Cash plea launched by theatre group

Ellington Colliery Band.
Ellington Colliery Band.

An amateur dramatic group which has been running for more than 60 years has made a plea for funding to help stage its next show.

Alnwick Theatre Club is preparing for its upcoming production, Brassed Off, which will grace the town’s Playhouse stage for four nights in May.

A key part of the show is music and the highly-regarded Ellington Colliery Band has agreed to take part.

However, the theatre club needs to raise £1,000 to fund the band’s expenses and has launched a sponsorship appeal.

Show director David Richardson said: “Rather than raise ticket prices to the show, Alnwick Theatre Club has been seeking sponsorship to help to cover the bands’ travel expenses.

“We were delighted when the band offered to donate their services for free for the final dress rehearsal, but it leaves the four nights of performance to fund.

“Various groups and individuals have already pledged sums of money, including Alnwick Rotary Club, Blackshaws Motor Group, Covance Ltd, The Duke and Duchess of Northumberland and Wheeldrive of Driffield, but there is still some way to go to meet the target.

“We are still short of £1,000 and when you take into account theatre fees, royalties, scenery and costumes, it means that unless we sell out the show we would make a loss, hence the appeal for funds.”

If anyone can sponsor the band, call 01665 479184 or 01669 622856.

A rousing, poignant production

Brassed Off is a funny and heart-warming drama which tells the story about the troubles faced by a colliery brass band and the closure of its pit.

For Alnwick Theatre Club’s performance, the Ellington Colliery Band will perform on the Playhouse stage, as well as in the wings.

The group will play rousing, well-known brass-band tunes such as The Floral Dance, Death and Glory, Concerto D’Aranjuez and the William Tell Overture.

The play will also see the dramatic transformation of some of the characters who performed in the Club’s recent pantomime, Pinocchio.

This includes Jimmy Dodds, who will go from being the dame to playing the leading role of Danny, the band leader.

He will be joined by other panto principals – Matt Bush, Liam Cooke, Peter Biggers, and Fiona Cuthbert – as part of the 12-strong cast.

The show is being performed at the Playhouse from Wednesday, May 20, to Saturday, May 23, at 7.30pm. Tickets are £10, £9 conc and £6 child/student.

For tickets, call 01665 510785 or visit the Alnwick Playhouse

‘This challenging show is a moving piece of theatre’ – says director

Delighted David Richardson has admitted he is relishing the prospect of directing Brassed Off, adding ‘it is a long-held ambition of mine’.

A stalwart of amateur theatre, David, from Rothbury, believes this moving show will be both challenging and rewarding.

And he says it is a fitting time to stage the production, in what is the 10th anniversary year of the closure of Ellington Colliery.

It is particularly poignant that the Ellington Colliery Band will be starring in the show.

David, pictured left, said: “Brassed Off is very appropriate to this part of the North East, which was a thriving mining area with several colliery bands.

“It is 10 years this year since Ellington Colliery and I know the Ellington Colliery Band is very keen to take part too.”

David, who used to live close to Grimethorpe Colliery, in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, added: “Brassed Off is a very emotive piece of theatre.

“It brings out the conflict of the time. It is a moving play, but there is humour in there as well.”

David has directed shows in Alnwick and Rothbury. He also founded and is an honorary life member of Whitby Musical Theatre Company.

Later this year, he will be presented with an honorary award by The National Operatic and Dramatic Society for 55 years of voluntary service to amateur theatre.