Director David sets the stage for colliery band stardom

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Seasoned director David Richardson is taking on his biggest theatrical challenge yet as he prepares to stage mining drama Brassed Off.

The Morpeth Rotarian has directed more than 50 amateur theatre shows in Whitby, Rothbury and Alnwick, and later this year will receive an honorary award from The National Operatic and Dramatic Society for 55 years of voluntary service to the art.

But his latest work for Alnwick Theatre Club will be his most ambitious to date, presenting a huge technical challenge and featuring the Ellington Colliery Band, both on stage and playing from the wings.

He said: “I was born in a mining area near Barnsley and I have been involved in theatre for more than 50 years, mainly in musical theatre, so this particular show has always appealed to me, with music and the miners’ strike. Knowing what happened with the strike, the miners losing jobs and communities failing, it is something that I have always wanted to direct.

“I came across Ellington Colliery Band as they perform a concert for Morpeth Rotary Club and I asked if they would be prepared to come on board for Brassed Off.

“It has taken over a year to get it off the ground because the show was being performed professionally last year so we weren’t allowed to do it, but after a lot of persuasion we have managed to get the licence.

“It is quite a challenge and it will be difficult to merge the band with the actors. We have only one rehearsal with the band before the production goes on so it is quite daunting.

“There are a lot of challenges involved, but everyone is so keen to take part and it is quite an exciting venture.

“As this was such a huge mining area, I thought it would appeal to the public so we’re hoping to get good houses for it.”

The band will give their services free for the dress rehearsal, but sponsorship is being sought to pay their expenses for the four performances.

“It is quite expensive to get all the band along for the performances,” said Mr Richardson.

“We have managed to raise somewhere in the region of £800, which is about half of what we need so we are still looking for sponsors. Anyone who donates will be mentioned in the programme.”

Brassed Off follows the fictional Grimley Colliery Band through the difficulties of the miners’ strike. It can be seen at Alnwick Playhouse from May 20 to 23, at 7.30pm. Tickets are available on 01665 510785.

To sponsor the band’s performance call Mr Richardson on 01669 622856.