Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Amateurs Are Putting Their Faith in Sir Cliff

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Amateurs Are Putting Their Faith in Sir Cliff

Article excerpt

Byline: David Whetstone Arts & Entertainment Editor

AUTUMN is more than knocking on the door but one of the region's longest established musical theatre societies is hoping it's not too late for a summer holiday.

The West End Operatic Society (WEOS) - that's the West End of Newcastle rather than London's theatreland - is hoping its production of the musical Summer Holiday will boost its perilously depleted coffers.

The society, which staged its first show in 1949, has had a difficult few years, according to publicist Dorothy Coleman.

Exiled from its traditional venue while the Theatre Royal was being refurbished, the society mounted two successive annual productions - The Full Monty and Calamity Jane - at the Tyne Theatre but on both occasions failed to draw as big an audience.

Returning to the Theatre Royal earlier this year, it presented Jekyll & Hyde: The Musical and was forced to dip into its reserves to cover its costs.

"We had hoped it would make a profit because it's such a wonderful show and it was being made into a film at the time, or so we were told," says Dorothy.

"But people only have so much money to spend these days.

"Maybe people are more likely to want to see something they know well rather than something different, which West End has always tried to do.

"We have always alternated an unusual show with a popular show because we've got a lot of young members and we want them to have something challenging rather than the old potboilers."

Nobody would call Sir Cliff Richard an old potboiler and it is to him - in a roundabout way - that the West Enders are turning with a fund-raising production of Summer Holiday. It is 50 years since the film came out. Cliff, then a slip of a lad, played Don, one of a trio of London bus mechanics who borrowed a double decker and set off on a continental adventure, bumping into a gang of girls on the way.

The film proved as popular as The Young Ones, which Cliff had starred in two years earlier. It was the British box office champion of 1963.

The stage version came along in 1996, adapted from the screenplay by Michael Gyngell and Mark Haddigan and opening in Blackpool with Darren Day in the Cliff role of Don. …

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