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Newsletter December 2017

All members are invited to our Annual General Meeting which will take place at the Brewhouse at 7pm on Saturday 6th January 2018. As usual, this will be followed by the glitz and glamour of our tongue-in-cheek LAFTAs ceremony to which all patrons, members and their families are warmly invited - but please do bring a plate or two of savories or desserts along for our customary bring and share buffet!

This is an opportunity for us to remember and celebrate our 2017 productions, which of course included.........

Our November production was dedicated to the memory of Betty Gibbs – actress, student, member of staff and governor of the former Burton School of Speech and Drama. We were delighted that members of her family were able to attend, and are very grateful for a substantial amount which was donated to the company in her memory.

The show was great fun to perform and received some fantastic reviews, such as this from Caroline Kay writing in the Burton Mail:

There is excellent comedy timing by the entire ensemble and Katie Haywood was born to play the part of Joyce Chilvers. Add this in the mix with excellent musical accompaniment by a top-notch band and, again, first-class direction by John Bowness, then what have you got? You've got a mighty fine show!"

The show is a real gem with some top-tapping, humming tunes – and I defy anyone not to walk out of The Brewhouse Arts Centre singing 'Betty Blue Eyes'.

However, because the town officials turned down Gilbert's application to open his own surgery, he takes himself off to the farm where Betty is being reared and hot foots it home with the pig with hilarious consequences.

'Jobsworth' meat inspector Mr Wormold (Rob Tunley) is on the prowl and ready to shut down and lock up any butcher circumventing food rationing. In fact, he is looking to arrest anyone who gets in his way, so the pig – our heroine Betty Blue Eyes – is being kept hidden courtesy of Farmer Sutcliffe (Pete Banton) before she is set to become the centrepiece for the feast to celebrate the Royal Wedding.

Gilbert is a chiropodist and Joyce has high expectations for him to open his own business. However, the town officials Mr Allardyce (Phil Robinson), Mr Lockwood (Tim Robinson) and Dr Swaby (Peter Clemson) have other ideas. They are too busy planning to feather their own nests and have a secret which will make their banquet, the banquet to end all banquets – a pig!

In the northern town of Shepardsford, residents are planning a banquet dinner to celebrate the marriage of Princess Elizabeth and Prince PhilipThe tale follows a bunch of eccentric characters including Gilbert Chilvers (Leon Ratcliffe) and his wife Joyce (Katie Haywood) – along with her mother 'who is 74 and ravenous' (Karen Hailstone).

Performed by Burton's own Little Theatre Company, the show is based on Alan Bennett's play and 1984 film A Private Function. Set in 1947 and, having won the war, Britain seems to have lost peace, and the country is staggering under the burden of acute rationing, unemployment and the coldest winter for decades.

Some productions are crowd pleasers – Oliver! and Oklahoma to name but two, but I am always intrigued to pop my bum on a seat and watch something completely new – and Betty Blue Eyes is just that. Fresh, funny and fab-u-lous!

I've been wowed by Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, brushed tears away from my cheeks at Les Misérables, and laughed until my sides have ached at Little Shop of Horrors and Avenue Q.

I am rarely disappointed with any amateur dramatics show which is performed in Burton, and over the last few years have seen some absolute gems.

"Fresh, funny and fab-u-lous!


Performing on-stage for Betty Blue Eyes was the wonderful Billy Caroll's Band, conducted by LTC Musical Director Katie Hailstone who writes:

"As musical director for LTC I teach the principal and chorus members their vocal parts for all our musical productions. For our most recent production ‘Betty Blue Eyes’ I also had the exciting task of recruiting musicians to play as live accompaniment for the show, and had great fun conducting them during show week.
The score for Betty Blue Eyes is based on music from the 1940s era, so ranged from sentimental ballads to swinging jazz, including a very fast-paced jitterbug! The music was complex and demanding, and being a musical only recently made available to the amateur market I had to recruit players of an excellent sight-reading and performing standard.
Due to the limited space on the Brewhouse stage I had to cut down the number of players from 11 to 7 without losing any key elements of the music. I narrowed it down to piano, drums and bass (the core elements of a band), with brass and saxophone as these played a key part of 1940s jazz bands (and also help give the ‘wow’ factor!)
Our talented musicians consisted of:
Peter Fairholme (piano and keyboard)
With the decrease of band size came the increase of demand for Peter’s playing. Peter provided the bulk of the accompaniment for the show, which ranged from playing ‘Für Elise’ on the piano (both awkwardly as Veronica and beautifully as Joyce) to the grand organ solo that accompanied the footage of the royal wedding. You’d be forgiven for thinking the band sounded much larger than its 7 members, as throughout the show Peter changed the voices on the keyboard to provide accompaniment of varying combinations including piano, string ensemble, accordion, guitar and vibraphone.
Clair Mott (flute, clarinet, alto saxophone and baritone saxophone)
The very versatile Clair played no less than four different wind instruments throughout the show. She had to have her wits about her when swapping between them because as well as all being different in size, they all require a different playing technique (and sometimes the instrument swap had to take place within a very short timeframe!).
Craig Stevens (trumpet, cornet and flugelhorn)
Craig got chance to show off all the key techniques required to be a brass player, including regal fanfares, soaring descants, mellow tunes and jazz improvisation. Punchiness to sound
Becca Pope (trombone and euphonium)
The second of the key brass parts, Becca provided some beautiful counter melodies on the euphonium, and enhanced the comedy of the show with the humorous slides and raucous ‘growl’ techniques written in the trombone part.
Dan Emery (bass guitar)
Dan provided a solid foundation for the rest of the band, and the part really came into its own during the fast upbeat numbers and the eerie underscores that made the nasty characters sound even more threatening.
Stephen Fraser (drums and percussion)
The percussion part does not feature particularly heavily in the score, but when it is included it is used to great effect. From soft ‘tings’ of the cymbal that added an ‘ahh’ factor during the poignant song ‘Magic Fingers’ to the military drumbeat proving a driving force behind ‘Another Little Victory’, Stephen had to play in a variety of styles. The highlight of Stephen’s performance was when he broke out into an impressive drum solo in the middle of the jitterbug song ‘Lionheart’ – the atmosphere in the auditorium was electric!
The band members thoroughly enjoyed playing for the show and would like to thank the Little Theatre Company for making them feel so welcome."

Rehearsals are already underway for our next LTC Youth production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's 'South Pacific', which will be performed next Easter at the Brewhouse. This multi-award winning musical features many well known songs including 'Younger than Springtime', 'I Wanna Wash That Man Right out of my Hair', 'Some Enchanted Evening' and 'There is Nothing Like a Dame'.

Who - over 50 - can forget the wonderful version of this last song, featuring well-known newsreaders, sports commentators and weathermen, on the 1977 Morecambe and Wise Christmas Special? You can still watch this again on YouTube and it's guaranteed to make you smile.

If you know any young men, aged between 15 and 19, and interested in drama and acting, who would like to join our squad of American sailors in the show, please ask them to email us for more information at

Tickets will be available in January 2018.

Every two years we put on a very special event especially for our Patrons and in 2018 this promises to be better than ever. We will be performing twice, on 9th and 10th March, so patrons - please keep these dates in your diary!

You can become a patron, giving you two FREE tickets to this event, for a minimum annual donation of £10. In return, your name will appear in all our theatre programmes and you will receive priority booking on tickets.

Local businesses can also become corporate patrons for just £25 a year. In return, they receive the same benefits as private patrons, plus a logo advert in all our show programmes and publicity online through the Corporate Patrons' page of our website.

If you'd like to become a Patron, please visit our website HERE
Two very talented LTC members - Wil Pearson and Ed Robinson - will be performing this month in two separate concerts at the Burton Brewhouse to get you into the Christmas spirit. 

Tickets are available at the Box Office on 01283 508100

If you can't make Wil's concert, you can buy a copy of his debut CD for £10. Please email Wil HERE to order.
The GEM Recitals concert will feature Edward Robinson (baritone) performing a variety of festive favourites alongside soprano Georgia Gardiner and pianist Hayley Parkes. This is guaranteed to make you feel really Christmassy!
Music runs in the Robinson family, and Ed's older brother Tim has just announced the launch of his new business - Tinpot Tunes - which carefully arranges, prints and delivers brass band music to bands across the UK. You can visit his website by clicking HERE. Even if you're not particularly interested in brass band music, the artwork - by our own Tilley Bancroft - is just brilliant.
Hats off to Heather Gallagher and Bill & Elaine Pritchard who braved the elements to sleep out in aid of the YMCA to support local homeless people. Along with 170 others they spent the night at the Pirelli Stadium, while 15 even braver souls slept in the graveyard at St Modwen's Church where they were totally exposed to the cold, wind and rain. So far, over £31,000 has been raised for this vital charity.

Elaine comments: "I’d say it was an amazing experience and I would recommend it to anyone. There were adults and children of all ages taking part and a real sense of camaraderie. Heather Gallagher and local musician Chris Baldwin led a sing-song (see photo below) before we settled down for the night."


LTC members have been busy elsewhere!

Ewan Bourne (on the right) recently played the lead role of Seymour in Ashby School's production of 'Little Shop of Horrors'......

......while Katie Ireland appeared in Sheffield University's 'Fiddler on the Roof', a show in which she appeared as a little girl in the LTC production back in 2008. Here she is today, in the red headscarf.....:

.....while, if you look carefully you can spot her here bottom left, right under Tevye's (Peter Clemson's) right hand back in 2008 (so cute!):


Meanwhile Roberto Storey is one of 18 young people from the area to have been chosen to perform in Derby Theatre's professional production of 'Peter Pan' which is on between December 2nd and January 6th. You can catch him as part of the production's Red Team on these dates:

Thursday 7th December 2pm, Saturday 9th December 1pm, Monday 11th December 2pm, Wednesday 13th December 10.15am, Thursday 14th December 2pm, Saturday 16th December 1pm, Monday 18th December 2pm, Thursday 21st December 2pm, Friday 22nd December 7.15pm, Sunday 24th December 11am, Tuesday 26th December 6pm, Thursday 28th December 1pm, Friday 29th December 7.15pm, Sunday 31st December 11am, Wednesday 3rd January 2pm, Friday 5th January 10.15am, Saturday 6th January 6pm

Here's his mention in the programme:


We've always thought of the LTC as a family, and we're delighted to welcome two new stars-in-the-making. October saw the arrival of two gorgeous baby boys, one for Jodie & Stephen Whitehead and another for Alex & Caitlin Gill. Many congratulations and best wishes to you all.

Jacob Stephen Whitehead made his entrance 16 days late on October 7th, weighing in at 7lb 11oz, while Zachary William Gill (in the stripes!) appeared a fortnight later, 10 days early and at 6lb 12oz.

(We hope they'll both manage to be on time when they appear on the Brewhouse stage! Cmon guys - timing is everything!)
Congratulations to Karen Hailstone (Mother Dear in Betty Blue Eyes) and husband Geoff who recently celebrated their ruby wedding anniversary in Sunny Seville. On their return they tucked into a delicious sticky toffee cake, made by daughter Katie, LTC's Musical Director.

Starlets is a new, fun, 45 minute acting, musical theatre and film class for 4-6 year olds on Saturday mornings. The classes will run from 9.00 to 9.45am every Saturday in term time.

As well as having LOTS of fun, children…
  • Enjoy storytelling, role play and acting classes to encourage social interaction, play and imagination.
  • Have the chance to learn new dance moves and put them into routines helping to improve rhythm whilst having fun.
  • Use their voice to learn new songs and enjoy communicating through music.
There are only 15 places available in this class though, so if anyone wants to reserve a place for a child, on a no obligation basis, they should contact Heather by clicking HERE.

There is also a prize draw for a Starlets place for the new term commencing January 6th. To enter, click HERE
Another mention for Katie Ireland - who played Eponine in the LTC Youth production of 'Les Miserables' earlier this year -  as she will be doing a tandem parachute jump next May in aid of The Mental Health Foundation. If you can spare a bob or two, you can sponsor here by clicking HERE 

This time we're NOT wishing you to break a leg, Katie!

Thank you for your support for Little Theatre Company.

Please keep in touch with us via any of our social media platforms, which you can visit by clicking on the icons below. You are also welcome to visit our website or email us. 
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Little Theatre Company · 377 Rosliston Road · Burton Upon Trent, Staffordshire DE15 9RJ · United Kingdom

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