November 2008

Former Gamesmaster to play the ‘Voice of God’.


skyatnight_moore2Britain’s favourite stargazer, Sir Patrick Moore, is to ‘star’ in the musical Little Shop of Horrors this week.


The veteran astronomer will play the ‘Voice of God’ in the Brighton-based City Theatre Company’s production at the Barn Theatre, Southwick.   


The show tells the story of down-and-out florist’s assistant Seymour who becomes an overnight sensation when he discovers an exotic plant with a craving for fresh blood.


In CTC’s version of the musical, the ‘Voice of God’ is a 1950s newsreader mysteriously appearing on a television dumped in a trash can.   


Sir Patrick, 85, will not appear on stage in person each night.  Instead his part has already been filmed in the study at his home in Selsey, from which he broadcasts the long-running BBC favourite The Sky at Night.


He said:  “I love the stage.  I’ve been on it more times than I care to count, but I’m not very mobile these days.  If I was, I’d probably be out there rehearsing for the local pantomime as we speak.  As it was, the company had to come to me.”


The director of the show, Andy Stoner, said it was brilliant to be able to secure the performance.  “Patrick Moore kept popping into my head for some reason as the person I’d like the character to look and sound like,” he said.


“I thought I’d chance my arm and write to him to see if he’d do it and lo and behold he rang me up at work.  I was really taken aback at first, because he has one of those voices that you know who he is instantaneously.


“I was a bit worried when we got there because he’d lost the script I sent him, so I thought we’d be hanging around for ages while he learned his part. But he got the script, read it for about a minute, chatted to me for a while and then we filmed it and it was perfect first time.  He’s absolutely amazing – so professional.”


Sir Patrick has not yet seen the results of his performance.  Stoner said:   “He’s coming to see the show.  I hope he’s happy with his performance.  I’m sure he will be – we certainly are.”


Sir Patrick will appear alongside the other star of the show, Audrey II, the plant the company are making from scratch.  There will, in fact, be four Audrey puppets of different sizes to represent the plant growing to outrageous proportions.  They range from the smallest, a hand puppet, to the fourth, which is huge and has six people operating it, with two people dressed as roots crawling out at the bottom. 


Stoner said:  “It’s a big risk designing them ourselves but we’re all really pleased with the way they’ve turned out.  We’ve really tried to inject some personality into them.  They look as though they could really eat somebody.”


Audrey II and Sir Patrick Moore can be seen at the Barn Theatre, Southwick from 25th to 29th November.  Tickets are available from the Barn box office, tel: 01273 592 819.


Brighton boys do The Full Monty

montyjamieBrighton bobby Jamie Collins will be baring all on-stage at the Theatre Royal this week in The Full Monty, with his boss looking on from the royal box.


Jamie, who is based at Brighton police station, plays the lead character, Jerry Lukowski, in the Brighton Theatre Group’s production of the all-singing, all-dancing Broadway version of the 1997 hit British film.  As a policeman, he initially had a few concerns about the effect his indecent exposure might have on his career.


Jamie said: “I was really worried about it to begin with. When I was first offered the part I had to square it with my supervisors, but it’s not as though I’m taking my policeman’s uniform off in a pub on a Friday night and degrading the police force.  It’s theatre.


“All the guys at work have done since they found out about it is rib me.  They keep asking whether I’m really taking my kit off.”


Jamie is expecting about 80 of his colleagues, including his Chief Constable, to come along on Saturday night, so they can find out for themselves.


The show tells the story of six unemployed steel workers from Buffalo with varying financial and personal reasons to turn to stripping.  They each have issues and hang-ups to overcome along the way but, as Director Michael Burnie points out, there was no room for any such bashfulness from the cast.


“We needed to know we had a group of boys together that would do it.  The last thing we wanted was someone backing out at the last minute,” he said.  “Upfront, at the auditions, we were really clear that they have to do the naked scene at the end and they have to do it for real, but they’re all very comfortable with it.”


For some of the actors, it is more nerve-wracking than for others.  Micklos Richardson-Hodge, who plays Noah ‘Horse’ Simmons, has never performed in a show before. 


The group were struggling to cast the character – an aging black man with a flair for dancing – when the director spotted Micklos, whose look was right for the part, working as a security guard in a department store and approached him.  As luck would have it, Micklos turned out to be a talented singer and dancer and sailed through his audition, despite almost turning away at the door.  He said he’s now very glad he went for it.


“I was spotted at work while patrolling the lingerie department of M&S,” Micklos said with a chuckle.  “I’ve done a bit of dancing before and I run a karaoke night, but that’s it.  I’ve never done a show before. Mind you, I love the limelight.  I’m just keeping my fingers crossed I won’t get stage fright.


“I’ve always wanted to do something like this, but at 44 I thought, ‘That’s it, I’m past it.’  But who knows?  Broadway here I come.”montystrippers1

The boys will be going all the way at the Theatre Royal Brighton from November 11th to 15th 2008.  Tickets are available from the box office, tel: 08700 606 650.