Crawley Music Hall Show

Heritage Plus participants put on a rousing spectacular of song and dance

By Nicola Benge

Photo:George is The Spaniard

George is The Spaniard

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus archive

Photo:All together now - 'Memories' rehearsals

All together now - 'Memories' rehearsals

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus archive

Photo:George and Joyce sing Row Row Row

George and Joyce sing Row Row Row

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus archive

Photo:How's about that then!

How's about that then!

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus archive

Photo:London Pride

London Pride

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus archive

Photo:Topsy Turvey

Topsy Turvey

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus archive

Photo:Les and Ken on National Service

Les and Ken on National Service

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus archive

Photo:Les in 'Cobblers'!

Les in 'Cobblers'!

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus archive

Photo:Spice of Life in Action

Spice of Life in Action

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus archive

Photo:Let me entertain you!

Let me entertain you!

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus archive

Photo:Ken and Rosina

Ken and Rosina

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus archive

Photo:The Mayor of Crawley with Les and Margaret

The Mayor of Crawley with Les and Margaret

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus archive

Photo:Ivy and Hazel relieved it's over!

Ivy and Hazel relieved it's over!

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus archive

The music hall reminiscence show 'Memories' was premiered on September 4th 2008. The show was a mix of songs, dance and reminiscence taken from previous reminiscence sessions at Crawley WRVS centre and written into a script. This included memories and life experiences of the participants and their journey to Crawley New Town, as well as an original song written by over 55's from the Living Archive group in Milton Keynes, and sketches, songs and monologues written by the Crawley WRVS music group themselves.

Following on from the mid way report of activities, 24 people from Crawley WRVS and another veteran group of performers, Spice of Life, took part in the rehearsals leading up to the show and to the show itself. This is an impressive figure given that time for rehearsals were short, meaning that all day rehearsals were needed in the month up to the actual show. This meant that on the day of the show, participants were at the Hawth theatre in Crawley, for 10 hours. The age range of the participants was 58 - 90 years. The pianist for the show was also in his late 70s.  The commitment of the groups towards the project, and the time and effort they spent in collaborating with myself as a freelance scriptwriter and show director really helped to bring the project to life. One participant in particular, Ken Ridley age 79 was invaluable in this process as well as proving himself to be a born performer on stage.

In connection with this project Nicola Benge WRVS show facilitator was interviewed live on air for BBC Southern Counties Radio on 2nd September 2008 which enabled her to talk about the project, the show and explain more about Heritage Plus, WRVS as well as promoting the Heritage Lottery Fund.

In the event, the show was a near sell out, vending 148 tickets for a 150 seat theatre. The mayor and his consort attended the show, along with four Crawley town councillors. The show was a great success. The audience loved it. They were very supportive, laughed a great deal, sang along with the performers and called for more at the end. The mayor gave a rousing speech after the show finale and then invited the cast to attend the mayoral party on Friday 17th Oct to thank them for all his hard work.

This page was added by John Cheves on 12/01/2009.

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