It’s a Wonderful Life, being an actor

Our autumn production for 2018 is to be It’s a Wonderful Life, a “radio on stage play” adaptation of the classic movie.

Our regular reader will know that we planned to put this on last year but were unable to do so due to a lack of available acting talent at the time.  It’s such a good show though that we’re determined to make it happen this time round.

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Peter in Virtue Triumphant (2016)

We will be holding open auditions on June 28th and 30th at the Old Day School in Bluntisham. All are welcome to come along and read for a part.  No prior acting experience is necessary and you don’t need to prepare anything beforehand – just come along to the ODS, have a chat with Peter the director and meet some of us in a relaxed and friendly setting.  We’ll be reading excerpts from the script, chosen by Peter to showcase each of the characters in the play.  There may even be tea and biscuits!

All welcome – no experience necessary

You can mix the drinks for you and Sandra
Zoë and me in Breezeblock Park (2011)

Now, you might be thinking that this acting lark looks like fun but you’re not sure if it’s really for you.  I know I thought that before I joined BaCStage.  I saw several shows and was tempted to get involved but never quite got around to it until Zoë persuaded me to give it a try.  I made my stage debut in Breezeblock Park (having never done any acting before) and the rest, as they say, is history.  The only regret I have is that I didn’t get involved sooner.

Don’t just take my word for it though – here is what one of our newest members Gary had to say about his BaCStage debut as Count Puchlik in our most recent production:

Secondary Cause of Death was the first play or any form of acting that I’d done since 1986. Having never acted as an adult or worked closely with a group like BaCStage that regularly put on performances I didn’t really know what to expect when Luke invited me along to the ODS back in August.

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Gary as Count Puchlik, Secondary Cause of Death (2018)

You have all been so welcoming, patient, supportive and amazing to work and be with. There was never any criticism from anyone only suggestions or alternative ways of performing, delivering a line, moving on stage or interacting with another character. It was always done with positivity and encouragement. I couldn’t have asked for anything more or anything better.

It’s now been 3 days since we departed Bagshot House and I find myself on a Tuesday with an huge empty hole where it once stood. This has been a fantastic experience and I feel completely deflated now that we’re no longer meeting for rehearsals or performances. I walked into Cambridge at lunchtime today and went through my lines, not out loud as I’d probably be arrested, but I really miss Puchlik and the rest of the cast of characters in this play.

So, really all I wanted to say to each of you was THANK YOU for welcoming me into your family and for delivering what we and the audience agreed was a great show.

If you’d like a piece of that for yourself, come along and meet us in June!

It's a Wonderful Life

About It’s a Wonderful Life:

Starring James Stewart and Donna Reed and directed by Frank Capra, It’s a Wonderful Life first appeared in cinemas in 1946. Today it is considered a timeless classic, one of the most popular and critically acclaimed films of all time. Although not originally intended as a Christmas movie it has become synonymous with the festive season. It tells the story of George Bailey, a selfless man who dedicates his life to helping others in his home town of Bedford Falls. Events conspire against him until he concludes he’d be worth more dead than alive, and contemplates suicide. At this point his guardian angel Clarence intervenes to show him just how much he means to his family and friends and that his is truly a wonderful life.

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Above and below stairs at Bagshot House

Two weeks ago (already!) we completed our successful run of Secondary Cause of Death.  You can see photos of the production itself over in our production photos section.  Here are some pictures from behind the scenes before, during and after the show.

We’ve finally broken him, if not his sets.  Long-time set-builder and occasional gorilla Nick is retiring to the seaside.  This could well be the last BaCStage show he is actively involved in.  It is indeed the end of an era.

Nick

Nick’s construction legacy will live on, though.  We have many instructions to follow.  Whether this bunch of numpties is capable of following instructions remains to be seen, of course.

Numpties

You couldn’t run us off another dozen or so handrails before you go, could you Nick?

The pace on set-up day was relentless.

Setup daySetup day

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – tea does not drink itself.

Lady Isadora’s hair took almost as long to construct as the rest of the set.

Lady Isadora

We are sticklers for attention to detail at BaCStage including, on this occasion, authentic wartime hosiery.

Hosiery

It was a warm one on opening night.  Fortunately the BaCStage fan club was in attendance.

Fan club

Time for a little game.  Spot the ball?  No.  Spot the dog?  No.  It’s…

Spot the...

… spot the lighting engineer!  He’s in there somewhere.

Spoiler alert – the next couple of photos are plot-spoilers.  Even if you didn’t see the show, you might be able to guess from other posts and photos which plot points they are giving away.  If you did see the show and you still can’t work it out, I’ll leave it as an exercise for the reader…

It’s that “bloody” nurse again!

And now, dear reader, we face the final curtain – and what a curtain it is!  It takes seven people just to iron it!

The Curtain Gang 2018

It’s curtains for that lot, and indeed for this production.  A big “well done” to everyone involved, and an enormous “thank you” to everyone who has supported us.

Right then, time to get started on the next one.  More details coming very soon…

Voosh… no more Inspector Pratt!

The storm clouds gathered over Bagshot House on Saturday night but there was barely a drop of rain, much less the snow that features in the plot.  Subsequently it was another warm one for both our near-capacity audience and actors alike.

DirectorRon
Director Ron giving the customary end-of-show speech

We would like to say a big thank you to everyone who came to see Secondary Cause of Death across the three nights.  We couldn’t put on the shows we do without you.  We had bumper crowds each night, and if you had half as much fun watching as we had putting this show together then you’ll have had a jolly spiffing time.  Don’t worry if you lost the plot along the way – this Pratt still hasn’t worked it out!

So is that the last we’ll see of Inspector Pratt?  Not nessa…celery.

Pratt aficionados will already know that Murdered to Death and Secondary Cause of Death are the first two parts of a trilogy.  Part three, Death by Fatal Murder, takes place in the winter of 1940.  Pratt meets the new owner of the house, Nancy Allwright, and soon he is embroiled in more mystery, aided and abetted by Miss Maple and Constable Thomkins.  Upper-crust Ginny and Italian gigolo Enzo help with enquiries but danger soon looms with an unexpected arrival, and a frightening suggestion by Welsh busybody Blodwyn Morgan.

Never fear whilst a Pratt is near!

Hot stuff!

HotStuffIt was another warm one last night. If you were in the audience and feeling the heat, spare a thought for the actors – those stage lights push out more heat than a three-bar electric heater, inside an oven, in a glass house full of chilli plants on a hot sunny day… on fire. If the Inspector had fastened up his coat we’d have had boil-in-the-bag Pratt.  Still, it wouldn’t be Britain if we weren’t complaining that the weather was too hot / cold / wet / dry (delete as appropriate).

Whatever the weather, we’ll be doing it all one last time tonight.  It’s your last chance to find out who is the murderous miscreant of Bagshot House!


SECONDARY CAUSE OF DEATH
(the sequel to Murdered to Death)
by Peter Gordon
April 19th, 20th & 21st 2018 ~ Bluntisham Village Hall

Tickets still available

You can buy your tickets online at TicketSource

Book now
or in person at Bluntisham Service Station

Tickets are £8 in advance, or £8.50 on the door.

SecondaryCOD-18- Leaflet

One down…

OneDown

That’s one performance, not one murder victim – we have many more of those already!

Last night we opened our run with a successful, if rather warm, show.  Was it really only a month ago that we had weather much more appropriate for our wintery plot?

Come rain, snow, sleet, hail or unseasonal warmness, we’ll be doing it all again this evening.  Why not pack yourself a nice cold drink and come along and join us!


SECONDARY CAUSE OF DEATH
(the sequel to Murdered to Death)
by Peter Gordon
April 19th, 20th & 21st 2018 ~ Bluntisham Village Hall

Tickets still available

You can buy your tickets online at TicketSource

Book now
or in person at Bluntisham Service Station

Tickets are £8 in advance, or £8.50 on the door.

SecondaryCOD-18- Leaflet

Back in time for murder!

Welcome to Bagshot House, 1939.

BagshotHouse

We are taking you back in time to before WWII when Britannia ruled the waves and the upper classes ruled Britannia; when those below stairs knew their deferential place and those born into privilege sensed their own entitlement.  It’s the will of the people, don’tcha know!

ColonelCraddock
Colonel Craddock

Take Colonel Charles Craddock, for example.  He may appear to be an affable old duffer who only has a few marbles rattling about upstairs, but if he doesn’t like the cut of your jib he’ll take his twelve-bore to you and no mistake!

After the previous goings on at Bagshot House in Murdered to Death Colonel Craddock now owns the old pile and runs it as a hotel for the discerning guest – none of your riff-raff here.

Staying with the Colonel on this occasion are

 

CountPuchlik
Count Puchlik

Count Puchlik of Puszczykowo, a Polish Gentleman who has grave fears for the future of his people and his country in the face of Herr Hitler and his massed ranks of Panzers,

 

 

CynthiaMaple
Cynthia Maple

Cynthia Maple, who uses Bagshot House to stage murder mystery weekends based on the cases of her sister, local amateur sleuth Joan Maple,

 

 

CardewLongfellow
Cardew Longfellow

Cardew Longfellow, a thespian employed by Cynthia Maple to play a leading role in her latest re-enactment,

 

 

LadyIsadoraPollock
Lady Isadora

Lady Isadora Pollock, who read about the Bagshot House murder mystery weekends in The Times and simply had to be a part of one,

 

 

CaptainWoolmerCardington
Capt. Henrietta

and Capt. Henrietta Woolmer-Cardington, an ATS Officer dispatched by British Intelligence to assess Bagshot House’s suitability as a secret Ops centre should Mister Hitler start causing any trouble

 

The question is – are any of these people really who they appear to be?

Colonel_Nurse

Then there are Colonel Craddock’s domestic staff. Is Martha just the housekeeper, or is she keeping secrets from the rest of the household? What is Larry Tuthill cooking up in the kitchen besides the meals?  And what exactly is the nature of the relationship between Colonel Craddock and Nurse Parsley?

Pratt
Inspector Pratt

Last, and definitely least, there is Inspector Pratt. At least one of this ensemble is exactly what he appears to be.

The storm clouds of war are gathering over Europe.  Will this be Pratt’s finest hour, or will he make an even bigger mess of things than last time?  If you’re the discerning type, why not pay a visit to Bagshot House and find out?

Bagshot House opens its doors to paying guests tonight!


SECONDARY CAUSE OF DEATH
(the sequel to Murdered to Death)
by Peter Gordon
April 19th, 20th & 21st 2018 ~ Bluntisham Village Hall

Tickets on sale now

You can buy your tickets online at TicketSource

Book now
or in person at Bluntisham Service Station

Tickets are £8 in advance, or £8.50 on the door.

SecondaryCOD-18- Leaflet

We’ll meet again…

…but unlike Vera, we know where and we know when as Bluntisham Village Hall is transformed into Bagshot House for Secondary Cause of Death this coming Thursday, Friday and Saturday!

Set-up day was the usual hive of frenetic activity.

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If you stand around long enough, eventually someone will put a cup of tea in your hand.

While Ash and Ron tried to figure out what was missing from this door frame, Nick removed a large gnome from beneath the stage.

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We were pleased to see several of our younger members coming along to help with set-up.  Of course, teenagers being what they are, there was a fair amount of this going on.

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There were plenty of responsible adults around to set a better example.

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Not this particular adult, though.  Kids today, eh?

To be fair, the BaCStage Yoof did do a lot of useful work during set-up.  They also did things like this:

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…?  Me neither.

“Cut an inch off the top of that door” he said.  “How hard can it be?” he said.

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Sometimes the first cut is not the deepest.

Was there a sighting of a handrail?  Handrails are notoriously nervous and fickle beasts, no doubt because of the persecution they’ve suffered in recent years.  Even the most patient of photographers knows better than to wait around for one – much better to set up a camera trap overnight.

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We got one!

It’s been a year since we last erected the stage. At the time, Peter wrote some assembly instructions in permanent pen, then chalked in some instructions on how to use the instructions.

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Despite this, he still managed to glue himself to the stage. Nick had to resort to drastic measures to free him.

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If anyone finds Peter’s left foot, he’d like it back.

Thanks to everyone’s marvellous efforts we now have the stage set for a “killer” show:

Bagshot House

The last word goes to director Ron:

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Now for the village hall!  We do hope you can join us.


SECONDARY CAUSE OF DEATH
(the sequel to Murdered to Death)
by Peter Gordon
April 19th, 20th & 21st 2018 ~ Bluntisham Village Hall

Tickets on sale now

You can buy your tickets online at TicketSource

Book now
or in person at Bluntisham Service Station

Tickets are £8 in advance, or £8.50 on the door.

SecondaryCOD-18- Leaflet

Buy tickets in advance and get a free* entry in the raffle

Production week is here again!  The Bagshot House library, scene of the crimes in Secondary Cause of Death, is taking shape thanks to the tireless efforts of our set-builders.

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“When’s the raffle?”

Don’t worry, they know what they’re doing.  More on that in the next post.

Tickets for Secondary Cause of Death are on sale now, both online and also from Bluntisham Service Station.  You will also be able to buy tickets on the door, but the eagle-eyed amongst you may have spotted that if you buy your tickets in advance they are a little bit cheaper.

Secondary Cause of Death

See what I mean?

You may be wondering “why have they done that”?  Well, if you’re familiar with Blunty Village Hall you’ll know that there’s no permanent seating, so we put out tables and chairs for each show.  At our last production, kick-off was delayed as we hunted around trying to find more chairs.  So, the more people who buy tickets in advance, the better we know how many chairs to put out – simple as that.  If you buy two tickets beforehand, you’ll save a pound which you can then spend on raffle tickets!  Sorted.

Don’t worry if you do turn up on the night though, you will still be most welcome.  We’ll put out some extra chairs just in case.  As Oleta Adams once said, we don’t care how you get here, just get here if you can!  (As the water levels on the River Great Ouse have dropped in the past few days, getting here by sailboat may not be your best option – Travel Ed).


SECONDARY CAUSE OF DEATH
(the sequel to Murdered to Death)
by Peter Gordon
April 19th, 20th & 21st 2018 ~ Bluntisham Village Hall

Tickets on sale now

You can buy your tickets online at TicketSource

Book now
or in person at Bluntisham Service Station

Tickets are £8 in advance, or £8.50 on the door.

SecondaryCOD-18- Leaflet

Secondary Cause of Death – cast change

We have a change to the previously published cast for Secondary Cause of Death.  Unfortunately Mandy, who was to play Lily Tuthill the cook, has had to withdraw from the production.  Fortunately though, Ross has stepped in to play Larry Tuthill the chef.  Ross has been part of the production from the start as assistant director and so is already familiar with the story.  He did a fine job in his first full rehearsal this week, and so the show will definitely go on!.

The full cast is as follows:


Jason

Jason

Colonel Charles Craddock, retired

Jason is usually found at the back of the hall controlling the lighting and sound effects.  He took to the stage in Take Your Seats (2017), but this will be his first full-length acting role since playing Simon the vet in Deborah’s Party (2013), during which he perfected the “hand up a cow’s bottom” manoeuvre.


Luke

Luke

Inspector Pratt

Luke made his BaCStage debut in Breezeblock Park (2011) and has been difficult to get off the stage since.  He is delighted to be revisiting the role of Pratt that he first played in Murdered to Death (2014).  It has been described as his ideal role; he chooses to take this as a compliment.


The cow's bottom thing

Jason (r) and Luke in Deborah’s Party (2013).
Lift the tail, insert the hand, and …


Nicola

Nicola

Cynthia Maple

Nicola joined BaCStage in 2013 to take the title role in Deborah’s Party.  Since then she has featured in several productions as well as co-directing 7 Ages of Man (2016).  She is continuing her portrayal of the Maple sisters, having played Joan Maple in Murdered to Death (2014).


Lucy

Lucy

Capt. Henrietta Woolmer-Cardington, an ATS Officer

Lucy has appeared in several BaCStage pantomimes, most recently starring as Belle in Beauty and The Beast (2017).  She has also played Nurse Penfold in Hero (2014) and Rita in In Need of Care (2015).  In 2017 she made her directorial debut with Must We Go to Bluntisham?, our play for the Dorothy L. Sayers festival.


Gary

Gary

Count Puchlik of Puszczykowo, a Polish Gentleman

Gary is making his BaCStage debut in Secondary Cause of Death.  His past acting credit includes a production of The Real Inspector Hound, in which he played housekeeper Mrs Drudge.


DSC_2768

Nicola as Joan Maple in Murdered to Death (2014)


Ross

Ross

Larry Tuthill, Chef

Having started out in pantomimes Ross has become a familiar face in BaCStage productions.  He played Nobby in In Need of Care (2015), the Wicked Gravedigger in Virtue Triumphant (2016) and took several roles in 7 Ages of Man (2016) and Take Your Seats (2017).  He was already assistant director of Secondary Cause of Death before stepping in to play Mr Tuthill.


Julie

Julie

Lady Isadora Pollock

This will also be Julie’s first production with BaCStage.  She has appeared in several pantomimes with the Players of Earith, most recently as the Dame in Goldilocks and the Three Bears (2017).


Jess

Jess

Nurse Ann Parsley

Jess has appeared in our last two pantomimes, most recently as Colette in Beauty and The Beast (2017).  She played Shirley in In Need of Care (2015) and her honour was in peril as Rose Maybud in Virtue Triumphant (2016).


Becky

Becky

Martha Armstrong, Housekeeper

One of the longest-standing members of the group, Becky joined BaCStage (at a very young age) when we performed in black and white.  She has played a wide variety of roles, most recently several parts in Take Your Seats (2017).  She is also an example of our actor recycling policy, having been murdered to death in Murdered to Death (2014).


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Becky (seated) before being murdered to death in Murdered to Death (2014), along with Luke (l), Nicola and Kevin as Constable Thompkins


Jonas

Jonas

Cardew Longfellow, a Thespian

Jonas is also joining us for the first time.  He is best known in his native Scandinavia as “Floating Corpse 3 (face down)” in the Nordic Noir crime drama Grimmfjorden.  Since relocating to the UK, he has written and starred in an impressive number of one-man shows based on popular stage and screen titles including The Blues Brother, The Gun of Navarone, Star War, The One Amigo, Man In Black, Planet of the Ape, One Angry Man, A Dance With a Wolf, Snake on a Plane, Jaw, and his musicals Le Miserable, I Will Rock You, and Cat.


Ron

Ron

Director

Ron re-joined BaCStage in 2014 to direct Murdered to Death.  Since then he has directed two pantomimes, appeared in several productions, sourced a wide variety of props and last year became BaCStage chairman.  We’re not sure what he does in the afternoons.


SECONDARY CAUSE OF DEATH
(the sequel to Murdered to Death)
by Peter Gordon
April 19th, 20th & 21st 2018 ~ Bluntisham Village Hall

Tickets on sale now

You can buy your tickets online at TicketSource

Book now
or in person at Bluntisham Service Station

Tickets are £8 in advance, or £8.50 on the door.

SecondaryCOD-18- Leaflet

 

18 and counting…

18

18 dead deceased murdered copses?  That would be going some with a cast of only 10 characters.  Many secondary causes of death there…

18 days till opening night?  As it happens, at the time of writing there are, but we’re not having a balloon countdown every day.

An 18th birthday?  Could be – but who?  Is it Cardew, with the dagger?  (Don’t start that again – Ed)

It was in fact Captain Henrietta with the cake.  After three everyone:

Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday Captainhenriettawoolmercardington,
Happy birthday to you.

Now stop that and get back to rehearsals. We’ve got a show to put on in… how many days?

Bluntisham and Colne Stage Group