WISBECH: Operatic Society set to wow audiences with new production of the Boyfriend

Spring is the season for lovers. Spring is the celebration of a new year – and this spring sees WAODS burst on to the stage with all the exuberance of the season, to perform the lively musical The Boyfriend by Sandy Wilson directed by Barbara Mews, at

Spring is the season for lovers. Spring is the celebration of a new year - and this spring sees WAODS burst on to the stage with all the exuberance of the season, to perform the lively musical "The Boyfriend" by Sandy Wilson directed by Barbara Mews, at the Thomas Clarkson Community College 27 - 31 May.

With an extravaganza of singing, dancing and a lot of general 'fluffiness', the Society intends to continue the professional standards in entertainment it has set itself over recent years.

'The Boyfriend' promises to be the happiest show in town, and has all the ingredients necessary to make an audience leave with a spring it's step and humming a cacophony of catchy songs for days to come.

The action takes place at Madame Dubonnet's finishing school for young English ladies outside Nice on the French Riviera in 1926. Her pupils are excited by a carnival ball that evening - madcap Maisie plans to juggle her dancing partners, but sweet Polly Browne awaits her boyfriend's arrival from Paris.

Actually, he's an imaginary boyfriend - Polly's millionaire father is suspicious of fortune-hunters and forbids her to meet young men. Her father, Percival, arrives at the School, and Madame Dubonnet recognises him immediately as her 'petit Percy'. They knew each other in youthful days, and slowly rekindle their romance. When a charming messenger called Tony delivers her costume, Polly impulsively invites him to accompany her to the ball. But is he really a messenger boy?

The piece is a pastiche, paying homage to the popular musical comedies of the 1920s. Which were sweet boy-meets-girl confections, built around dippy plot contrivance, blithe romance and cheerful nonsense. 'The Boyfriend' is (according to it's creator Sandy Wilson) 'a loving salute - a valentine from one post-war period to another' (it was first performed in 1953). Its beautifully balanced tone can't be guyed too heartily - however wide-eyed the characters may seem - the joke isn't on them. Polly's ideal of married domesticity may be simple, but it isn't stupid. Not for one moment should you poke fun at it - if you do, you're lost.

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It is a very different type of show to last's very successful, but sombre, "The King & I". The Boyfriend has three acts, each one being no longer than half an hour, and each is cram packed with fast and colourful numbers such as 'Perfect Young Ladies', 'Won't You Charleston With Me?', 'Sur Le Place', 'Safety In Numbers' and 'The Riviera'. The show was made famous by the 1971film starring Twiggy and Christopher Gable. More recently it has enjoyed two hugely successful consecutive season runs at the world famous Open Air Theatre in Regent's Park, directed, and starring, Ian Talbot, who has recently taken over from Mel Smith in the West End production of 'Hairspray'.

The cast includes some familiar faces, as well as some new:

Hortense - Helen Jones

Maisie - Jemma Matten

Dulcie - Teresa Hudson

Fay - Sharon Ashman

Nancy - Erin Bothemley

Evie - Julie Collins

Bea - Hannah Clayton

Faith - Suzanne Curson

Polly Browne - Jo Sherry

Marcel - Alan Hanrahan

Pierre - Joe Mason-Smith

Alphonse - Nick Hall

Madame Dubonnet - Mary Conway

Bobby van Husen - Phill Ashman

Percival Browne - Ron Thurston

Tony - David Brammer

Lord Brockhurst - Mark Fearnley

Lady Brockhurst - Val Standen

Marie - Ann Shippey

Alice - Eileen Betts

Stella - Eunice Bennifer

Director - Barbara Mews

Musical Director - Mark Checkley

The Society last performed 'The Boyfriend' in 1982, and several of the current cast and crew were involved in that production. Director Barbara Mews was the Dance Mistress, current Props Master, John Richmond, played 'Pepe' the tango dancer, Mary Conway has been promoted from Finishing School pupil 'Fay' to the Headmistress herself 'Madame Dubonnet', Teresa Hudson has merely changed pupils from 'Nancy' to 'Dulcie' and Ann Shippey reprises her role as 'Marie', one to the Finishing School's formidable Mesdames.

With a very talented hard working cast and crew audiences can be guaranteed an unforgettable evening's entertainment. The Society has gone to great lengths to make the Thomas Clarkson Community College feel as much like a theatre as possible, with raised seating, blacked out windows, professional lighting and sound, together with a licensed bar, plenty of free parking, easy wheel chair access and a display of the Society's extensive archive on display in the foyer. Tickets are £12 for the raised seating and £10 for the flat, call the Box Office on 07776 318309 or 01945 870393 or 01945 582758 to book your tickets. Alternatively, you can call in at the Box Office, located in Etcetra, York Row, Wisbech from 19th May 10am to 3pm Monday - Saturday, but be quick - tickets are going fast!

WAODS is also busy preparing to host a quiz on Friday 20th June 2008 at St Peter's Church Hall, Wisbech, with Quiz Master Mr Jack Dalziel. Teams can be a maximum of 6 people at £3 per person. Food will be provided - please bring your own drinks and glasses. Contact Barbara Mews on 01945 587982 or visit the Society website at www.waods.org.uk and click on the 'Contact Us' button for further details.

1. WAODS have been providing Wisbech with high quality shows since the Society was founded in 1905, with its first show being "A Moss Rose Rent".

2. WAODS extensive Archive can be viewed on it's newly re vamped website at www.waods.org.uk.

3. Attached photos are:

BF1 - Production Team

BF5 - Mark Fearnley & Teresa Hudson

BF7 - Company rehearsing

BF9 - Ron Thurston & Mary Conway

BF12 - Boys & Girls In Bathing Costumes

BF13 - Mark Fearnley & Valerie Standen

BF15 - Ann Shippey, Eileen Betts & Eunice Bennifer

BF 16 - Jo Sherry & David Brammer

BF17 - John Richmond


Isobel Shippey

I07840 914869


Isobel Shippey

07840 914869