Scores of groups have done The Pajama Game – but how many of them also did a statistical breakdown of what it involved behind the scenes?
I hear from distant Dumfries that when Dumfries Musical & Operatic Society staged the show earlier this year the facts and figures of lifting and shifting were frightening.
Stage crew members moved chairs 39 times, stools 20 times, tables 16 times and desks a dozen.
They lifted uncounted telephones, sewing machines, baskets and bales of material. They shifted ten book flats, six folding tables, six Dictaphones, four easy chairs and two knifeboards, and they revolved 48 flats.
And that was in just one performance in a run that lasted nine days.
Once the daily figures are totted up, and including two dress rehearsals, it works out at 429 chairs, 220 stools, 176 tables, 132 desks, and assorted impedimenta, 44 easy chairs, 66 folding tables, 66 Dictaphones and 22 knifeboards – and those flats were turned 528 times.
Fortunately, the four crew members were helped whenever possible by two members of the cast.
The word amateur, as in amateur theatre, is based on the Latin word for love – and it shows!
And now, turning love into loyalty – which certainly can be based on a pretty deep affection – I must mention John Cheese, chairman of Erdington Operatic Society.
He last appeared on stage with the group, which has just presented an excellent account of Princess Ida, in The Yeomen of the Guard in 1998 – and this is entirely understandable, as he has lived for the last 14 years in deepest Worcestershire. In Malvern, in fact – where he has not altogether abandoned singing, as he is now a member of the choir at Holy Trinity, Malvern.
But he is as attentive as ever to his administrative duties on the Erdington OS committee, necessarily accompanied these days by a round trip of 90 miles to the group’s headquarters at the Methodist Hall in Streetly, and to ensuring that he does not miss seeing an annual production.
He explains, "I got so much out of it. Now I’m putting a bit back."
When a show actually comes to fruition, the director may be tempted to sit back and relax after the first night.
That bonus, if it is a bonus, came twice last week to Paul Millross, who had two shows running simultaneously. Playhouse Entertainment’s The Woman Who Cooked Her Husband was at Solihull Library Theatre and the Billesley Players’ Ladies in Retirement was at the Dovehouse Theatre, Solihull. They both closed on Saturday.
It is good to hear how a long-established theatre group is encouraging a new generation of enthusiasts.
Members of Studley Operatic Society, which is now past its centenary, are providing backstage support to students of Redditch and Bromsgove College as they prepare for their version of Jack and the Beanstalk, to be presented at the Woodrow Centre, Redditch, on Friday and Saturday next week.
The production features five students who are also involved in such necessities as costumes, lighting and selling tickets.
One of the funniest farces on the amateur circuit is Ray Cooney’s It Runs in the Family, which Lichfield Players are taking to the Lichfield Garrick on November 29.
And I do have to say that the group has given it the pre-publicity it deserves, with a press release that outlines the problems facing a neurology specialist whose naughty past with nurse Jane Tate catches up with him while he is preparing for a speech that is likely to earn him a knighthood.
"David invents husbands for Jane, pins paternity on his colleague and deceives a bewildered policeman as lie piles upon lie. His deceptions are further tangled by syringe-toting matrons, doctors in drag and dead patients who won’t stay still. Add crashing wheelchairs, squirting soda bottles and window-ledge wrestling with the matron, and the stage is set for a high-octane farce."
If that doesn’t turn a trickle of curiosity into a minor torrent, I don’t know what will. The production will run until December 2.
Work commitments prevented Paul Lumsden from becoming fully involved with Sutton Coldfield Musical Theatre Company’s production of The Wizard of Oz – but he was quick to volunteer his services backstage.
And as a bonus, he landed the role of Nikko, the flying monkey.
The show, involving a directorial debut by Sally Baxter, started last night at the Crescent Theatre, Birmingham, with Amy Dowd as Dorothy.
Our Country’s Good, Crescent Theatre, Birmingham (to Saturday).
Dead Ringer, Highbury Little Theatre, Sutton Coldfield (to Saturday).
Dangerous Obsession, Grange Players, Grange Playhouse, Walsall (to Saturday).
Strangers on a Train, Oldbury Repertory Players, Barlow Theatre, Langley (to Saturday).
Living Together, St John’s Players, ‘Swan Theatre, Worcester (to Saturday).
The Wizard of Oz, Sutton Coldfield Musical Theatre, Crescent Theatre, Birmingham (to Saturday).
South Pacific, Redditch Operatic Society, Palace Theatre, Redditch (to Saturday).
Heatstroke, Company of the Curtain, Parish Hall, Water Orton (to Saturday).
42nd Street, Spa Theatre Company, Royal Spa Centre, Leamington Spa (to Saturday).
The Real Thing, Second Thoughts, Stratford-upon-Avon Civic Hall (to Saturday).
A Bird in the Hand, Charlemont Dramatic Society, Charlemont Schools, West Bromwich (to Saturday).
Long John’s Treasure, Norbury Theatre, Droitwich (Saturday).
Into the Woods, St Augustine’s Musical Theatre Company, Solihull Library Theatre (Nov 20-25).
Love Letters on Blue Paper, Talisman Theatre, Kenilworth (Nov 20-25).
The Scarlet Pimpernel, Coventry Musical Theatre Society, Coventry College (Nov 21-25).
Son of Man, Solihull Society of Arts, The Gantry, Blossomfield Road, Solihull (Nov 22-25).
Sketchbook Variety Show, Norbury Youth Theatre, Droitwich (Nov 24 &25).