All posts tagged Northampton

‘The Girl from Tiger Bay’ is the acknowledged as the world number one celebration of Dame Shirley Bassey, is coming to The Deco, for one night only, on Friday, February 7th. Telling the unique story of Dame Shirley Bassey’s incredible rise to stardom, and her magical career spanning 65 years, international tribute artist/vocal impersonator Joanne Copeman, who performs as ‘Surely Bassey’, has been performing globally as Dame Shirley since 2002.

“Surely this Bassey show is the best tribute to the Welsh singer!” – The Sun.

Here, Joanne talks to us about her love of Dame Shirley, and how she came to be an in-demand, world acclaimed tribute artist to her…

First experience of Dame Shirley?

I remember watching her on TV when I was a kid and being fascinated. I was probably only around 16 years old. That was 29 years ago and I’m still fascinated now.

What is it about her that captivates you so?

There are many things but the main things are, the drama & theatre she puts into every performance. She is mesmerising. Then there is the huge, powerful vocal, she has an incredible voice. Finally, I don’t think there is anyone on earth, more glamorous.

Favourite Shirley song?

I love watching her perform ‘What now my love’ I have many favourites. She manages to put tragedy into her performance, it is almost like opera. It’s so hard to choose just one. I also think ‘This is my life’ is amazing. To watch her perform this song is an emotional experience.

Have you met her? 

No, unfortunately not.  I came close, when I was performing at the Monte Carlo Bay Hotel, in Monte Carlo, which was within view of her apartment, sadly she was on her way that very day, to the UK, to film the Dame Edna experience.  Her P.A. told me it was a shame as she may have been able to arrange something. Our paths have yet to cross but there is hopefully still time!

How many times have you seen her live?

I have seen her live twice. Once at the NEC Birmingham and the last time was in 2009 at the Roundhouse. The Roundhouse was an intimate performance to promote her album ‘The Performance’. I had the privilege of being right at the front and remember looking at her feet and shoes. I wish I’d seen her live on more occasions. I do have an impressive collection of her concerts on DVD though.

Tell us how you came about performing in her honour? 

It was 2002 when I became aware of the tribute market, and there was no-one else I would have wanted to portray and pay tribute to.

She’s so distinctive, it must have taken a lot of work to perfect your tribute to her!

She certainly is distinctive, which in some ways is a good thing regarding an impersonation, as you have such a lot of distinctive ‘isms’ to put in. By the same token, she is incredibly difficult because she is so unique and utterly brilliant.  It is a never-ending work in progress, to portray Dame Shirley, and I can never get complacent with it. Huge attention has to be given to the stage wardrobe. To make the necessary impact, and to create the wow factor, one has to put the effort in. Dame Shirley’s stage wear is iconic, and it’s expected by her fans.

Where have you performed as Shirley, other than the UK?

All over Europe, the Middle East and America. I have performed on glitzy yachts in the Bay of Naples, at celebrity weddings in Cannes, for the cast and crew of the James Bond film Casino Royale in Prague; there have been so many fabulous events.

Audience feedback?

My most rewarding audience feedback, is always from the avid and devoted Shirley fans, who attend our theatre shows.  When we do meet and greet afterwards and they tell me how much they enjoyed our show, where and when they have seen her live, and what she wore etc, that is so rewarding.

Have you ever had any feedback from her or her associates?

Yes, I was lucky enough to perform at a charity event for Barnardo’s, endorsed by Dame Shirley herself, which included the auction of her gowns at Cafe de Paris, in London’s Piccadilly. I had the honour of performing a live set as Dame Shirley, whilst wearing one of Dame Shirley’s original gowns, which was then auctioned off by Christopher Biggins. Dame Shirley was in Monte Carlo and unable to attend, but she had sent her P.A. Jenny Kern, who came back stage to see me after my performance and said I had done a fantastic job.

Tell us a bit about yourself. Do you / have you done any other tribute shows? 

Performing is in my DNA, and I realised quite early that 9-5 was not for me and I wanted to sing.  My Father was performing on the club circuit and had all the necessary experience to pass on to me. I started to learn my trade for a number of years on the club circuit with him initially, and then by myself.  If you put your heart and soul into portraying Dame Shirley, she is more than enough for anyone!

Did someone say you’re a published author?

Yes, I have indeed written a book. It is such a crazy way to earn a living, that it inspired me to write a very comical memoir, which is called ‘Bling, Boas and Balls’, available on Amazon, in either hard back, or eBook format. As it says on the back of the book, ‘it is a laugh out loud account, of the trials and tribulations of a tribute act’

For tickets for ‘The Girl from Tiger Bay’: https://www.thedeco.co.uk/event/the-girl-from-tiger-bay/, call 01604 491005, or pop to The Deco in Abington Square, Northampton between 10am and 4pm, Monday to Saturday.

One of the most iconic buildings in Northampton town centre has completed its relaunch as The Old Savoy ‘The Home of the Deco Theatre’. And the new look has been given a massive ‘thumbs up’ by local people, with hundreds of enthusiastic comments on social media.

In a grand ceremony prior to the opening night of ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ – The Deco’s Christmas Panto – pensioners Ken and Doreen Ridley cut the tape, and declared the start of an exciting new era for the popular entertainment venue. Visitors to The Deco Panto, and future productions, now enter through the front doors, and into the foyer, as they would have done in days gone by. Previously, visitors entered by the side entrance.

Ken and Doreen, from Daventry, celebrate 67 years of marriage on December 20th, and as they have done since 2009, will mark the occasion with a visit to The Deco‘s Christmas Panto. It was where they first met back in 1948, when the building was then The Savoy. It was then a cinema, and as teenagers, they were there with friends to watch a film.

“We love Panto, and we have very fond memories of The Savoy,” said Doreen, now 87. “So when they started putting on Pantos it was a perfect way to celebrate our anniversary, we’ve been coming every year, and we absolutely love it.”

They are now treated as VIPs by Deco staff, and were the obvious choice to perform the opening ceremony of ‘The Old Savoy’ according to house manager Jill Roach. “We absolutely love Mr and Mrs Ridley, and they were the obvious and perfect choice to do the honour for us,” said Mrs Roach.

“They didn’t stop for the opening night – they want to enjoy our Panto as they now traditionally do on their anniversary, and it is our pleasure to host them each year.”

The Old Savoy originally opened its doors as The Savoy on May 2nd, 1936. It became The ABC in the 1960s, hosting concerts by The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, among other iconic bands of that era. More recently it has been The Jesus Centre, with The Deco operating within it as an independent, family run theatre.

Now Stage Right Productions, who manage The Deco, are looking after the whole building, running it as an entertainment venue, a community hub for the town, and making it available for hire for privately run conferences, events, business meetings, parties, and more.

“The response since the news about the relaunch was announced earlier in the year has been immense,” said Jill Roach. “But over the weekend, since we threw those doors open for the first time and rebranded the outside of the building, the response we’ve had on our various social media platforms as been truly wonderful and extremely positive.

“This is clearly regarded as a popular development for Northampton Town Centre, and we are thrilled to be giving this building back to the people of Northampton.”

The Deco Theatre is delighted to be hosting the award-winning, multi-sensory musical theatre company, Collar & Cuffs Co, when they perform the all-new ‘The Christmas Clock Returns’ in The Glen Suite on Sunday, December 8th – and we’ve saved the day by doing so!

Their popular Christmas children’s show is normally hosted at Delapre Abbey, but an administrative mishap left them potentially them with no venue. When The Deco heard about the problem, we were only too pleased to make our room available so that the organisers, the parents, and most importantly the children, were not disappointed.

“We’re absolutely delighted that The Deco has been able to step in and save the day, and can’t thank them enough” said Julia Collar, of Collar & Cuffs Co. “It was a genuine oversight, and the Delapre team feel really bad about what happened, but these things happen, it’s lovely that there’s a happy ending, and we can’t wait to be putting on our show at The Deco.”

‘The Christmas Clock Returns’ is a musical multisensory adventure about the excitement in the countdown to Christmas. Join the Spirits of Christmas exploring traditions of the festive season, and also discover lots of great tips for helping children cope with excitement and anticipation – a production suitable for children up to seven years old, and fully inclusive for special needs.

Said Julia: “It’s a very relaxed environment, with small audiences all inter-acting together and having fun, and we would love you to join us for one of the two performances we’ll be putting on at The Deco on December 8th.”

For more information, visit http://www.collarandcuffs.org/the-christmas-clock.html

As a music loving young schoolgirl growing up in Northampton in the 1960s, Angie Marriott spent many a happy evening watching live bands at what was then The ABC – the iconic town centre building previously The Savoy, now hosting The Deco Theatre, and about to be relaunched as The Old Savoy.

When The Deco opened up the building to visitors during the recent Heritage Weekend, Angie decided it was time for a trip down Memory Lane, and was among those who joined the guided tours.

And she was in for a pleasant surprise. As she walked through the bar area, towards the main auditorium, she did a double take at a framed photograph hanging from the wall. To her astonishment, Angie realised she was in that photo, which was taken when ‪The Beatles played at The ABC in November 1963.

“I’d known the picture existed, but it was still a shock to see it framed on the wall, and it immediately brought back so many memories,” Angie told us. Now 69, she was just 13 years old when that photo (she’s on the left) was taken, and it was the second time that year she’d seen the Fab Four at The ABC. “They first played Northampton on March 27th, 1963, the day after their second LP, ‘Please, Please, Me’ was released.

“In March they were actually the supporting act to ‪Chris Montez and ‪Tommy Roe would you believe – but things had changed when they came back ‪on November 6th,” she said. “By this time they had really hit the big time; they were topping the bill by then, and it was at this concert where the picture was taken.

“Yes, I was screaming, as were most of the other female teenagers in the audience that night, but I also loved their music too – I’ve been a Beatles fan since they first burst on the scene, and I’m so proud and lucky to say I was able to see them play live, twice.”

Name some of the other biggest acts in the UK rock and pop world in the early 60s, and there’s a chance that Angie saw them at The ABC. “‪The Rolling Stones came here in 1965 and I was there then,” she remembered. “‪Del Shannon, ‪Billy Fury, ‪The Yardbirds with the very young ‪Jimmy Page and ‪Eric Clapton, ‪Gerry and The Pacemakers, ‪Gene Pitney, Manfred Mann, and many more; and among the comperes in those days were Jimmy Tarbuck, Dave Allen and Helen Shapiro!”

In those days, Angie lived in Kingsthorpe, and was a pupil at Notre Dame School in Northampton town centre. She would rush home from school, change, and then head into town on the bus to meet up with friends, who went to the concert with her.

“There were two older ones – Roy and Sandy – who we got to know: they would queue up all night to make sure we got the best tickets, and we were very lucky, we were always at the front thanks to them, and I have such happy memories of great times with lovely friends,” she said.

Of all the acts she saw at The ABC between 1963 and 1967, ‪The Beatles made the most impact. Now, 56 years on, she loves their music as much she ever has. “Their appeal was that they were four very talented individuals who blended perfectly together, created a beautiful sound, and wrote many of the greatest songs ever,” said Angie. “I was so disappointed when they split up in 1970, but we could all see it coming; I then followed their individual careers.”

Angie is delighted the building that was The ABC in her youth, having opened in 1936 as The Savoy, is now being re-branded as The Old Savoy, and becoming not just an entertainment venue, but a community hub for everyone to use.

“It’s wonderful news, absolutely fantastic, and it’s going to make such a big difference to the town centre,” she said. “For many people in the town it is a venue that gave them so many happy memories, and I’m sure it is going to make memories for many other people in the years ahead.”

The front of the iconic building that has been a fixture in Northampton town centre since 1936 is being rebranded.

What many people in the town still remember fondly as The Savoy is being relaunched as The Old Savoy, and visitors to shows at The Deco Theatre will be able to enter through the main doors from later this year.

As well as a facelift outside, visitors to the building will be able to celebrate the history and character inside the entertainment venue that opened as a ‘super-cinema’ 83 years ago, and famously hosted The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, among others, in the early 1960s.

The rebranding project is being driven by Northampton based Stage Right Productions, who have been running The Deco as an independent family-run enterprise since 2009, and host shows throughout the year, including sell-out Pantos each December. Stage Right will now be overseeing the running of the auditorium, and associated hires.

“We are absolutely thrilled by this opportunity to open up the front of this beautiful building to our audiences,” said Jill Roach, House Manager at The Deco. “That we are now in a position to do this is just so exciting.”

The Deco Theatre will retain its identity, but going forward will become ‘The Deco at the Old Savoy’, while plans for The Old Savoy will involve further development of the site as a creative arts and community hub for Northamptonshire.

“We feel that this is going to be a really popular development for Northampton Town Centre,” said Jill. “When we celebrated 80 years of the building in 2016 so many people spoke fondly about it, and shared lovely memories of days gone by, and this sentiment was echoed by visitors to our recent Heritage days.

“When we dropped hints about our plans, the response from visitors was not only very positive, but extremely enthusiastic, and we want this wonderful entertainment venue to stand proud and tall in the town as it did for many years.”

The building, owned by Northampton Borough Council, opened to the public as The Savoy, a cinema and theatre, on May 2nd, 1936, before becoming the ABC Cinema in 1961,  then taken over by Cannon in the 1980s, who ran it as a multiplex cinema until 1996, when it was allowed to become derelict.

The charity that acquired the lease in 2004 funded and restored the building under the guidance of English Heritage, with considerable donations from a local church. From then until recently it has operated as a hiring space for many agencies. Stage Right Productions will not only continue to operate the Deco theatre, but be further involved to help develop ‘The Old Savoy’ as a creative hub.

“When we open the famous front doors for the first time for a show, it will be the beginning of a new era for this fantastic building,” said Jill. “This is a wonderful opportunity, and it will take us to a new level in terms of what we can deliver, and offer to, our audiences – we are aiming to have everything in place in time for Panto in December.”

Former Northampton Girls School student Ellie-Rose Green will be making her professional performing debut in this Christmas’s Deco Theatre Panto, Jack and the Beanstalk.

Ellie Rose, 19, graduated from the acclaimed Italia Conti Academy, in Guilford, this summer, where she studied music and theatre. Since returning home to Northampton she has been working as a dance teacher, and is now counting the days to the Panto’s opening night, on December 6th.

“I’m just so excited to get this opportunity, and so soon after coming home, it’s really exciting,” said Ellie-Rose, who has been passionate about dancing since she took her first steps as a toddler. Indeed, it was as a dancer that she auditioned for a part in ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’, but Panto director Sam Munday-Webb spotted her potential to have a senior role in the production.

“I actually went along to audition as a senior dancer in the Panto, but Sam looked at my CV, asked me if I could sing, gave me a script to read, and then the opportunity to prove myself,” said Ellie-Rose. “Later that day he rang and offered me the part, which was fantastic.”

Among those who were quick to congratulate her was Charlee Marsh, the owner of the Starlight Musical Theatre and Dance School in Northampton, where Ellie-Rose now teaches on a Saturday, and where she was a student for 11 years, before going off to college in 2016.

“I am so proud of Ellie-Rose I could burst,” said Charlee. “She is such a talented young lady, who we know had a great future ahead of her from the moment she first joined us, when she was five years old; she’s a natural.”

Ellie-Rose, who lives in Abington, comes from more of a sporty family than a theatrical one: her father, Peter, is a well-known former local footballer, and her younger brother, Lewis, 16, is a talented player with Rushden and Diamonds. Her mum, Julie, is a local hairdresser.

She will play the Fairy in the Panto, and line-up alongside Chris Wills, Colin Ridgewell, Vikki Stone, Clive Fletcher, Fern Roach, and Sam Munday-Webb, who is combining the role of ‘Simple Simon’ with directing the show, as he did last year.

“It’s a fantastic cast, and it’s going to be another brilliant Deco Panto,” said Ellie-Rose. “I’m not only looking forward to working with the cast, but learning from them all, too, as I know I will.”

‘Jack and the Beanstalk’, at The Deco, runs from December 6th to 28th, and to see Ellie-Rose and the rest of the cast in ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ at the Deco Theatre in December, you can book tickets online at www.thedeco.co.uk, by telephone on 01604 491005, or by stopping by at The Deco, in Abington Square, Monday to Saturday, 10am to 4pm.

The multi award-winning comedian and musician Vikki Stone is completing the line-up for this year’s Deco Theatre Panto, ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’.

Vikki will the Panto ‘baddie’ between December 6th and 28th, playing Flesh Creep – a role she’s perfectly suited to, having been nominated twice for ‘Best Baddie’ in the annual British Panto Awards, and is very proud of.

“I absolutely love being the baddie, it’s fantastic fun, and the more I get booed and jeered the more I think I must be doing my job well,” she said. “I have loved Panto since I was a child, and it’s a privilege now for me to be among the performers on stage entertaining the audiences.”

Vikki will be lining up in ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ with Deco regulars Colin Ridgewell, Chris Wills, Clive Fletcher and Fern Roach. Ellie-Rose Green makes her professional debut, while Sam Munday-Webb both performs in, and directs the Panto, for the second year.

Said Vikki: “This is my first time at The Deco, but everyone made me so welcome at the photo-call, and I’m really looking forward to being involved in ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ – and having established a glowing reputation for the quality of its Pantos over the years, I’m looking forward to being part of another great show at a lovely theatre.”

Vikki, whose credits include is The Now Show on BBC Radio 4, The John Bishop Show on BBC One, and the BBC Proms Podcast, is very much a rising star, and Northampton audiences can see her in her own touring show ‘Song Bird’ at The Derngate on October 19th.

“Northampton is very blessed with its choice of great entertainment venues, and between them there is something for everyone, which is fantastic for local people,” said Vikki, whose show has earned her favourable comparisons to the late, great Victoria Wood.

To book tickets for ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ at The Deco, go online: https://www.thedeco.co.uk/event/jack-and-the-beanstalk/ or call the Box Office on 01604 491005.

After the success he had directing last year’s Christmas Panto ‘Cinderella’, Sam Munday Webb will be back at The Deco performing the same role this year, for ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’.

This time, Sam will be concentrating solely on his role as director, having doubled up last year as one of the ‘Ugly Sisters’, forming a superb, and hilarious, double act with Colin Ridgewell. But he wants to dedicate his total attention to putting on a fantastic Panto.

Indeed, The Deco is in perfect hands: Sam is a student of Panto, and an acknowledged expert in the field; he is also the executive producer of the Annual British Panto Awards, which he helped launch four years ago, and which is fast establishing itself as one of the big awards ceremonies of the showbiz calendar.

“I’m absolutely delighted to be working with The Deco again this year,” said Sam, who runs the Brackley Youth Theatre in the town where he lives, and has recently launched a consultancy offering specialist coaching in presentation skills. “The Deco’s a lovely theatre, and it has deservedly established itself as a venue for top class, and affordable, Panto for all the family.

“I absolutely loved every minute of last year’s Panto experience at The Deco; I wanted to create something fresh and modern, but embedded in tradition, and I certainly believe we succeeded.

“The cast were a pleasure to work with, the standard of the talented young singers and dancers supporting us was amazing, the audiences were awesome, the feedback was immense, and the team behind the scenes were fantastic and incredibly supportive.

“I didn’t need to think about it when I was offered the opportunity to do it again,” said Sam. “But this year I thought it best to totally dedicate myself to my duties as a director: playing one of the Ugly Sisters was great fun, and doing it with Colin was a laugh a minute, but I’m going to be totally hands-on behind the scenes.

If anyone knows what makes good Panto, it is Sammy – a Panto fanatic, be it as a performer, director, or a member of the audience, and he has a phenomenal knowledge of its history and tradition.

So as an expert in Panto, what makes a good show?

“For me personally, I love the relationship between audience and performer,” he said. “I love the freedom of interaction with the audience during the show; the off-the-cuff laughs that you can have, and adapting the script throughout the run to make it relevant to issues in the news.

“The camaraderie, banter, and respect among the cast last year made it a pleasure to turn up every day, during rehearsals and the run of the Panto, and if the audience see you all having fun together on stage, and enjoying it as much as they are, then you’re on to a winner.”

For tickets for ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ at The Deco: www.thedeco.co.uk, or call the Box Office on 01604 491005. Alternatively, call in at The Deco, on Abington Square, between 10am and 4pm, Monday to Saturday.

For more information about the Panto Awards, visit the website: https://www.pantomimeawards.co.uk/

The Deco Theatre is offering an amazing opportunity to youngsters between six and 17 years old during later this year, with the opportunity to take part in their Summer Holiday Youth Theatre Workshop in August.

The Workshop runs for a week from August 5th, from 10am to 4pm each day, with the finale, on Saturday, August 10th, when the youngsters will be performing the musical ‘Fame! Jr’ to a live audience at 2.30pm and 6.30pm.

For £155 – and £100 for siblings – youngsters taking part in the Workshop will spend a week learning, rehearsing and then performing two shows on the Saturday. The fee includes a DVD of the show, and two free tickets for one of the live performances; extra tickets cost £10.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for children from six to 17 to take part in a youth drama and dance project, in an actual theatre and performing on stage before a live audience at the end of the project,” said Jill Roach, House Manager at The Deco Theatre.

“This project has been incredibly successful since we started doing it a few years ago, with the finished product each time phenomenal, and we’re really excited to be doing it again this year.”

All participants are welcome to audition for main parts of the show. Those auditions will be held on Sunday, May 19th, from 10am to 1pm, and the following day, on Monday, May 20th from 5pm to 8pm. Call backs will be on Saturday 8th June from 2.30pm to 5.30pm.

‘Fame! Jr.’ is set during the last years of the “Fame School,” New York City’s celebrated High School for the Performing Arts on 46th Street (1980-1984). The musical follows the bittersweet but inspiring story of a diverse group of students as they commit to four years of gruelling artistic and academic work in order to achieve their dream of “hitting the heights” and putting their “name in lights.” But it’s not always plain sailing!

Please call The Deco theatre on 01604 491005 for a registration/audition pack or email us at hello@thedeco.co.uk.

 

TV quiz star and acclaimed comedian Paul Sinha is bringing his stand-up comedy show to Northampton’s Deco Theatre in June.

Paul, a qualified medical doctor, and now famous as one of the stars of the popular ITV quiz show The Chase, is coming to The Deco on Wednesday, June 5th. Paul is the headline act on a night of comedy that includes three talented support comedians, Chris Kent, Josh Pugh and Rich Wilson.

It’s Paul’s second visit to The Deco – he was star performer on a comedy night at the theatre in August 2013, when he went down a storm with the audience.

“Paul was hilarious when he was here five and a half years ago, and we’re delighted to be welcoming him back,” said The Deco’s House Manager, Jill Roach. “Paul is obviously a very clever man, and in the top 50 of the world’s best quizzers, a status he proves worthy of regularly on The Chase.

“But he is also an extremely talented stand-up performer who now travels all over the country, and indeed the world, entertaining audiences, and with a fantastic support cast that he brings with him, we’re looking forward to another great night of stand-up comedy at its very best!”

For tickets to see Paul Sinha – known to his fans on The Chase as ‘The Sinnerman’, and reknown for the white suits he wears on the show – perform his stand-up comedy routine, and his support act of talented comedians, call The Deco box office on 01604 491005, or book online: https://www.thedeco.co.uk/event/paul-sinah/.

 

 
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