who was excellent."

OH POOR PETE!
 
Unfortunately the real "Jesus Christ Superstar" casualty was neither Joel (Jesus) nor Ollie (Judas) but our much loved set builder and ASM Pete Banton. One of his many onerous duties in the show was to help Jesus get down from the cross right at the end of the show. Unfortunately, at one of the dress rehearsals, Jesus fell a bit quicker than planned causing Pete to trip over Mary Magdalene and fall heavily. Rushed to A&E, our brave Pete didn't initially feel any pain but instinctively knew something was up. He admits it was difficult to explain to the Paramedics and A&E staff that he had tripped over Mary Magdalene while trying to save Jesus from the Cross. He was subsequently told he had a torn patella tendon which required an operation and several weeks in plaster and then a knee brace. Get well soon Pete!
STAGE MANAGING JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR

With daughter Katie as Musical Director, Karen Hailstone volunteered again to be Stage Manager. She writes:

"What's the phrase? ' Never work with children or animals'. Last year l added 'palm trees' to that, having been Stage Manager for "South Pacific". So this year JCS was going to be a doddle, there was nothing to do, apparently. 

Apart from at the 11th hour l was handed a tiny remote control to operate the swing doors, and all the drawbacks that go with that kind of technology. A to open, B to close, okay simple. But press hard or nothing happens. Hope this battery lasts the week: doors used 20 times each performance! Careful not to inadvertently set doors in motion by picking remote up with thumb in the 'action - stations' position. 

All this taken on board, the main hurdle was the first and most important opening of said doors: the reveal of Jesus at the beginning during the amazing Overture. Get it timed right for the great atmospheric effect. Too late and the moment would be lost.

So, first night all set, ears on stalks for music cue, thumb in position. Listening for the end of the 4 electric guitar chords and bingo!  Only there was this sudden blackout for added effect, couldn't see a thing, held my breath til my eyes could pick out any door movement til, phew, wow, there he was."

 
WELL DONE KAREN!

Said doors are pictured below with Ben Winson and Dan Tunks busy building the set while Mark Pearson looks on, in an "I'm trying to look important" kind of way.
 

Our November show will be "Scrooge the Musical", which tells Charles Dickens' classic story of the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge who, after a creepy Christmas Eve facing the ghosts of his past, his present and his frightening future, is transformed and his love of Christmas restored.

In 1970 the renowned writer-composer-lyricist Leslie Bricusse adapted the Dickens tale into the hit screen musical "Scrooge!" which starred Albert Finney. Described by critics as a "smash hit, timeless, feel-good show" its score, packed with fabulous  songs including "I Hate Christmas", "Happiness", "I'll Begin Again" and "Thank You Very Much", was nominated for an Academy Award but (curiously) lost out to the Beatles "Let it Be".

Twenty two years later Bricusse spent several months adapting the screenplay for the stage, with Anthony Newley bringing the character to life in its premiere at the Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham. The role was later played, on tour and at the London Palladium by Tommy Steele.

Tickets will be available in August.

For this edition we've gone right to the very top with LTC Chairman Peter Clemson answering the questions! He is pictured above back in 1974, with Barbara Cooper, in his very first LTC production, "The Enquiry" playing the part of the Reverend John Shillitoe.
 
  • You work so very hard for the Little Theatre Company, investing so much time and energy, while working full time. Why do you do it?
 
I joined the Senior Drama Group of the Little Theatre (now LTC) in 1974 so am now into my 45th year. Since joining, I don’t believe I have missed a production or a performance (whether in a production or not) so I have to say that LTC is ingrained in me, part of my DNA and I cannot imagine life without it. It can be challenging but is definitely worth all the effort.
  • What gives you the greatest satisfaction about the LTC?
I’ve always thought theatre should be a shared experience between audience and all elements of the production. My greatest satisfaction has been trying to encourage this ethos and watching LTC grow into the company it has become today.
  • What’s been your favourite LTC production and why?
It’s difficult, having been around for so long. to pick a favourite but, if pushed, I would have to go for our first "Les Mis" in 2009. We took on something which seemed so ambitious, a massive risk and, hopefully, pulled it off. People may not be aware of what an emotionally charged show this was for all those involved in it – so many of the cast and crew in tears at the end of the run – so many friendships forged which have stood the test of time and a landmark production for LTC.
  • Do you have a special LTC moment? And what was it?
Again there have been many but one that stays with me was the final performance at the Little Theatre in 1990. At the end of our last performance of “Rebecca” we had no speeches but simply drew the Little Theatre curtains (in silence) for the final time very, very slowly as we said goodbye to our home of so many years. Again, many tears.
  • Have you ever had a really scary moment in an LTC show? And what was it?
Lots but here are a few:-
  1. When we were asked to re-open the Brewhouse in December 2006, following the fire, with our production of “The King and I” – the lighting board failed minutes before curtain-up with an audience full of local dignitaries and invited guests. Of course, Matt, with his usual ingenuity, rescued us by rigging up another board just in time!
  2. When Tom Kounnas dislocated his collarbone part way through Act One of “Joseph” – paramedics had to be called and a heroic Sam Pearson took on Tom’s role as Pharaoh in Act Two.
  3. When Barbara Hicken was taken ill in 2003 weeks before she was due to play the title role in “The Killing of Sister George” and I had to go on in her place – that was probably the scariest actually but I did it for Barbara.
  • Is there a particular show you’d like the LTC to do in the future – assuming absolutely everything was available?!
I would love us to do “War Horse”
  • Where do you see the LTC in 10 years time?
I hope we continue to grow and improve. Theatre is always about learning – if you think you know everything about it, then it’s time to give up.
That, plus I would like to see national recognition for the LAFTAs!!
  • What’s been your favourite production you’ve seen in the theatre?
That’s really tough as I have seen a lot over the years:-
PLAY – "The Lady in the Van" with Dame Maggie Smith
MUSICAL – "Miss Saigon"
 
  •  And your favourite film/movie?

I’m not really a film fan, although I do enjoy the current cult of screened live theatre performances. I’d always go for old films, if I had a preference, either before my time or from my youth, so I would find it hard to choose between “Goodbye Mr Chips” (1939) or “Mary Poppins” (1964).
  • Which part in which play/film would you most like to perform/ have performed?
I’ve been very lucky over the years to have played most of the parts I could ever have wished to play. The only role I can think that I would love to have played, but haven’t is Emile De Becque in “South Pacific” .
  • Favourite Actor?
Robert Donat (I know nobody will have heard of him but just refer to my favourite films and, of course, our June show next year “The 39 Steps”)
  • Favourite Actress?
Maggie Smith
  • From the world of film and theatre, now and in the past, who are the six people you’d invite round for dinner?
I might have a preference for serious drama onstage but,  at my dinner table, I would definitely go for amusing company so here goes:

Alan Bennett
Victoria Wood
Frankie Howerd
Julie Walters
Kenneth Williams
Beryl Reid
 

 
Congratulations to Liam Atton whose very moving short film "Passing Time", which he both wrote and directed, has been shortlisted out of hundreds of films for the Beertown Film Festival in Burton, the Cefalu film festival in Italy and Nexus film festival in Nottingham where it’s also been nominated for an award for best score/soundtrack. LTC's Sam Pearson was responsible for the cinematography and you can spot a number of other LTC members, including the "star" Mike Mear, by watching the film HERE.

Liam says that it’s an idea he’s had for ages. He just had an image of the camera following an interesting old man sitting on a bench listening to a brass band at a funeral. The premise of after life has always intrigued him. Liam had only one day to shoot the film and says the day was “chaotic”. Several of the actors couldn’t stay long, light was an issue, it rained and was cold, and then the church bells went off every 15 minutes! However, spirits were high and fun was had by all.

 

BURTON SWANS
 
Tilley Bancroft is project managing a super new creative initiative in Burton: Burton Swans.

This is an exciting quest to find 25 dazzlingly-different, decorated swan sculptures, which, designed by talented artists and sponsored by local businesses and organisations, will make themselves at home on Burton’s streets and in its open spaces for just 10 weeks from July 2020.  This exciting project - a first for Burton - will bring together schools, businesses, community groups, established and emerging artists.


You can hear Tilley talking about the project by clicking HERE

 
StageScreen Musical Theatre Associates are preparing for their end of season showcase on July 20th at The Brewhouse. The audition-only Musical Theatre group is currently made up of students between the ages of 9-18. There will be a variety of songs, dances and dialogue from a real mix of musicals including Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, Bend it Like Beckham, Mary Poppins, Will Rogers Follies, Mean Girls, Billy Elliott and many many more! Principal Heather would like to see some friendly faces in the audience to support the very first season showcase! Heather also needs at least 5 more backstage helpers if anyone is free to help with props, microphones, sound and with chaperoning students to and from the stage. Please get in touch with Heather, if you would like to volunteer, at Info@stagescreen.co.uk

Auditions.... the next Season of MTA will be auditioning over the summer - head on over to https://stagescreenmta.co.uk/ to read more about fees and audition dates. Performances and competitions have already been booked in for the 2019/2020 season.

(Pictured above are MTA students with West End director Andy Reiss who delivered a Musical Theatre workshop them in May.)
Many congratulations to the lovely Emmie Doyle who has recently announced her engagement to Chay after he proposed in Greece last month. They met at a New Year's Eve party in 2015. He was her New Year's kiss and the rest is history!

When you're busy getting ready for a show in the dressing room or backstage, it's easy to forget the front of house team, selling programmes and acting as stewards, a critical role should there be an emergency. Equally, after the (rapturous!) applause at the end of the show, few realise the stewards are busy with their black bin bags picking up all the rubbish left in the auditorium. They also have to deal - not infrequently - with difficult audience members who think it's okay for their small child to stand up on their seat blocking the view of the people behind, rustle noisy sweets during the quiet bits or take photos from their phone or tablet. 

This is, therefore, a little tribute to Janet Plummer who can't remember just how long she's been supporting LTC in this role. It's certainly over 20 years and probably nearer 30. It seems that Mike Mear, a regular customer at her sweet stall in Burton Market, persuaded her to lend the LTC a hand, and Janet's been to each show ever since. She is normally there, working as front of house/steward for each and every performance. She's worked out that programmes get passed on, so selling lots on Tuesday and Wednesday nights is critical. Janet is also responsible for a lot of ticket sales and can usually sell between 10 and 20 tickets per performance.


Thanks Janet and all the other stewards and front of house staff for all your hard work!

 
RIP DORIS DAY
 
No one, surely, was sadder in Burton to hear of the passing of  Doris Day, albeit at the grand old age of 97, than LTC member Mike Mear, who writes:

"Many of you know what a huge Doris Day fan I am and her death has evoked many memories of her work and life.
My  first recollection of seeing one of her films is the 1953 film  "By the Light of the Silvery Moon".  My mother was an ardent filmgoer and at the age of 7 probably felt it was safe to take me to the cinema. I was enchanted with the film and with Doris. 

The next time I saw Doris was in 1953 in "Calamity Jane". I loved this film and "Whip Crack Away" was the song I remembered most.

So my love of Doris Day began. When I was 15 or maybe 16 I joined the British Doris Day Fan Club. We had a Quarterly Journal bringing all the news about Doris.  There was a page where you could place your name to request a pen pal and I became pen pals with Wendy Braunfeld in New York. She was two years younger than me and we regularly wrote to one another about Doris and our different lives on the opposite sides of the Atlantic. 57 years later we still write, mostly emails, and we speak on the phone to exchange birthday and Christmas greetings. We've met on several occasions both in the UK and in USA. 

Much later the Doris Day Society started in the UK and the organisers arranged annual get-togethers. Over the years Doris donated many signed items to be auctioned and I was lucky enough to get some signed posters, photos and items, some of which are pictured below.

My favourite films are "Love Me Or leave Me", "Calamity Jane", the films with Rock Hudson and mostly the films where she sang and danced.  My favourite song is more difficult to choose as Doris recorded over 650 songs, but perhaps it is ‘It's Magic" from Doris’s first film, one of the songs they played and showed clips of on the day she died."
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