Well, it's done. After several weeks of rehearsals and four frantic days getting into the venue, we were thrilled and delighted by the wonderful feedback. The cast all appeared to have the time of their lives; the audiences joined in appropriately and were pleasingly extravagant in their praise; and we are so glad that all the hard work paid off.
Click here to see photographs taken at dress rehearsals by the director; the official images will follow soon.
Here's a very happy cast and crew in the bar after the final performance:
... and here are a few reviews received by Facebook or email...
"... you and your cast had engaged the audience throughout; there were even people humming along and singing. So well done to you and all the MH Company. I hope that the audiences for the rest of the performances grow and appreciate the hard work and talent that has gone into the show."
"Just had to email to say what a wonderful production. Fantastic singing and characterisation. Brilliant show all round."
"If Cassie and Selwyn ever do another Music Hall at the Sewell Barn Theatre (and I hope they will), make sure you go! ...really top-class ... that was an amazing evening. Slick, funny and poignant. The characterisation was outstanding. Thank you!"
"...the "audience experience" was outstanding...an excellent opportunity for you to showcase the talent of this Company... a well researched, well presented and highly entertaining evening...top quality performances...other venues could take note..."
"What a fantabulous show! Awesome! ... Well done Cassie Tillett & cast! Ya made me laugh & cry xx"
"Just been to see 'Down among the Wines and Spirits' at Sewell Barn Theatre! Absolutely brilliant - well done to all!"
"Attention all! Especially theatre and music lovers! Please do go and support my good friends and their fantastic music hall production "Down Among the Wines and Spirits" at the Sewell Barn Theatre this Thursday, Friday and Saturday. I've just seen a wonderful rehearsal and they all deserve big audiences for all the hard work and passion they've evidently put in. I can't recommend this highly enough. Fun, amusing, touching and something for everyone!"
Update, 21st March: I have just today received my copy of the Sewell Barn Newsletter, and am delighted to read the review below from Jenny Hobson. Click on the image to see a larger (readable) version.
To our wonderful cast and crew: thank you for being part of such an amazing creation. Your theatrical forebears would, we know, have been immensely proud of you.
Tuesday, 4 March 2014
The stage is set. The lighting is rigged. The costumes created and the performers ready. Twenty-seven characters, all of whom really existed, portrayed by ten performers, await your presence. Come and meet them; laugh and cheer and sympathise; join in choruses and enjoy a night out as your ancestors might have done.
Tickets are selling well, and the Sewell Barn can only accommodate 100 people for each of the four performances, so advance booking (especially for Thursday, which as I write is 75% sold) is highly recommended. Call Jarrolds on 01603 697248, or visit the Sewell Barn booking page for more information.
Saturday, 15 February 2014
The world of the music hall is being recreated, bit by bit, song by song, mostly in our rehearsal space in Rosebery Road Methodist Church Hall. Our ten performers (nine singers plus pianist) bring to life between them twenty-seven people who really existed: some are well-known names, even to a twenty-first century audience; others no more than a one-song footnote in the annals of theatre history. They all have their parts to play, and they are our theatrical ancestors.
You'll have a chance (nay, be encouraged!) to sing along, as your forefathers would have done if they attended the Norwich Hippodrome in its Victorian & Edwardian heyday, or any of hundreds of equivalent halls across the country. You'll hear what it was really like to dash from one hall to another doing the same act several times on the same evening, how the managers held the purse-strings, how the personalities clashed.
Come and meet them. Click here for booking details. Four performances only and the theatre seats just 100 people: don't miss out!
Monday, 20 January 2014
We began rehearsing on 9th January, and our magnificent cast are already having huge fun recreating these larger-than-life characters.
Publicity is going out soon; these are the details. Please share wherever you can!
DOWN AMONG THE WINES AND SPIRITS
The golden age of the real music hall
Directed by Cassie & Selwyn Tillett
Performance dates: 6th - 8th March 2014
For these four shows only, we’re bringing to life characters who entertained the UK from around 1880 until World War 1, the era that became known as The Golden Age of Music Hall. Many might still be familiar names, even to a 21st century audience (Marie Lloyd, Vesta Tilley, George Robey) and were at the top of the bill; many others you’ll never have heard of, but they were able to earn a modest living ‘down among the wines and spirits’ – at the foot of the bill, next to the list of refreshments.
Our cast will between them re-create the stage performances of no fewer than 26 stars and lesser lights of the halls. In between their appearances onstage in the course of the evening, we see them relaxing, reminiscing, criticising and bickering in the Green Room of an unspecified theatre across a period of years (loosely based around the Norwich Hippodrome where Marie Lloyd appeared in March 1913 – 101 years, to the week, before our show). As they interact we learn something about their own personalities and experiences, and what life was like for those at the bottom of the bill.
As the playbills used to say: we count ourselves extraordinarily fortunate to have secured the services of several fine artistes, many of whom are already well-known to Sewell Barn audiences:
MR STEVE ASKEW
MISS JUDI DAYKIN
MISS RACHEL DUFFIELD
MISS JUNE GENTLE
MR JOHN GRIFFIN
MR JOHN HARE
MISS ANGELA ROWE
MR DAVID SHAW
MISS GILLIAN TICHBORNE
MR SELWYN TILLETT
“Crowded audiences are certain to prevail this week” – EDP, March 1913
Be among them – be enthusiastically entertained – be wild in your applause!