Milton Rooms to reopen with four May events as Scott Garnham becomes patron

Scott Garnham, the new Milton Rooms patron, pictured when playing the lead in Nativity in the West End, alongside the show’s “secret Santa”, Queen guitarist Brian May, no less

THE Milton Rooms is counting down the days until it can reopen its Malton doors with four events lined up to kick-start the May reawakening.

First up, Yorkshire singer and guitarist Martin Gough returns with his One Man Rock Show on May 21; next, the Dickens Society presents Dickens And The Language Of Flowers, a fascinating talk looking at the meaning of flowers and how the Victorians loved sending secret messages in a well-chosen bouquet, on May 23. 

Ryedale Blues Club resumes blues service with District Blues, a mix of Americana and rockabilly, on May 27, and 2018 Britain’s Got Talent star Mandy Muden brings her magic, cabaret and stand-up comedy to Malton on May 29.

The Market Place arts and community venue has a new patron, the award-winning Ryedale actor, singer and theatrical producer Scott Garnham, a local lad who first appeared at the Milton Rooms in 1995 in a Ryedale Youth Theatre production of The Boyfriend, aged ten.

As well as many annual Ryedale Youth Theatre productions, Scott appeared in multiple pantomimes at the Milton Rooms. He started in Little Red Riding Hood, then played Baby Bear in Goldilocks and the Three Bears. In his teens, he was either the comedy double act or village idiot in Dick Whittington, Aladdin, Goody Two Shoes and Jack And The Beanstalk and shined as Buttons in Cinderella.

After graduating from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, in Glasgow, he has carved out a career in the West End, notching up credits in Billy Elliot The Musical, Les Miserables and Made In Dagenham, as well as in Matt Lucas’s Pompidou for the BBC. He has created the international vocal group The Barricade Boys too, playing the Grand Opera House in York in March 2018.

“I will forever owe a huge debt to the Milton Rooms and the people who work so tirelessly to ensure this wonderful community building is still a key part of Malton and the surrounding area,” says Scott. 

‘’It was my first experience of ‘theatre’, being lucky enough to perform with a diverse group of ages, cultures and life experiences. I enjoyed dancing with friends at their many discos and found gifts attending art and craft fairs. 

‘’I feel lucky to have grown up where a community building, such as the Milton Rooms, played such a vital and important role in mine and many other people’s lives. Long may it continue.’’

The Milton Rooms’ Covid-safe accreditation has been extended for 2021 by UK tourism body Visit Britain. Under the Government’s roadmap out of Coronavirus lockdown, indoor entertainment venues are expected to be allowed to reopen after May 17 with Covid-secure restrictions in place.

Venue manager Lisa Rich says: “We’re delighted to have someone like Scott on board and we’re really excited at the prospect of being able to open again in a limited way in May and hopefully fully reopening if all restrictions are removed in June.’’

Tickets for all four events can be booked at: themiltonrooms.com/events/

Made In Dagenham cast made up by meeting with Rachael Maskell MP and West End actor Scott Garnham

Councillor Robert Webb, Kayleigh Oliver (playing Barbara Castle), Rachael Maskell MP, Martyn Hunter (playing Harold Wilson) and Councillor Anna Perrett at Sunday’s rehearsal run of Made In Dagenham

YORK Central MP Rachael Maskell and West End musical theatre star Scott Garnham, from Malton, popped along to Sunday’s rehearsal run of Made In Dagenham.

The session was open to York Residents Festival visitors as the Joseph Rowntree Theatre Company prepared for their fundraising musical production in aid of the Joseph Rowntree Theatre.

Presented by the JoRo’s in-house company, Made In Dagenham tells the true story of the beginning of the equal pay for women movement, focusing on the Ford strike at Dagenham in the 1960s.

The choice of show could not be more relevant because the York performances coincide with the 50th anniversary of the passing of Barbara Castle’s Equal Pay Act of 1970.

The Cortina girls and Buddy Cortina, from the Joseph Rowntree Theatre Company show, with Malton actor Scott Garnham, from the original West End production. of Made In Dagenham. Left to right: Lucy Plimmer, Jenny Jones, Ben Huntley, Scott Garnham, Karen Brunyee and Ashley Ginter.

The subject of equal pay and discrimination is close to Rachael Maskell’s heart, as the Labour MP spent many years as a union rep campaigning for equal rights. Re-elected at the December 12 General Election, she has been appointed as Shadow Secretary of State for Employment Rights. 

Addressing the company on the Rowntree Theatre stage, Ms Maskell said: “This is an inspirational story you are telling, and it remains a story of women at work today. If we don’t speak out, how do we expect things to change?”

She described the women of Dagenham as “sparky women who would not take no for an answer”, and urged the JoRo company to “go out there and keep fighting”.

Scott Garnham, who has performed many times on the Rowntree Theatre stage, appeared  in the original London production of Made in Dagenham in the role of Buddy Cortina.

The Joseph Rowntree Theatre Company’s fabulous machinists of Dagenham meet York Central MP Rachael Maskell and York councillors Robert Webb and Anna Perrett

In York last week for Friday’s tribute show The Best Of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons at the Grand Opera House, on Sunday Scott said: “To come and support this local community theatre is really important to me. I learned a lot of my stagecraft here in this building.

“The venue is a real hub for performers of all ages and backgrounds, and theatre is a very unifying experience. I’m so pleased that the Joseph Rowntree Theatre Company have chosen to do this show as their annual fundraiser.  It’s the story of a truly inspirational group of women, many of whom I had the great pleasure to meet.”

Despite its gritty subject matter, Made In Dagenham is described as a heart-warming story, full of humour, coupled with wonderful music. Although the show is not suitable for young children, on account of “some very strong language”, the company hopes to introduce a wide new audience to the sparky women of Dagenham.

Next week’s production runs from February 5 to 8 at 7.30pm nightly plus a 2.30pm Saturday matinee. Tickets are available on 01904 501935, at josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk or in person from the Haxby Road theatre’s box office.