Fundraise on the First: First peek into Brookside Theatre’s Nights on Broadway show
PUBLISHED: 12:00 08 August 2015
The toe-tapping melodies of Grease ooze from a stage while a dozen young people laugh spiritedly, working to master an energetic hand jive.
This scene comes straight from the Brookside Theatre, where rehearsals are in full swing for Nights on Broadway, a concert celebrating the iconic West End and Broadway songs we all know and love.
The production, featuring both professional and amateur performers, is being staged in aid of the Recorder’s Fundraise on the First campaign with First Step – a children’s charity which supports the families of youngsters with special needs and disabilities.
To celebrate Nights on Broadway’s premiere in just one month’s time, the Recorder stopped by at the theatre in Eastern Road, Romford, to meet some of the singers and dancers.
The cast all attend different rehearsals, depending on which songs are included in the run-throughs, and it was a dozen young performers who had their moment in the spotlight last week.
Led by no-nonsense deputy manager Harri Sepple, the group worked on numbers such as Journey’s anthemic hit Don’t Stop Believin’, which is the closing number of Rock of Ages, the title track of Grease and Bye Bye Blackbird from Fosse.
Aspiring drama teacher Caroline Morrison, 22, from Harold Wood, has joined a Brookside production for the first time.
She said: “I have always loved performing, since I was a little kid. I attended dance school from the age of about six.
“I started to miss being part of a company and when I saw the advert for the show in the Recorder I rang up the theatre and came along to auditions.
“It has been about two or three weeks so far and I love it. It is very exciting; I am sure there are going to be lots more amazing songs, looking at what we have done so far.”
The young cast members showed themselves to have a strong rapport and provided many amusing and enjoyable moments, particularly during the hand jive scene.
There was exhilaration when they mastered the routine, which kept on getting faster, and then laughs and exclamations when their hands and heads deigned to co-operate.
Two teenagers particularly enjoying a giggle were friends Nicola Bruce and Amy Bennett, both 16, who have finished their GCSE studies at Frances Bardsley Academy for Girls.
Nicola performed in the theatre’s previous production of The Addams Family, while this is Amy’s first foray onto the stage, aside from school shows.
Nicola, who lives in Romford, said: “The Addams Family was the first show I ever did.
“I love this and it is great to be doing it for First Step, because one of my cousins, who is now in his 20s, has autism and went there before he started school.
“It is an amazing charity and it is lovely to be able to give back to them.”
Amy, also from Romford, added: “I didn’t even know the theatre was here before and now I tell everyone about it.
“Everyone here has been really welcoming.
“I like the relationship between the performers and the audience in theatre, there’s nothing else like it.”
During the light-hearted rehearsal, Harri both joked with the cast and brought a touch of firmness, encouraging the young people to give their all.
After a run-through of Don’t Stop Believin’, she told the performers to do it again with “100 times more energy” and during a practice of Bye Bye Blackbird joked, “Guys, you all look like you are going to a funeral!”
Nicola said: “Harri is a really good teacher – she is just amazing and encouraging.
“I am really excited for the show, it is so much fun.”
Nights on Broadway will run for five performances, between September 2-5. Of the £15 tickets, £9.45 will go to First Step, with £7.56 of £12 tickets going to the charity.
To book, call 01708 755775 or visit brooksidetheatre.com.