AOS Barnum programme Autumn 2016


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Abingdon Operatic Society show programme for Barnum Oct 2016

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Tues 25 – Sat 29 October 2016 7:30pm Matinee - Sat 29 October 2:30pm The Amey Theatre Abingdon School, OX14 1DE


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Team Barnum ~ front row: Emily Vines; middle row: Chloe Kitching, Lucy Kitching, Grace Dodgson; back row: Lydia Wright, Neela Nee, Emma Woods, Oliver Barker Team Bailey ~ front row: Betty Lazarus, Vita Ruggiero; middle row: Hope Littlejohn, Grace Ruggiero, Toby Littlejohn; back row: Emma Johns, Lia-Anjali Lazarus


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Abingdon Operatic Society’s BARNUM Music by Cy Coleman Lyrics by Michael Stewart Book by Mark Bramble Originally produced on the Broadway Stage by Judy Gordon, Cy Coleman, Maurice and Lois F. Rosenfeld in association with Irwin Feld and Kenneth Feld. This amateur production is performed by arrangement with MusicScope and Stage Musicals Ltd of New York. Director - Joy Skeels Musical Director - Drew Cowburn Choreographer - Kerry Callaghan THERE WILL BE AN INTERVAL OF TWENTY MINUTES BETWEEN THE ACTS PLEASE ENSURE THAT ALL MOBILE PHONES ARE SWITCHED OFF The use of all cameras, video and audio equipment is prohibited PLEASE NOTE THAT SMOKING IS NOT ALLOWED ANYWHERE ON ABINGDON SCHOOL PREMISES, INCLUDING ALL OUTSIDE AREAS PLEASE NOTE THAT THERE ARE SOME LOUD EXPLOSIVE SOUNDS AND FLASHES IN THIS PRODUCTION Refreshments are available in the foyer conservatory


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Chairman’s welcome ~ Joy Skeels… Welcome to this performance of the The Greatest Show on Earth, Barnum. Ah, I know what you’re thinking: “is it really the greatest show on Earth?” Well, it’s certainly among my favourites and I hope from today onward it will be one of your favourites too. So let’s be fussy and say: “One of the Greatest Shows on Earth.” Of course, Mr Phineas Taylor Barnum himself would never have settled for such understatement. By nature he was more likely to go for the over-statement! So Joice Heth is the Oldest Woman in the World, Tom Thumb is the Smallest Man in the World, and Jumbo is the Largest Elephant in the World. They’re all appearing on stage in this show, so you can judge their merits for yourselves. It’s a great pleasure for me to welcome Drew Cowburn, our Musical Director for Barnum, making his debut with AOS. We’ve all enjoyed rehearsing with Drew and hope he will want to come back to us again. It’s also a pleasure to welcome back Kerry Callaghan as choreographer. She clearly enjoyed working on our last show, The Music Man, so much that she decided to have another go, despite also having to perform the role of Charity Barnum in the show. Those of you who follow the latest news from the Society may have noticed a change to our schedule. We were intending to perform Singin’ in the Rain next Spring, but we’ve found it hard to locate a system that can pump hundreds of gallons of water onto the Amey Theatre stage without flooding the auditorium. We briefly considered dropping the rain, but quickly realised that Singin’ in the Dry might not attract a good audience! So, instead we’re moving up Annie into the Spring slot while we continue searching for the necessary rain machine. This now means that, rather than a forecast of rain, Abingdon can expect that “the sun’ll come out tomorrow!” Last but not least, I’d like to thank John Nye, who stepped down as chairman of AOS in May, for all his work over the years. We all understand that he was due a well-deserved rest, but we hope he’ll soon be joining us again onstage or in the orchestra pit. 2


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… and Director’s notes ~ Joy Skeels According to the story, Mr P T Barnum liked to state that “there is a sucker born every minute!” Well, I’m not sure that I agree with this rather jaundiced view of mankind (and I’m also not sure that the real Mr Barnum ever actually said those words at all), but one thing is certain: as far as this show goes, I’m a sucker! Why is this show so wonderful? For me it’s a combination of Barnum’s child-like enthusiasm for entertaining his audience, the foot-tapping musical score that Cy Coleman wrote for it, and the way that every time fate tries to knock Barnum down, he rolls with the punch and comes up swinging again. He just will not lie down. It’s an amazing fact (if facts and P T Barnum can ever sit comfortably side-by-side) that just about every event you’ll see in this show is true. It’s an accurate portrait of a man who is still considered The real Jenny Lind - not so blonde after all perhaps the greatest showman who ever lived. The tremendous highs of his career are in stark contrast to the incredible lows he experienced. One of the challenges I’ve enjoyed has been trying to sensitively convey these low points within a framework that is overwhelmingly joyous and energetic. In 2002, I played the role of Jenny Lind in the Chinnor Musical Theatre production of Barnum. I considered including a photograph of myself in the part along with these notes, but then I saw how I had looked in that blonde wig and decided against it. However, as you can see in the photo above, the real Jenny Lind wasn’t blonde at all if only I’d known! This photo of the Swedish Nightingale was taken in New York in 1850, when she was 30 years old, just as she was beginning her triumphant tour of the United States under the management of Mr Barnum. She was, so they say, a simply wonderful soprano. Of course, you’ll hear some more simply wonderful singing from the members of the Society in this show. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the whole cast and crew of Barnum for all their hard work over the last few months. Although our Society always strives to produce a show of the highest professional standard, musical theatre is just a hobby for us. We all hope you’ll agree that our efforts over many long hours of rehearsal and practice have been worthwhile. Enjoy the show, please tell your friends about us and, above all, do come back and see us again yourself! 3


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Are you struggling to hear the show? Action on Hearing Loss is the UK’s largest charity for people confronting deafness, tinnitus and hearing loss. Why not visit our online store and take a look at some of the unobtrusive handheld technologies that can make conversation, music, cinema and even this performance of Barnum so much easier to hear and enjoy? 4


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Musical Director ~ Drew Cowburn Since returning to the world of musical theatre eight years ago, Drew has been Musical Director for over 20 productions and played in the pit for around a further 40. Highlights include Company at Pleasance Islington, The Wedding Singer for Chesham Musical Theatre Company, The Witches of Eastwick with Hillingdon Musical Society and Bat Boy: The Musical with Argosy Players. Drew has also been known to appear on stage, with roles including Sheinkopf in Fame! at Edinburgh Fringe, Jeffrey in Godspell and Booby Shevalle in Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens, all of which involved doubling as Musical Director whilst on stage! Away from the theatre Drew works as a freelance pianist and teaches flute, clarinet and saxophone at Chesham Grammar School. Choreographer ~ Kerry Callaghan Kerry is delighted to be working with AOS once again, choreographing Barnum. She's loved the show since she was little and it has been a great chance to bring her gymnastic background into her choreography. Kerry has found the process of choreographing Barnum very different to her work on The Music Man, as every show brings its own challenges. In Barnum this involved helping a group of people, many of whom had never performed a circus trick or thought about how to move like a circus performer, develop these skills and make it believable on stage. Kerry is honoured to work with such a talented production team and cast who have all worked so hard to bring this amazing show to life. 5


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Barnum - the Greatest Showman on Earth Perhaps the most remarkable thing about only four years old, but was presented as eleven. the story of Phineas Taylor Barnum, as told in the In 1850, Barnum became a musical that bears his name, legitimate impresario by is that it is largely true. taking Jenny Lind, the Swedish Nightingale, on tour Born in 1810, by the age of around the USA, paying her twenty it was clear that he $1,000 a performance for was a natural showman – 150 nights. The tour created some might say conman, “Lind-Mania” and Barnum and he probably wouldn’t was even able to auction have denied it. Although he tickets to the highest bidder. didn’t invent the phrase, he would certainly have agreed P T Barnum with’General’ Tom Thumb After what was actually a that there is, indeed, a relatively successful period sucker born every minute. as a politician, in 1881 Barnum merged his circus with that of James Bailey to create By 1835 he was in New York, promoting the famous Barnum & Bailey Circus, the Joice Heth as the oldest woman alive, and first in the world to show in three rings when he purchased Scudder’s American simultaneously – the greatest show on Earth. Museum and began to exhibit the ‘Feejee Mermaid’, he was only getting started. He died in 1891, having led the world on a Soon he was touring the capitals of Europe merry dance to the tune of his own alongside ‘General’ Tom Thumb, who was imagination. National Operatic and Dramatic Association Abingdon Operatic Society is very proud to be a member of the National Operatic and Dramatic Association and you may notice a number of the members of our front-of-house team wearing their NODA long service medals tonight. NODA’s vision is that amateur theatre should be successful and sustainable, providing a range of opportunities for people to develop their skills and enjoy taking part, at all levels. They support the education and information needs of individuals and groups, contributing greatly to the continued success of amateur theatre in the UK. As usual, a NODA representative will be attending the show during this week and feeding back to the Society on the production with the helpful and much anticipated ‘NODA crit’ — a review of the performance and all aspects of the production. 7


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Q&A Duncan Blagrove P T Barnum Taking on the lead role in Barnum is a tremendous challenge, not least because it’s the only part in musical theatre that requires the ability to walk a tightrope every night. So without a safety net, we decided to fire a few questions at Duncan Blagrove. What was your first big role and where was that? I guess it was playing the lead in Bugsy Malone as a child, in a local parish show. And my first really big part in a musical production as an adult was probably Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar. When did you first join AOS? I joined back in 1995 for The Music Man. I was a very impressionable 16year-old but loved it. So Barnum will be my 19th show with AOS! Have you had any sort of formal training? I have an A level in Performing Arts, so have studied it a little, and I have also attended two of the really useful NODA summer


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schools - one focused on performing in a musical and then recently to study direction – which I was then able to put into practice with the AOS Spring production this year of (echoing my AOS debut in 1995) The Music Man. What’s been your favourite role and why? I’ve been very lucky over the years, so to pick just one is really hard! I loved playing Captain von Trapp last year in The Sound Of Music and another favourite challenge was playing Joseph Merrick in The Elephant Man. But I suppose the best role so far for me was playing Cornelius Hackle in the 2011 AOS production of Hello, Dolly! That cast was ace and I got to play opposite Iain Launchbury, one of my best friends from the Society, who was Barnaby. Just great fun. From the shows you know, what would be your dream role? As I’ve said, I’ve been really lucky with the parts I’ve played, but the one that I would still love to do is the evil Scar from The Lion King - just a fab role! How do you go about learning a part? Getting into the character is the most vital thing. You really have to believe in what you are doing and only then will it come through into your performance and make the audience believe what they are seeing. What’s the worst thing about show week? Oh the nerves! I really enjoy performing and it does give you a feeling like nothing else, but the nerves are just horrid. I have never not been nervous and it doesn’t ever seem to get easier! So how do you combat those nerves? Breathe!! I know it sounds silly but you really have to focus on breathing. By controlling my breathing and finding a quiet spot back stage to focus on the first part of the first scene is the key. Then once I'm on stage I am lost in the moment and the momentum of the show then carries me through. Are you aware of the audience when you’re on stage? Not usually, I tend to fully immerse myself in the part so much that what is happening on stage is the only thing I am focusing on. Sometimes, if the character on stage, like Barnum, has a direct interaction with the audience, then it can be a bit different. How do you feel when show week ends? I am not a big sufferer of post-show blues. I tend to just focus on the next thing as we only ever have a week or so before we start the next one. What do you do with the rest of your time? Family is the most important thing and spending time with my wife, Anne (who is also in AOS), and my son is paramount. I’m also a keen pike fisherman and can often be found after work having a cast down by the Abbey Meadow on the way home from work You recently made your directing debut for AOS – how was that? Directing has always been something I wanted to do and it proved to be an extremely rewarding process. I'm keen to do it again when the right show comes along. I also want to direct a dramatic play, which I have not yet done. What will you be doing next? Next for me is having some time with the family and getting ready for the winter piking season. And there's the next show with AOS, of course. After all, I'm sure I'm not too old to play Annie! Now where’s my red wig gone? 9


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Principal Cast Phineas Taylor Barnum Charity (Chairy) Ringmaster/Bailey Joice Heth Jenny Lind General Tom Thumb Blues Singer Julius Goldschmidt Wilton Mr Stratton Mrs Stratton Duncan Blagrove Kerry Callaghan Michael Winiarski Helen Hawkins Jenna Elliott Tom Codd Olivia Hancock David Cousin Rebecca Peberdy Adrian Amstead Lucy Bent The Chorus Kat Ballard-Martin, Simon Blainey, Beverley Burnham, Cate Davis, Natalie Fidler, Sarah Field, Valerie Findlay, Cathy Hall, Linda Harris, Tina Hood-Liles, Laura Huang, Phil Hughes, Stephanie Nash, Jo Pickering, Kevin Pope, Jon Ridley, Jen Skarp, Sarah Walters, Stephen Webb, Debbie Wilde Team ‘Barnum’ Children Team ‘Bailey’ Children Days: Wednesday, Friday, Saturday Matinee Oliver Barker Grace Dodgson Chloe Kitching Lucy Kitching Neela Nee Emily Vines Emma Woods Lydia Wright Days: Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday Evening Emma Johns Hope Littlejohn Toby Littlejohn Betty Lazarus Lia-Anjali Lazarus Grace Ruggiero Vita Ruggiero Emma Woods Reed 1 - Lorna Edwards Reed 2 - Amy Wood Reed 3 - Harry Flint Trumpet 1 - Luke Scott Trumpet 2 - Mark Prowen Trombone - Mark Denton Tuba - Shaun Humphries The Orchestra Keyboard 1 - Denise Evans Keyboard 2 - Sue Payne Guitar - Gary Mullins Double Bass - Graeme Hollingdale Percussion 1 - Rob MacLennan Percussion 2 - Chris Fletcher-Campbell 10


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Musical Numbers ACT ONE Overture: Come Follow The Band (Orchestra) ACT TWO Come Follow The Band (Barnum and Ensemble) There Is A Sucker Born Ev’ry Minute (Barnum) Thank God I’m Old (Joice Heth and Ensemble) The Colour Of My Life (Chairy and Barnum) The Brick Chase (Orchestra) One Brick At A Time (Chairy and Ensemble) Museum Song (Egress Song) Barnum I Like Your Style (Chairy and Barnum) Bigger Isn’t Better (Tom Thumb) Reprise: Love Makes Such Fools Of Us All (Jenny Lind) So Little Time (Barnum and Chairy) Black And White (Chairy, Barnum, Blues Singer and Ensemble) Barnum’s Lament (Barnum) Join The Circus (Barnum, Bailey and Ensemble) Finale (Full Company) Epilogue (Barnum) Love Makes Such Fools Of Us All (Jenny Lind) Out There (Barnum) 11


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Enjoy the show? Post your comment at Charity Barnum ~ Kerry Callaghan Kerry is absolutely thrilled to be part of the Barnum cast. Taking on the role of Chairy alongside her work as choreographer, she has lived and breathed this show for the past six months, but can still say, hand on heart, that she's loved every minute. Her three year old son Archie even asks for “circus music” in the car and knows almost all the words. Chairy is an amazing role that you can really get your teeth into, with some great songs too - somewhat similar to Kerry's last role, as Conchita in Copacabana, but with much less glamour! Kerry has loved working with Duncan again and can't wait for show week. She’s sure you'll leave humming the tunes and maybe even wanting to learn a few of those circus skills. Ringmaster/Bailey ~ Michael Winiarski Barnum is Michael's third show with Abingdon Operatic Society. It's a great opportunity for Michael to rediscover his youth by trying out some cartwheels and backward rolls not attempted for many, many, many years… let's hope his back and dodgy shoulder hold out! Big thanks go to Joy Skeels, Kerry Callaghan, Drew Cowburn, Duncan Blagrove and the whole company and crew for the amazing amount of work and dedication that has gone into bringing Barnum to life. Michael's roles with AOS include Professor Harold Hill in The Music Man and Rico Castelli in Copacabana. Thanks also go to Michael's wife Sally and two kids, Sam and Sophie, for putting up with the singing and dancing around the kitchen for the past year and a half. 12


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Enjoy the show? Post your comment at Joice Heth ~ Helen Hawkins Several years ago, Helen found herself supporting the Drama department during school productions as an aside to her own English teaching career. It was following a teachers’ cameo as one of Herod’s dancers in Jesus Christ Superstar that she couldn’t bear to watch from the wings any more. Since then, Helen has appeared in four AOS productions including Sweet Charity, The Sound of Music, Copacabana and more recently as Maud Dunlop in The Music Man. She also managed to talk her way onto the school stage again last year as the strawberry seller in Oliver! Now in her fifth AOS show, Helen is looking forward to playing the role of Joice Heth and hopes you enjoy ‘The Greatest Show on Earth!’ Jenny Lind ~ Jenna Elliott This is Jenna’s sixth show with AOS, having most recently performed the role of Marian Paroo in the Spring production of The Music Man. Her performance highlights include: Nancy in Oliver!, Tessa in The Gondoliers and Golde in Fiddler on the Roof. Jenna is delighted to be portraying Jenny Lind, and has thoroughly enjoyed being a flirty, diva soprano! Although, she is unlikely to receive any awards for her attempt at a Swedish accent! A special thank you to Joy, Kerry, Drew and the entire production team for their hard work and support. Jenna hopes that you enjoy 'The Greatest Show on Earth' - you're in for a treat! 13



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