They wanted something fun, something upbeat, something for all the family. And so they’ve opted for The Music Man.
Chichester’s CAOS Musical Productions will be staging the celebrated musical – a big hit at Chichester Festival Theatre a few years ago in a production starring Brian Conley– from May 26-30 at their new home, the Millennium Theatre, Westbourne House School, just outside Chichester.
CAOS chairman Elizabeth Peacock, who will be playing the mayor’s wife in the show, said: “It’s an ambitious one to do, but we have a fantastic cast, about 23 adults, and we have two teams of 11 children. Quite a lot of them come from Jessie Younghusband School and others are the cast’s family.
“We wanted to put on a feel-good family show, something that would attract everyone and and put some money into our society. Like everybody else, we have been struggling a bit recently, and we need to put bums on seats. The best way is to give everyone a feel-good family show in a lovely venue.
“The show is set in Iowa at the beginning of the 1900s, around 1912, I should think, and they are very straight-laced, the townsfolk there. Everything is quite serious with them, and then this man comes along on the train, a man by the name of Harold Hill, and he is a salesman – though he doesn’t ever seem to sell anything very much. He offers as much flannel as he possibly can. People buy things, but they don’t ever see them, and he himself moves on to the next town.
“But for some reason best known to him, he sees a need in Iowa for a band. He persuades the people that they need a band because a pool table is being put in, and he is trying to persuade parents away from the pool table, telling them how wicked it is. He says if they had a band, the children would be pulled back from it and they would be all together as a community.
“He manages to persuade them, but the mayor and the townsfolk and especially the librarian, Marian Paroo, are anti him. They can see through him, and they try to get some information about his background. But the townspeople don’t really like Marian very much. They think she thinks she is better than they are. Harold has to try to persuade Marian that a band is what the town needs.”
Elizabeth is convinced it will all add up to the happiest of evenings, as well as being a big boost to CAOS.
“I think these days people’s priorities are not really going to the theatre. There is pressure on money, but actually we are in a reasonable position. We have certainly got a fabulous venue and a very good orchestra and MD and a very good director.
“We are also keeping the costs down as much as possible. We are doing a lot of things in-house, which makes it sound cheap and shoddy, but it really isn’t. We are just trying very hard to keep the costs down so that we can keep the ticket prices reasonable.”
Tickets are available from www.ticketsource.co.uk/caoschichester
There will be a matinee performance on the Saturday, after which the audience is invited to stay to picnic. Equally, the evening audience is welcome to come early to picnic before the show.
Tickets on 0333 666 3366.