Hooray! York Musical Theatre Company cast raises a glass to Hollywood’s golden age ahead of Rowntree Theatre show

York Musical Theatre Company cast members Cat Foster, left, Henrietta Linnemann, John Haigh, Richard Bayton, Helen Spencer and Rachel Higgs dress the part for Hooray For Hollywood! at Nola in York

YORK Musical Theatre Company will offer escapism to Hollywood’s golden era after release from the pandemic lockdowns at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York.

The classic American cinema of the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s will be explored in song in the slick and sophisticated six-hander Hooray For Hollywood! from November 8 to 10.

Devised and directed by Paul Laidlawthe piece was first staged at York Theatre Royal Studio in 2007, and now Laidlaw reignites his show with a cast of six – Richard Bayton, Cat Foster, John Haigh, Rachel Higgs, Henrietta Linnemann and Helen Spencer in a nostalgic, whirlwind journey through the sounds of a bygone era from the MGM, Warner Bros, RKO and Universal studios.

Richard Bayton, left, and John Haigh raise a glass to Hooray For Hollywood! at Nola

“Packed with a classic collection of love songs, torch songs and comic numbers, Hooray For Hollywood! covers iconic artists such as Fred Astaire, Judy Garland, Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra to name just a few,” says Laidlaw, who recalls the premiere 14 years ago.

“We’ve actually performed the show at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre before, as well as at the York Theatre Royal Studio. As we head into our 120th year next year, it felt right to be a bit nostalgic and look back at some of our original pieces that audiences loved and revive them for new audiences.

“We loved performing The World Goes ’Round a few years ago and this show has a similar feel in that it’s a small cast and is fast paced and slick but will take the audience on a magical musical journey.”

Cocktail time for York Musical Theatre Company cast members Rachel Higgs, left, Henrietta Linnemann, Cat Foster and Helen Spencer at Nola

In the lead up to next month’s performances, Laidlaw’s cast members have been Puttin’ on the Ritz in a photo-shoot at the Nola jazz restaurant and bar in Lendal, designed to evoke the glitz and glamour of vintage Hollywood.

“Housed in the old congregational chapel on Lendal, the gold, mirrored decor of Nola was the perfect setting as the cast of six brushed up their white tie, tails and top hats – so to speak! – and posed with martini glasses in the 1920s’ Art Deco atmosphere,” says publicity officer Anna Mitchelson. 

“Richard, Cat, John, Rachel, Henrietta and Helen are now deep into rehearsals for the show, learning intricate harmonies and weaving famous Hollywood melodies together in a unique and clever way.”

Tickets for the 7.30pm performances cost £15, £12 for age 18 and under, on 01904 501935 or at josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk. 

York Musical Theatre Company say Hooray For Hollywood in escapist November show

Six of the best for Hooray For Hollywood: Paul Laidlaw’s cast for York Musical Theatre Company’s November show at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre

YORK Musical Theatre Company will head off to Hollywood in November with a desire for escapism from months of pandemic lockdowns.

Devised by director Paul Laidlaw, Hooray For Hollywood’s celebration of songs from Tinseltown’s golden age was first performed by YMTC at the York Theatre Royal Studio in 2007. 

From November 8 to 10 at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre, Laidlaw’s revival of his slick and sophisticated six-hander show will explore the musical masters of the classic Hollywood of the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s.

Laidlaw’s cast is made up of four women and two men: Cat Foster, Rachel Higgs, Henrietta Linnemann and Helen Spencer, joined by Richard Bayton and John Haigh.

This nostalgic, whirlwind journey through the sounds of Hollywood is packed with love songs, torch songs, and comic numbers from the bygone days of  Fred Astaire, Judy Garland, Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra.

Director Laidlaw says: “We’ve actually performed the show at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre before, as well as at the Theatre Royal Studio. As we head into our 120th year next year, it felt right to be a bit nostalgic and look back at some of our original pieces that audiences loved and revive them for new audiences.

“We loved performing The World Goes ’Round [a revue of Kander and Ebb’s songbook] a few years ago, and this show has a similar feel in that it’s a small cast and is fast paced and slick but will take the audience on a magical musical journey.”

Tickets for the three 7.30pm performances cost £15, £12 for age 18 and under, at josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk or on 01904 501935.

Livvy returns home to cast her spell over York Stage’s Jack And The Beanstalk panto

Livvy Evans: Returning to her home city to wave her wand as Fairy Mary in York Stage’s Jack And The Beanstalk. Picture: Charlie Kirkpatrick

MARCH 17, London. York-born musical actress Livvy Evans is one day away from the opening of her West End role in Tina: The Tina Turner Musical at the Aldwych Theatre.

“After two weeks of tech rehearsals, we were getting ready to open, but instead we got called in to say the theatre would be closing immediately,” she recalls, now sitting in a different theatre, back in the home city she left 13 years ago, as she prepares to play Fairy Mary in York Stage’s socially distanced, Covid-secure Jack And The Beanstalk at Theatre @ 41 Monkgate, York.

Livvy went from Simply The Best to simply the worst of times, as the Coronavirus pandemic left the West End deserted for month after month. “Initially, we expected to go back after a few weeks, but at the last meeting we had with the company managers they told us ticket sales were being taken off for January and February and now, as with most shows, they’re aiming for a spring reopening,” she says. In other words, at least a year of gathering cobwebs will have passed.

In her professional career, Livvy has been “lucky enough to pretty much go from theatre job to theatre job” in such shows as Soho Cinders, Motown at the Shaftesbury Theatre and UK tours of Sister Act and Ghost: The Musical. “When I have had a time where I haven’t worked, I’ve done nannying support in special needs, and I get a lot from it; it’s much more fulfilling than working in restaurants,” she says.

“But right now there just aren’t the jobs available for actors that they might otherwise tend to do in the quiet times, such as teaching or working in bars,” she adds, on top of the blow of no furlough pay. “And we’re being asked to go back for less pay and fewer shows when we do re-start.”

Glory be that Nik Briggs came a’calling, offering Livvy the chance to join his Jack And The Beanstalk company for the panto season. “It must have been the beginning of September, and at that point it still hadn’t been confirmed that Tina wouldn’t be opening this year,” Livvy recalls.

“So, I could only say ‘hopefully’, and I’d need to get permission from the Tina company, so it all took a long time. But once we knew Tina wouldn’t be opening, I said to Nik, ‘I’d love to do it’. I’ve been a professional for many years, but since leaving for London, I’ve never done a professional show in York. Leeds, yes, Bradford, yes, but not York.”

Brought up in Huntington, Livvy moved south to train in musical theatre on a full scholarship at Arts Educational, in Chiswick, London, in 2008. “I normally only spend four or five days in York, but this year it’ll be six weeks, which will be lovely,” she says.

“I don’t think I’ve ever played Fairy before, and the only panto princess I’ve done was Jasmine in Aladdin at the Grand Opera House in 2006 with Syd Little and Michael Starke, who I then did Sister Act with. I remember he used to call me his ‘little Peking duck, his little dumpling’ in the panto!”

Livvy will be performing with York Stage for the first time. “Strangely, I never did a York Stage Musicals show when I was young, but I did a lot of the summer school youth projects with Simon Barry at the Grand Opera House, doing my first professional job in Aladdin on the back of playing Audrey in Little Shop Of Horrors,” she recalls.

“I liked being put in with the older group for York Musical Theatre Company shows, working with Paul Laidlaw and Jim Welsman – and I loved playing little Kate Mullins in the British premiere of Titanic: The Musical for that company.”

As opening night of Jack And The Beanstalk approaches fast on Friday, Livvy says:  “It’s great to be in York, especially at this time of year, back in the house I grew up in, and I’ve never been so excited to be playing the Fairy, spreading joy to everyone, although she’s a no-nonsense fairy! As everyone keeps saying, I’m going to be the talk of my niece’s playground!”

York Stage presents Jack And The Beanstalk at Theatre @41 Monkgate, York, from December 11 to January 3; show times, Monday to Saturday, 2pm and 7pm; Sundays, 1pm and 6pm; Christmas Eve, 12 noon and 5pm; New Year’s Eve, 12 noon. Box office: online only at yorkstagepanto.com. Please note, audiences will be seated in household/support bubble groupings only. 

York Musical Theatre Company to mark Remembrance Sunday with online concert

York Musical Theatre Company singers Mick and Jessa Liversidge on a lockdown walk

YORK Musical Theatre Company will mark Remembrance Sunday with a sixth and final online concert of Covid-19 2020 on November 8 at 7.30pm.

As with each concert, producer and pianist Paul Laidlaw has put together a themed programme for Sunday evening, this one comprising much-loved songs complemented by poems and readings.

“With so many Remembrance events and services cancelled this year, we felt it only fitting to do an online concert marking Remembrance Sunday,” says YMTC publicist and performer Anna Mitchelson. “It’s our last online concert for 2020 and we hope to be back on live on stage as soon as we can in 2021.”

The York Musical Theatre Company poster for their Remembrance Sunday concert

Sunday’s concert will open with Paul Laidlaw’s piano rendition of Nimrod, followed by Chris Jay performing Bring Him Home; Martin Harvey, A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square and The White Cliffs Of Dover (piano) and David Martin, Tomorrow’s Dawn.

Next will be Moira Murphy’s performance of Johnny Head In Air (spoken), Charlotte Wetherell, Lili Marlene; Chris Gibson, The Sunshine Of Your Smile; Matthew Clare, Ode To The Eternal Sleep (piano) and Peter Wookie & Elly-Mai Mawson, Danny Boy.

Mick Liversidge will perform Bless ’Em All; Amy Lacy, Moonlight Serenade (clarinet); Mick & Jessa Liversidge, In Flanders Field; Flo Taylor, I Vow To Thee My Country; Moira Murphy, A Story Of Today (spoken), and Martin Lay, Roses Of Picardy.

After Jessa Liversidge’s Let The Great Big World Keep Turning, John Haigh’s contribution will be It Could Happen To You; Peter Wookie, The Poppy (spoken); Sam Coulson, I’ll Be Seeing You, and Helen Singhaten, We’ll Meet Again, the apt finale for both Remembrance Sunday and Lockdown 2. Off-stage But Online 6 will be live-streamed on York Musical Theatre Company’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCiTrGyeP93_to9uYOsvoS4w?view_as=subscriber

York Musical Theatre Company serve up Best Of British in Sunday’s online concert

Eleanor Leaper: After taking to the Rowntree Park Amphitheatre stage for York Stage Musicals’ Jukebox Divas concerts last month, she performs Wait A Bit for York Musical Theatre’s online concert on Sunday. Picture: Charlie Kirkpatrick

YORK Musical Theatre Company celebrate The Best Of British in Sunday night’s online concert.

“Expect lots of British musicals and composers. Lots of Lloyd Webber, Lionel Bart, Tim Minchin, a bit of Noel Coward and lots more,” says company publicist and regular cast member Anna Mitchelson.

Before you quibble, “but isn’t Tim Minchin Australian?”, the comedian, actor, writer, musician and songwriter was born in Northampton, England, to Australian parents, who then raised him in Perth, Australia. Happy 45th birthday to Tim next Wednesday, by the way.

Recorded remotely, Sunday’s 7.30pm programme opens with a group rendition of Who Will Buy?, from Oliver!, followed by Matthew Clare performing Cronos’ Plea, from Prometheus Bound, and Marlena Kelli and David Martin’s duet, Could We Start Again, Please?, from Jesus Christ Superstar,

Martin Harvey sings the title song from Tell Me On A Sunday; Eleanor Leaper, Wait A Bit, from Just So; Chris Jay, Eric Clapton’s Tears In Heaven; Chris Gibson, Leaning On A Lamp Post, from Me And My Girl, and Marlena Kelli, Sleepsong, from Secret Garden.

Mick Liversidge contributes Gonna Build A Mountain, from Stop The World I Want To Get Off; David Martin, Music Of The Night, from The Phantom Of The Opera; Peter Wookie, The Song That Goes Like This, from Monty Python’s Spamalot, and Mick and Jessa Liversidge, You And I, from Goodbye, Mr. Chips.

Moizie Murphy performs Noel Coward’s Epitaph For An Elderly Actress; Jessa Liversidge, My House, from Matilda The Musical, and Sam Coulson, the title song from Sunset Boulevard.

Musical director Paul Laidlaw, who has put Sunday’s programme together, closes the concert at the piano with an Ivor Novello tribute to Joan Welsman, who died last month. Her husband, Jim Welsman, is a former chairman of YMTC.

The Best Of British will be streamed on YMTC’s YouTube channel at:  


“How lucky we were to have known him” – York Musical Theatre Company remembers Richard Bainbridge in night of song online

Richard Bainbridge: Memorial online concert on Sunday to honour a year since his passing on July 5 2019

YORK Musical Theatre Company will mark the first anniversary of leading light Richard Bainbridge’s exit stage left on Sunday with a special online memorial concert.

Streamed on YMTC’s YouTube channel, the 7.30pm programme will celebrate Richard’s theatrical life with songs from all the shows he loved and the many he graced with the company.

Richard passed away last summer at the age of 64 after a long association with York Musical Theatre Company – formerly known as York Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society until 2002 – as actor, director and latterly company chairman.

Taking part on Sunday night will be Eleanor Leaper; Matthew Ainsworth; John Haigh; Florence Taylor; Moira Murphy; Amy Lacy; Rachel Higgs; Peter Wookie; Matthew Clare; Chris Gibson; Helen Singhateh and Jessa & Mick Liversidge.

“There’ll be a group performance from YMTC members too and we’re thrilled to have professional actor Samuel Edward-Cook – Sam Coulson in his YMTC days – back with us performing a special number,” says director Paul Laidlaw.

Sam’s back: York actor Samuel Edward-Cook, pictured in his leading role in Glory Dazed in 2019, will be returning to the York Musical Theatre Company ranks, albeit remotely, for Sunday’s online concert

He is keeping the running order and who will be singing each number under wraps as a surprise for Richard’s family.

Among those songs will be Oh, What A Beautiful Mornin’, from Oklahoma!; As Long As He Needs Me, from Oliver!; Tomorrow, from Annie; Mister Snow, from Carousel; Some Enchanted Evening, from South Pacific; Seeing Is Believing, from Aspects Of Love, and My Time Of Day, from Guys And Dolls.

“It’s hard to believe that a year has gone by since we lost our dear friend and colleague, Richard,” says Paul. “I think I can speak for the whole company when I say how much we still miss him.

“His enthusiasm, drive and, above all, his incredible sense of humour would have been a tonic in these extraordinary times. He would, of course, have been actively taking part in the Off-stage But Online concerts we are presenting under lockdown, and with a mixture of encouragement, bribery, coercion and threats he would have made sure that everyone else took part too.”

Looking ahead to Sunday’s memorial celebration, Paul says: “We wanted this next concert, falling on the anniversary of his death, to be dedicated to Richard. Many of the performers have fond memories of working alongside him and the song choices often reflect moments spent with him on stage. Happy memories, tinged with sadness of course but, oh, how lucky we were to have known him.”

To watch Sunday’s concert, type in the link: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCiTrGyeP93_to9uYOsvoS4w

York Musical Theatre Company go online for second digital performance on Sunday

AFTER the success of their inaugural Off-Stage But Online! concert on April 26, York Musical Theatre Company return with a second free digital performance on Sunday, live on the company’s YouTube channel from 7.30pm.

This weekend’s programme is compiled again by director Paul Laidlaw and features 25 numbers performed at home by Matthew Ainsworth, Jessa and Mick Liversidge, John Haigh, Eleanor Leaper, Chris Hagyard and Florence Taylor, among others.

Expect video recordings of numbers from Rent, Les Miserables, Heathers, A Chorus Line, Follies, Seven Brides For Seven Brothers, Company and Showboat.

Musical director John Atkin opens Off-Stage But Online 2! with the Star Wars theme on piano, leading into Chris Jay’s Till I Hear You Sing, from Love Never Dies; Holly Inch’s It Means Beautiful, from Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, and John Haigh and daughter Sofia’s Don’t Rain On My Parade, from Funny Girl.

Peter Wookie performs Ol’ Man River; Sarah Pollard and Charly Wetherell, For Good, from Wicked; Mick Liversidge, Bless Your Beautiful Hide, from Seven Brides For Seven Brothers; Kaia Stainton, Lifeboat, from Heathers; Matthew Clare, King Of The World, and Eleanor Leaper, No-One But You, from We Will Rock You.

Matthew Ainsworth’s pick, accompanied by “And All”, is Seasons Of Love, from Rent; Amy Lacey, I Have A Dream, from Mamma Mia!; John Atkin and Cathy Atkin, By My Side, from Godspell; Sarah Pollard, Holding Out For A Hero, from Footloose, and David Martin, Only Love, from The Scarlet Pimpernel.

Next, Charly Wetherell sings When Will My Life Begin?, from Tangled; Chris Mooney, Heaven On Their Minds, from Jesus Christ Superstar; Rachel Higgs, Taylor, The Latte Boy; Helen Barugh and Peter Wookie, Falling Slowly, from Once, and Jessa Liversidge, Losing My Mind, from Follies.

Matthew Ainsworth returns for Bring Him Home; Flo Taylor performs Nothing, from A Chorus Line; Chris Gibson, Anyone Can Whistle; Jessa and Mick Liversidge, It’s The Little Things, from Company, and John Haigh, Somewhere, from West Side Story.

To watch Sunday’s online concert, tap in: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCiTrGyeP93_to9uYOsvoS4w.

York Musical Theatre Company may be off stage, but tomorrow night they go digital

YORK Musical Theatre Company will present a digital concert, Off-Stage But Online!, tomorrow night on YouTube.

The 7.30pm show will feature 20 home-made videos from company members performing songs from the world of musical theatre, including Miss Saigon, Les Miserables, Guys And Dolls, Jesus Christ Superstar, Cabaret and more besides.

Company member and publicist Anna Mitchelson says: “People suggested what they’d like to sing and director Paul Laidlaw put the concert programme together.”

The digital concert will open with a lovely instrumental on the piano by musical director John Atkin: Music In The Night from The Phantom Of The Opera.

To follow will be: Amy Lacy singing Over The Rainbow (The Wizard Of Oz); Dave Martin, If I Can’t Love Her (Beauty And The Beast); Jessa Liversidge, Take Me To The World, and Matthew Clare, Out There (The Hunchback Of Notre Dame).

Jessa Liversidge: Two contributions to Off-Stage But Online!

Rachel Higgs will perform Someone To Watch Over Me from George Gershwin’s Oh, Kay!; Jessa and Mick Liversidge, Anything You Can Do (Annie Get Your Gun); Eleanor Leaper, Maybe This Time (Cabaret); Matthew Ainsworth, This Is Not Over Yet (Parade) and Holly Inch, The Spark Of Creation (Eden).

Chris Gibson’s choice is Poisoning Pigeons In The Park; Heather Richmond, I’d Give My Life For You (Miss Saigon); Mick Liversidge, Luck Be A Lady (Guys And Dolls); Marlena Kelli, I Don’t Know How To Love Him (Jesus Christ Superstar) and Chris Mooney, Hold Me In Your Heart (Kinky Boots).

Next will be Charlotte Wetherell’s rendition of What I Did For Love (A Chorus Line); John Haigh’s Who Should I Wake Up? (Cabaret); Chris Gibson and Marlena Kelli’s You’re Just In Love (Call Me Madam); Flo Taylor’s I Dreamed A Dream (Les Miserables) and Peter Wookie’s Stars (Les Miserables).

To watch online, type in the link: youtube.com/channel/UCiTrGyeP93_to9uYOsvoS4w?view_as=subscriber.