More than 100 roles in HDS’s 1960s musical

HDS: Chris Cowling as the Pierrot Master of  Ceremonies with a chorus of girls in Oh What a Lovely War. From left to right:  Gill McVey, Judith Simpson, Sue Bravender, Lesley Wheal, Sue Rawson. Foreground: Jenny Antram.
HDS: Chris Cowling as the Pierrot Master of Ceremonies with a chorus of girls in Oh What a Lovely War. From left to right: Gill McVey, Judith Simpson, Sue Bravender, Lesley Wheal, Sue Rawson. Foreground: Jenny Antram.
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One of the most ambitious productions ever undertaken by Harrogate Dramatic Society is launched next week at Harrogate Theatre.

The award-winning society is staging the musical and acting spectacular, Oh What a Lovely War, the anti-war “entertainment” devised by the distinguished Theatre director Joan Littlewood and her cast in the 1960s.

Oh What a Lovely War became a massive hit in the 1960s, partly thanks to classic songs from the trenches - Roses of Picardy, Hush Here Comes a Whizzbang, It’s a Long Way from Tipperary, Goodbye-ee and many many more.

The horrors and carnage of the First World War are told through the documents and songs of the period, neither sparing the incompetence of generals and the futile waste of life but also liberally spiced with music and humour for a memorable musical.

To bring this mammoth production to fruition, director Chris Rawson has had to find sufficient acting and singing talent to fill a total of 125 different roles.

The society may have nearly a 100 members but not everyone could be persuaded to dress up in pierrot costume for a song and dance end-of-the pier show – the theme of Oh What a Lovely War. Chris Rawson said: “The only way to pull it off was to get as many willing actors to take on as many roles as possible!

“The play calls for very versatile performers who can cope with anything, as well as possessing the skills to sing and dance and change character in an instant.”

On the day when the production goes on stage Chris’s cast will consist of 20 male and female actor/singers, which in theory - means that each actor should be responsible for six and a quarter individual parts.

Oh What a Lovely War runs at Harrogate Theatre from Wednesday, May 1 until Saturday, May 4. Evening performances begin at 7.30 p.m., the Saturday matinee at 2.30pm.

Tickets are available from the box office on 01423 502116, or online at www.harrogatetheatre.co.uk