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. 

Yorkshire’s Got Talent goes live on Sunday in fundraiser for Joseph Rowntree Theatre

Ed Atkin, winner of last year’s Yorkshire’s Got Talent competition, who will perform at Sunday’s showcase

YORKSHIRE’S Got Talent – Live! is NOT a contest, more a celebration of the best of the White Rose’s young dance, comedy and music performers, at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, on Sunday.

“This weekend’s show isn’t actually a competition,” explains Nathan Lodge. “The competition happened in 2020 throughout lockdown and concluded last September last year with Edward (Ed) Atkin as the overall winner.

“During the online contest, the group on Facebook reached more than 4,000 followers and the final public vote for the winner had 1,378 votes.” 

The competition was brought to life by York theatre student Hannah Wakelam, who wanted to raise money for the JoRo, where she first cut her performing teeth.

Nathan Lodge: One of the judges for last year’s contest, who will sing at Sunday’s show

“There were three judges throughout the process,” says Nathan, a West End regular and cruise-ship vocal captain, from York.  “Alongside me were Amelia Urukako, owner of Upstage Academy in Ripon, and Laura Pick, from Wakefield, who’s playing Elphaba in Wicked in the West End, all of us hailing from Yorkshire.”

The overall winner was decided by a combination of the judges, a public vote and a panel of theatre industry experts: Rachel Tucker, Kerry Ellis, Natalie Paris, Matthew Croke, Nicolas McClean and Paul Taylor-Mills.

“We promised the contestants who made the top 13 – the top ten plus three judges’ wildcards – that they could do a live show, so a year later, with a couple of date changes thanks to Covid!, we’re fulfilling our promise!”

2020 contestant Sam Rippon: In Sunday’s line-up for Yorkshire’s Got Talent – Live

Yorkshire’s Got Talent – Live features eight of the top ten acts from the competition: winner Ed Atkin, fellow finalists Fladam (Florence Poskitt and Adam Sowter) and Jordan Wright, plus contestants Sam Rippon, Daisy Winbolt-Robertson, Harvey Stevens, Florence Taylor and Richard Bayton.

“The evening will feature an eclectic mix of musical theatre, opera, comedy and dance, and we promise a thoroughly entertaining show, bursting with joie de vivre, from these stars of the future,” says Nathan.

The event will be hosted by Jordan Langford, from Scarborough, who will sing too. He had a career in musical theatre before becoming a theatre creative and is soon to study for an MA in contemporary directing practice at Rose Bruford College, London. 

Hannah Wakelam: York theatre student set up last year’s Yorkshire’s Got Talent contest to raise funds for the Joseph Rowntree Theatre

“Sadly, Laura Pick has a Sunday matinee schedule now in Wicked, post-Covid reopening, so she’s unable to perform with us but wishes she could,” says Nathan. “We’ll miss her!

“I’ll be performing in the evening, including singing a duet with winner Ed Atkin, who was my wildcard act to join the top ten of the competition. Just before the pandemic, I was the vocal captain performing on board M/S Color Fantasy.”

The band will be led by musical director Matthew Peter Clare on an evening when everyone will be giving their services for free. “Nobody is getting paid,” says Nathan. “Instead, all the profits from Sunday’s fundraiser will go to the Joseph Rowntree Theatre to add to the total raised by the competition last year.”

Tickets for the 7pm show are on sale 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.