It’s a Wonderful Cast

There’s just a month to go until our next production, It’s a Wonderful Life!

As previously mentioned on this very blog, the “radio on stage play” format will be something rather different.  We won’t be having a fully detailed set, preferring instead a simple backdrop.  All of the cast will be on stage for the entire time, most of them playing several characters distinguished only by voice and the cunning use of hats.  Alongside the actors, two sound effects artists will be creating sound effects live on stage.  It promises to be a show like none we have ever done before!

It will also be something different for those of us taking part.  As Nicola, one of the stars of the show, put it,

“This radio stage play appealed as it was challenging in a different way: the script was near (in case of emergency memory lapse) but there is nowhere to hide, either in character costumes or set and scenery! Also the challenge of trying to produce 3 different American accents….”

And now, ladies and gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure to introduce to you the cast for our Autumn 2018 production, It’s a Wonderful Life!


RossRoss

George Bailey

Ross most recently starred as chef Larry Tuthill in Secondary Cause of Death (2018), where he was also assistant director.  He has featured in several BaCStage pantos, and has also 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).


KevinKevin

Clarence (Angel, 2nd class) / Mr Davis (Shareholder)

Kevin is best known to BaCStage audiences for his panto roles and as long-suffering Constable Thomkins in Murdered to Death (2014).  He is a prolific performer with several local groups ranging from panto to passion plays, has appeared in Shakespeare at The George, in radio plays for Radio Cambridgeshire and had a major role in a radio soap airing three times a week.


JessJess

Mary Hatch

Jess is also well known for her panto roles, most recently as Colette in Beauty and The Beast (2017).  She played Shirley in In Need of Care (2015) and Rose Maybud in Virtue Triumphant (2016).  Her latest role was as nurse Ann Parsley in Secondary Cause of Death (2018).


NicolaNicola

Superintendent of Angels / Ellie (Taxi driver) / Dr Campbell (Shareholder chair) / Carter (Bank Examiner)

Nicola has played a diverse range of roles for BaCStage including amateur sleuth Joan Maple (Murdered to Death, 2014), Joan’s sinister sister Cynthia Maple (Secondary Cause of Death, 2018), vampish spy Lola (Night at the Brick Museum, 2015) and domineering match-maker Deborah (Deborah’s Party, 2013).  She also co-directed 7 Ages of Man (2016).


RonRon

Uncle Billy (George’s uncle) / Martini (Bar/café owner) / Town Sheriff

Ron is chairman of BaCStage and regularly directs or acts in our productions as well as undertaking a wealth of behind-the-scenes activities.  His many directing credits include both Murdered to Death (2014) and Secondary Cause of Death (2018).  His most recent acting role was in Beauty and the Beast (2017), which he also directed.


LukeLuke

Mr Potter (warped, old financier) / Officer Bert (Local cop) / Toll taker / Radio announcer

Luke has played a variety of roles, most notably Inspector Pratt in Murdered to Death (2014) and Secondary Cause of Death (2018).  He has also tried his hand at directing with Night at the Brick Museum (2015).


JaneJane

Ma Bailey (George’s mother) / Mrs Hatch (Mary’s mother) / Zuzu (George’s 5 yr old daughter) / Clara (Bank teller)

Jane has been involved in the group since its inception as “The Millennium Players” (1997), appeared in the debut production of sketches and a short play (February 1998), and then directed a short play Captain Blackboot’s Island (summer 1998).  Since then she has been involved in most productions including sourcing costumes and prompting as well as acting and directing.


BeckyBecky

Violet Bick (Easy girl) / Janie (George’s 8 yr old daughter) / Bank teller / Impatient Neighbour / Mrs Thompson (Shareholder)

Another long-standing member, Becky has played countless roles in BaCStage plays and pantomimes.  She is unique in the group as being the only actor to be murdered in both Murdered to Death (2014) and Secondary Cause of Death (2018).


TomTom

Nick (Bartender / bar owner) / Sam Wainwright (George’s successful businessman friend) / Harry Bailey (George’s brother) / Charlie (Shareholder) / Young George (10 yr old)

Tom is another best known for his panto roles, including the Beast in Beauty and The Beast (2017) and Dick in Dick Whittington (2015).  He also featured in Virtue Triumphant (2016), In Need of Care (2015) and 7 Ages of Man (2016).


AlanAlan

Pop Bailey (George’s father) / Gower (Pharmacist / drunk) / Mr Welch (Angry husband) / Randy (Shareholder)

New to the Bluntisham area, Alan is determined to make his mark on the local stage and has chosen BaCStage to be his launch-pad to the stars.  Good luck with that, Alan.


CarolCarol

Cousin Tilly (Loan office clerk) / Petey (George’s 9 yr old son) / Eddy (Shareholder)

Carol has been BaCStage secretary for many years, but rarely ventures out on stage.  She most recently trod the boards during our 7 Ages of Man world tour in 2016.


Jason

Jason

Sound Effects Artist

Jason designs the lighting and sound for all of our shows, operating them as well when he isn’t up on stage.  His most recent acting role was as Colonel Charles Craddock in Secondary Cause of Death (2018).  It’s a Wonderful Life offers Jason a rare opportunity to combine his on-stage and behind-the-scenes personas into one.


Gordon

Gordon

Sound Effects Artist / Jimmy the birdJimmy

Gordon is a key member of BaCStage’s ‘back stage’ team, in set construction and stage management.  He claims to “not do acting” but is very happy to stand in for missing actors at rehearsals.  Along with Jason he will be creating the sound effects for It’s a Wonderful Life live during the show, his most prominent on-stage role to date.


JoJo

Musical accompaniment – Vocalist

Jo has musically directed and appeared in several BaCStage Pantomimes as “Principal Boy”.  She has also worked behind the scenes as Make-up Artist.  Jo and Roger have performed in concerts together for 18 years and have raised money for charities including Breast Cancer Care and EACH at Milton.


RogerRoger

Musical accompaniment – Pianist

Roger has accompanied singers in Cambridgeshire for over 25 years as well as working with local instrumentalists.  He sings with and conducts the choir of St John the Evangelist, Hills Road, Cambridge.  This is Roger’s first ever performance with BaCStage and we are very pleased to have him on board.


PeterPeter

Director

Peter has been a member of BaCStage since its inception and before that its predecessor the Millennium Players, joining in 1998. During his time Peter has progressed from a few lines, to leading roles and directing a number of plays for BaCStage. This production of It’s a Wonderful Life was initially suggested by Peter and he is delighted to bring it to fruition.


It’s a Wonderful Life
~ October 18th – 20th 2018 ~
Bluntisham Village Hall

~ o O o ~

Tickets on sale soon

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Sound Men

These two are two sound men.

Sound Men

You might be looking at that picture and thinking that they look decidedly unsound.  You may also be wondering why they are manning a bric-a-brac stall at a church fete (other denominations, including the absence thereof, are available).

A load of old toot

This though, is the sound effects table for our next production, It’s a Wonderful Life.  While the actors are doing their thing on one half of the stage these two gentlemen will be creating most of the sound effects live on the other half of the stage, using a varied assortment of items, and that is what makes them “sound men”.

They won’t be creating all of the sound effects.  We are not, for example, allowed to park an actual 1940’s taxi in the village hall, nor are we allowed to break a couple of actual windows per performance.  It is also not possible to authentically recreate the sound of a man hurling himself off a bridge into the raging torrent below, in the midst of a howling gale, without contravening more Health and Safety regulations than you could shake a stick at, the shaking of said stick adding an extra H & S violation.  Tricky.

Among the sounds they will be creating, live and without a safety net, are: family dinner time, shop door bell, a variety of doors opening, closing, locked and being bolted, an old-fashioned type-writer, a mynah bird shaking its feathers, ice cracking, walking through snow and a naked woman in a hydrangea bush (these are sound effects only, remember).

Sound effects with menacesWe are told that the baseball bat is also needed purely for the creation of sound effects, but one can’t help wondering whether it is a desperate ploy on the part of the director to corral the acting talent into learning their lines and not larking about during rehearsals.  Only time will tell.

Back to our “sound men”; how will they be creating all of these sound effects live on stage?  We don’t have to wait long to find out.  They will be performing these audible marvels in less than two months, when It’s a Wonderful Life takes to the stage.  There will also be some acting, and some singing too – fear not though, our “sound men” will not be attempting to harmonize at any point during the show!

Sound.

It’s a Wonderful Life
~ October 18th – 20th 2018 ~
Bluntisham Village Hall

Listen very carefully… we have Wonderful news!

It’s been a bit quiet round BaCStage Towers lately.  We have mostly been melting in the heat.  You know the heat wave has gone on too long when even the trashy papers can’t be bothered with headlines about it being hotter than Rio / Madrid / Mallorca / Mordor / the centre of the sun / the fires of hell / my pants (delete as appropriate).

However, lack of outward signs of activity does not mean we haven’t been busy.  Besides wilting, and avidly following / avoiding / ignoring the recent World Cup (remember that?) we have been busily working on our next two – yes, two! – productions.

A timeless classic, with a twist

Firstly, after successful auditions in June we have cast It’s a Wonderful Life for our Autumn 2018 production.  Rehearsals started last week, and we’re delighted to welcome another newcomer, Alan.  The full cast will be published here soon.

It’s a Wonderful Life, based on the timeless classic Frank Capra film, has been adapted as a “radio on stage” play by Tony Palermo.  The performance focuses on the voice characterisations of over 30 characters by just eleven actors, so most of us will be doubling, tripling or even quadrupling up on the number of parts we play.  Will we be able to pull it off?  Come along in October to find out!

An English farce with a European story line

Looking further ahead, in April 2019 we are planning a production of ‘Allo, ‘Allo.  Written by Jeremy Lloyd and David Croft, the same authors as the hit TV show, the stage version of ‘Allo ‘Allo plays like a feature-length, “greatest hits” version of the sitcom featuring favourite characters – and jokes – that made it such a big success.  It is also very timely – what could be more appropriate as our first post-Br*x*t production than an English farce with a European story line?

We will be holding open auditions for ‘Allo ‘Allo in November (once we’ve completed It’s a Wonderful Life) with a view to casting it before Christmas* and starting rehearsals early in the new year.

Social media in “positive outcome” shock

In more good news, we’d like to thank Manda for coming forward and volunteering to help us with our treasurer vacancy after seeing our advert on that there internet.  Thank you Manda!

Stay tuned for more details on all things BaCStage…


* apologies for using the C-word in early August, and for using the B-word at all, in any context, ever.

BaCStage needs your help: Treasurer and DIY-ers wanted

BaCStage Needs You!BaCStage are looking for a new treasurer to look after our finances for us.  Previous experience of book-keeping would be useful but not essential.  Our current treasurer, Jane, would like to hand the role over to someone else to give her more time for the various other things she does for us.  She is more than happy to help bring the new person up to speed.

We are also looking for some DIY-ers to help us with the ongoing project of maintaining our home, the Old Day School in Bluntisham.  As you may know, the ODS is a Victorian building and as such it is old and a bit crumbly round the edges (like some of our actors – yoof Ed).  Our next day of cleaning, tidying, painting, decorating and general maintenance is on Saturday August 11th and any help will be much appreciated.

If you can help us out with either our books or our maintenance we’d love to hear from you – leave us a comment here or on our facebook page, or mail us at bacstage.amdram@gmail.com.

What’s in it for you?  Well, along with the warm fuzzy feeling you’ll get from helping out your local am-dram group, you will also become part of the BaCStage social circle which ranges from regular post-rehearsal pub trips to the Green Man in Colne to the more ambitious adventures we sometimes undertake.  Those of us who “do” BaCStage do it for the drama, and also for the socialising.  In case you’re wondering, helping us out behind the scenes doesn’t mean you’ll be press-ganged into getting up on stage but if you ever decide you fancy trying a bit of acting, you’ll be in the perfect place!

 

 

Auditions this week!

We’re holding auditions for our next production, It’s a Wonderful Life, this Thursday evening at 7:30pm at the ODS.

What?!  Don’t you people know there’s a World Cup on?  It’s England v Belgium on Thursday night!  What were you thinking of, having your auditions then? – Sports Ed.

Fear not sports fans, for we have a second audition on Saturday morning at 10, also at the ODS.

Both are open auditions – anyone is welcome to come along.  Don’t worry if you don’t know the story or what part you might play – Peter the director will tell you all about it and suggest roles you might be interested in.

We hope to see you there!

It's a Wonderful Life

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.

DSC_3491
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.

2B0A9419
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.

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

Bluntisham and Colne Stage Group