Bev Jones Music Company reopen Joseph Rowntree Theatre with Strictly Cabaret

Strictly Cabaret performers Chris Hagyard, Terry Ford, Larry Gibson and Claire Pulpher

THE Joseph Rowntree Theatre, in York, reopens its doors tonight with Covid-secure measures, socially distanced seating plan and the first of three performances of Strictly Cabaret.

Bev Jones Music Company principals Claire Pulpher, Chris Hagyard, Terry Ford and Larry Gibson will don their finest to entertain with a glittering cabaret set of their favourites at 7.30pm, to be followed by 2.30pm and 7.30pm performances tomorrow.

“Rat Pack, swing style, top musicals, film favourites, you name it, they will sing it,” says producer Lesley Jones. “Just sit back, reflect upon the year, clear your minds and be thoroughly entertained in the manner befitting the Bev Jones Music Company.

“All the cast will be principal performers in our June production of Jesus Christ Superstar at Rowntree Park, directed by Claire, who will play Mary, alongside Chris as Judas, Terry as Caiaphas and Larry as Pilate.”

Under the present JoRo regulations for Step 3 reopening, the Bev Jones Music Company (BJMC) were permitted a company of only four. “That proved to be a headache,” admits Lesley. “How can you entice an audience to a BJMC show with so few cast members? But by offering diversification in content, I think we’ve pulled it off by aiming at all age groups.”

Claire Pulpher: Performing songs from Hamilton and Wicked, Alto’s Lament and a Whitney dancefloor filler

Introducing the Strictly Cabaret programme, Lesley says: “In a forward-thinking move, Claire sings songs from Hamilton and Wicked and the hilarious Alto’s Lament, then changes style with a superb dance-based Whitney Houston number, I Wanna Dance With Somebody.

“Chris sings the powerful Pity The Child from Chess, the ever popular I Believe, plus a great swing performance of Mack The Knife and Cry Me A River; Terry performs Stars from Les Miserables, How Wonderful You Are and Tomorrow Never Comes, and Larry has chosen Luck Be A Lady, his favourite rock number from Chess, The Arbiter, plus the swing number The Lady Is A Tramp.”

Anything else, Lesley? “They’ll also all sing duets, trios and big group numbers, such as There Is Nothin’ Like A Dame and songs from Cabaret, Joseph and Abba,” she says.

“You can expect lots of humour and fun, plus power and pathos, but it was important to offer a chink of light after these dark days and hopefully remind people of a positive future.”

For tickets, go to: josephrowntree.co.uk. Jesus Christ Superstar will be staged at the Rowntree Park Amphitheatre, York, on June 12, 3pm, and June 13, 2pm and 5pm; same box office.

Bev Jones Music Company to perform Strictly Live In The Park at Rowntree Park

The Bev Jones Music Company cast in rehearsal at York Maze for Strictly Live In The Park

THE Bev Jones Music Company will stage a full-sized musical theatre concert with more than 20 socially distanced singers and a five-piece band at the Rowntree Park Amphitheatre, York, on September 13.

Strictly Live In The Park promises a “spectacular show for all the family, with popular show music, pop music, dance and comedy” from 3pm to 5m.

“York deserves this fun Sunday afternoon,” says producer Lesley Jones, Bev’s widow. “We just want to give the public, mainly families, the chance to enjoy entertainment once more.

Bev Jones Music Company cast members maintaining social-distancing at the Rowntree Park Amphitheatre

“The cast are so happy to be performing once again, especially when our big spring production, Calamity Jane, was cancelled by the lockdown in March, just four days before the curtain would have gone up.”

The first York community theatre company to stage a musical theatre concert on this scale since the easing of lockdown, the Bev Jones Music Company will perform “typical Bev Jones spectacular music”.

“All the music was arranged by Bev, the company mentor, so we’ll have a huge variety with numbers from Adele to Robbie Williams, Cabaret to Hairspray, Mack & Mabel to South Pacific, The Full Monty to Chess, Miss Saigon to the finale, Les Miserables,” says Lesley.

The Strictly Live In The Park poster for the September 13 concert

“Every number has been changed to suit the current guidelines regarding singing and live music. The huge dance numbers are limited but we’re adapting what we can.” 

The company rehearsed at York Maze for the first time last week. “We only get three rehearsals to put this show together, because we cannot rehearse indoors yet, and thankfully the Maze allowed us those three rehearsals,” says a grateful Lesley.  

“We have directed the show ourselves; John Atkin is the musical director with his five-piece band; Claire Pulpher is the choreographer and all our usual cast members are performing.”

Taking shape: First day of rehearsals for Strictly Live In The Park at York Maze

Among the company for this Not For Profit production will be Chris Hagyard, Sally Lewis, Larry Gibson, Terry Ford, Kelly Bolland and two returning members, who had moved on to become full-time professional performers, Nathan Lodge and Jordan Langford.

“Our concert has been risk assessed thoroughly and all audience members will have hand sanitisers and temperature checks, plus all seating will be in socially distanced, marked-out bubbles. All the cast will be checked too,” says Lesley. 

“Picnic blankets, rugs and chairs are welcome, as are picnics as there’ll be no public refreshments on sale, in line with Government guidelines. We’ll have a large number of stewards to offer assistance and all safeguards will be in place to ensure that people feel happy and safe in every way.” 

Strictly Live In The Park is strictly an all-ticket event, with tickets on sale on 01904 501935 or at josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk. Seats will be sold in bubbles for two (£15) or up to six people (£30).