Ripon Operatics keep it in the family for Follies

Ripon Operatics.
Ripon Operatics.

A message from Stephen Sondhiem, a grandmother/granddaughter pairing in the cast, Ripon Operatic Society’s latest production promises to be a memorable occasion, indeed.

Opening next week at Harrogate Theatre, the company’s new version of Sondheim’s hit musical Follies tells the story of a group of veteran showgirls as they reunite one final time in their old Broadway theatre before it gets knocked down.

The female cast is uniquely divided into two groups; the veterans taking to the stage for one last time, and their “younger selves” who help to tell their stories of yesteryear.

Boosted by a ‘good luck’ letter from Sondheim himself, director Phill Ruddy has done his best to create suitable pairs of “older” and “younger” selves. One match was very obvious. Pam Atkinson and her granddaughter Lucy Atkinson who will be performing their first show together by playing each other.

Pam is no stranger to the stage and has been treading the boards since 1942 when she won a talent competition aged just three-years-old on Blackpool’s North Pier.

Since then she has performed in numerous plays, cabarets, concerts and shows.

Growing up in Leeds, Pam appeared in musicals such as Kiss Me Kate at the Leeds Grand, and first took to the stage at Harrogate Theatre as Nancy in Oliver! with Harrogate Operatic Players.

Lucy, who has been a member of the society for four years and attends the Sixth Form at Harrogate Grammar, is also very familiar with treading the boards.

A member of Ripon Youth Theatre as well as the adult society, she has recently appeared as Potiphar’s Wife in Joseph and in 2012 played the Wicked Witch in The Wiz.

Lucy can certainly claim to come from a family of thespians; her mum Michelle Beckett recently starred in Anything Goes and in 2011 took the lead in the debut of new musical Boiling Frog which also starred Lucy’s younger sister Charlotte, another member of Ripon Youth Theatre.

Pam, who last appeared on stage 25 years ago, is looking forward to working with her granddaughter.

Pam said: “I am very proud of my talented Lucy. She’s a beautiful singer and mover and it’s great that we can work together in this way sharing something we both love to.”

Lucy said: “I am really proud that my grandma is still an amazing performer after 25 years of not being on the stage”

Follies runs at Harrogate Theatre from April 17-21.

Tickets are available on 01423 502116 or at www.harrogatetheatre.co.uk

Pensioners attending opening night will receive a £2 discount per ticket.