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Our Show Must Go On: Bishop's Stortford Musical Theatre Company returns to South Mill Arts with showcase of stage and screen numbers



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Bishop's Stortford Musical Theatre Company ended their pandemic-imposed, two-year absence from the South Mill Arts stage with a flash, a bang and a wallop.

A company of 30 presented a cabaret-style showcase of 23 songs from West End, Broadway and Hollywood musicals in a one-off evening called "Our Show Must Go On" on Saturday November 13.

Compered by MCs Chas Gill and Bernie Bush, the 22 women and eight men performed numbers spanning the decades, from Luck be a Lady from 1950's Guys and Dolls to The Greatest Showman, Hamilton and Six of recent years.

Guys without dolls: From left, Daniel Abbott, Matt Juggins, Yves Randle, Bob Rawlinson-Mills and Peter Jones perform Luck be a Lady from Guys and Dolls. Picture: Lynn Graseman
Guys without dolls: From left, Daniel Abbott, Matt Juggins, Yves Randle, Bob Rawlinson-Mills and Peter Jones perform Luck be a Lady from Guys and Dolls. Picture: Lynn Graseman

As director Cath Dickerson said: "We specifically chose songs that were uplifting, inspiring, melodious and both joyously singable for us to perform as well as being entertaining for our audience, with an exciting mix of well-known shows and new material that we haven’t performed before from more current productions."

Split into three acts, the show opened with Chas and Bernie performing We Look to You from The Prom. This was followed by songs from Curtains, Sister Act, Sunset Boulevard and Rent before a female octet – Cat Quigley, Mary Gibson, choreographer Zoë Stiles, Emma Middleton, Gill Gammage, Kat Fuller, Carrie Everett and Becky Faulkner – raised the audience's pulses with All That Jazz from Chicago.

After You Love Who You Love from Bonnie and Clyde, by the trio of Ali Akhurst, Liz Ellams and the director, a rousing rendition of One Day More from Les Miserables heralded the first interval.

One Day More from Les Miserables – from left, Hannah and Matt Juggins, Peter Jones, Bob Rawlinson-Mills, Becky Faulkner, Garry Bray, Kat Fuller and Yves Randle. Picture: Lynn Graseman
One Day More from Les Miserables – from left, Hannah and Matt Juggins, Peter Jones, Bob Rawlinson-Mills, Becky Faulkner, Garry Bray, Kat Fuller and Yves Randle. Picture: Lynn Graseman

The second act featured two songs each from The Prom and Jekyll and Hyde – BSMTC's previous show at South Mill Arts, in November 2019 – plus When You Believe from The Prince of Egypt, You Will Be Found from Dear Evan Hanson and the aforementioned Luck be a Lady.

The company saved the best for the final act with ear-pleasing, heart-rending and eye-catching performances of From Now On from The Greatest Showman, a show-stealing Come What May from Moulin Rouge by Matt and Hannah Juggins, and the title track from Six, the modern retelling of the lives of the six wives of Henry VIII presented as a pop concert, featuring Alison Mitchell, newcomer Leah Gaskell, musical director Annabel Clapham, Stiles, Lucy Miller and Akhurst.

These were interspersed with Stiles and Bob Rawlinson-Mills singing City of Stars from La La Land, Lucy Miller flying solo in The Lion King's He Lives in You and Daniel Abbott and Yves Randle putting their shoulders to the fore for the comedy highlight, You'll Be Back from Hamilton.

After Anything Can Happen from Mary Poppins, the company closed with Flash Bang Wallop from Kipps – The New Half a Sixpence Musical, BSMTC's postponed production which it will be staging at South Mill Arts in autumn 2022.

Lucy Miller performed He Lives in You from The Lion King. Picture: Lynn Graseman (53244241)
Lucy Miller performed He Lives in You from The Lion King. Picture: Lynn Graseman (53244241)

Charlotte Pritchard, chair of the company, said: "For a long time since the beginning of the pandemic, the answer to the question ‘Do you hear the people sing?’ was a firm no.

"As a musical theatre company, it was heart-breaking not to be able to perform or even meet as a group, and we had to cancel our planned 2020 production of Kipps.

"It’s been a long wait and we were cautious about coming back and keeping our members safe. I’m delighted that now restrictions have been lifted we are back on stage doing what we love best at our favourite venue and bringing some joy to our audiences again – we've really missed them!”

The final word to director Dickerson: "I'm so proud of what we've all achieved and it certainly is great to be back on the boards again – we've been away for far too long."

Bob Rawlinson-Mills and Leah Gaskell performing Seasons of Love from Rent. Picture: Lynn Graseman
Bob Rawlinson-Mills and Leah Gaskell performing Seasons of Love from Rent. Picture: Lynn Graseman
Margaret Preston giving it some zazz with, from left, Alison Mitchell, Liz Ellams, Ali Akhurst, Cath Dickerson and Gill Gammage as they perform Give It Some Zazz from The Prom. Picture: Lynn Graseman
Margaret Preston giving it some zazz with, from left, Alison Mitchell, Liz Ellams, Ali Akhurst, Cath Dickerson and Gill Gammage as they perform Give It Some Zazz from The Prom. Picture: Lynn Graseman
Anything Can Happen from Mary Poppins. Picture: Lynn Graseman
Anything Can Happen from Mary Poppins. Picture: Lynn Graseman
The BSMTC company finished with Flash Bang Wallop from Kipps - The New Half a Sixpence Musical. Picture: Lynn Graseman
The BSMTC company finished with Flash Bang Wallop from Kipps - The New Half a Sixpence Musical. Picture: Lynn Graseman
The BSMTC company finished with Flash Bang Wallop from Kipps - The New Half a Sixpence Musical. Picture: Lynn Graseman
The BSMTC company finished with Flash Bang Wallop from Kipps - The New Half a Sixpence Musical. Picture: Lynn Graseman


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