In early 2013, our illustrious directors, Bex and Liz, wanted to do something different to the previous Pantomime two years before. As successful as it was, there was a draw to try a wartime show. Initially, we discussed a review show, with songs and short scenes, but further discussions, and a number of flights of fancy, involved staged songs, maybe a bit of dance or acted monologue or short scenes. The pantomime had included a short projection that helped to tell the story, and this was the centre of a conversation to include some sort of projected footage in the new show.
It was decided to create a family and to follow them through the war years, experiencing their ups and downs, and that of their children. We researched the many events of the war from Britain’s point of view, and drew up a timeline for reference. Conscription, evacuation, the blitz, the Battle of Britain, the arrival of American troops and the long, austere years that followed. This laid the basis of the surrounding story and how it affected the family and their neighbours. As the story matured, we developed each character in order to experience different events and to introduce the many facets of the war, both at home and on the battlefield.
Songs would help us to tell the story, not just be heard. We didn’t want to use a song just because people would recognised it, and instead found some specifically for their sound or to expand the scene it was in. The story spans an incredible six years, which led Britain from the music of the 1930’s to the influx of jive of the 1940’s. We wanted to introduce something special. In order to tell parts of the story, it was important to use archive footage to help the audience understand what things were like. We also filmed some new scenes that would be seen in the show. These would interact with the stage play and give the audience additional information, as well as add to the performance.
Rehearsals started in September for the two act show, and our cast has put in some great work in bringing this new show to life. It hasn’t been easy, but we think it will be an entertaining evening.