Back on one of the first days of this century, I found myself in the Gloucestershire town of Chipping Sodbury with m’colleague Steve. We’d been writing a sitcom based there for a few months leading up to that point and decided it was probably a good idea to go check it out, to see if it had as much potential for comedy as we were attributing to it. It did, but not in the ways we’d imagined. So we bought local newspapers (which I still have and are still funny and as soon as I finish this post, I’m off to see if I can find out what happened to a particular journalist who had maybe eight of the most boring local news stories one could imagine), we bought pints and we did a double take at a poster advertising the local am-dram group’s production of something called Frankenstein — The Panto.

Tonight, I attended Larbert Operatic Society’s opening night performance of Jekyll & Hyde — The Musical, and as I was flipping through the programme, I noticed that they, too, had given the Frankenstein Panto doo-dah a shot a few years ago. It made me wonder if perhaps it’s more famous than an incredulous Steve and I had given it credit for. It also made me wonder if anyone has considered American Psycho — The Ballet. And if not, why not?

The show, tonight, was good fun if perhaps a little slow in the opening act and generally a little long overall. I’m not a fan of musicals and probably wouldn’t thank you for tickets to a professional production, other than through politeness. Musicals, it seems, make unreasonable demands on the audience’s willingness to suspend disbelief, far, far more than a play. Thoughts like, yes this is all very well and good … but do you know you’re singing? … for reasons never fully explored, are never far from the front of my mind. This prejudice aside, there’s something quite endearing about seeing local productions, especially when I end up surprised by knowing or working beside a few of the cast members during our other, more mundane 9 to 5 lives.

Highlights of the evening; Stuart Baillie’s portrayal of Sir Danvers Carew, a duet shared between the two leading ladies, Tracey Allen and Kirsty Fleming, and a couple of the ensemble numbers were very impressive as a spectacle. It would be cruel to single out any less than impressive performances, but I can’t resist recalling the generosity of one of the performers giving us a separate, unadvertised treat of Round The World in 80 Accents during the course of the 2 hour show. My favourite was Jamaican.

I mentioned last year after seeing Arsenic & Old Lace in Alloa, it amazes and pleases me in equal measures that there is so much creativity on the go in a 10 mile radius. If the same could be said about Chipping Sodbury and surrounding environs at the turn of the century, it would maybe have given their journalists something worth writing about. Poor sod.

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