Oh! What a local war

Oh! What a local war

The set of Oh What a Lovely War

Rehearsals for the play

Director Mark Powell with chairman of Musical Theatre Salisbury Martyn Davies

First published in Entertainments by

TWO Salisbury Theatre Groups have joined forces for a special First World War show.

Salisbury Playhouse’s youth group Stage 65 has teamed up with Musical Theatre Salisbury to put on Oh What A Lovely War, which starts on August 4 – 100 years since the day Great Britain declared war on Germany.

Director Mark Powell said: “The show itself was created in 1963. In all its versions since it has been a generic representation of the First World War. Normally, you would have projections of certain facts and images but to make our show unique, and particularly relevant to the people in it and watching it, our projections will be specific images and details for the role Salisbury and Wiltshire played in the war.

“Otherwise what happens is it could be a bit like a broad history lesson, which tells you facts and shows you images you might already know. This was our chance to reinvent it and make it stand out over the many productions that will be happening in the next four years.”

Martyn Davies, chairman of MTS, added: “We wanted to engage it with the local and regional commemorations of the centenary. Our generation are 100 years removed from that war and a lot of people only know vaguely about it.”

The groups have worked very hard to put the show together, with dancing, singing and acting rehearsals. They even got put through their paces by a drill sergeant from Tidworth and a lot of the cast have done their own personal research into their characters.

Powell said the challenge for the actors is playing a variety of roles, with a variety of accents in different settings and playing different ages while making sure what they are doing is clear to the audience.

He said: “It’s a lively mix of facts, figures and fun, but it’s very fast moving.”

Davies added: “There are some hilariously comedic moments and some you just want to cry at. We’ve tried to make it understandable and something you can engage with, without forcing information on people.”

Both said it is a very exciting project for the Playhouse and MTS to be involved in together.

Powell said: “For us (Salisbury Playhouse) it was about engaging with the wider community of artists to commemorate the First World War in a very special way.

“Opening night will be huge, that centenary day. And I think we are unique in the UK in having that performance opportunity for this production.

“The Playhouse is normally dark in August but we wanted to have a performance during the summer. That was a challenge, putting on a production in a time we don’t normally but tickets sales are going extremely well.”

n Oh What A Lovely War is at Salisbury Playhouse from August 4 to 9 at 7.30pm, with a matinee on Saturday at 2.15pm.

For tickets call the box office on 01722 320333 or go to salisburyplayhouse.com.

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