Milborne Port Opera are staging their latest show, “Spring Fate” after Easter.
It is spring 1914. The war clouds are gathering over Europe and Sir Edward Grey, the British Foreign Secretary, is rehearsing his famous soundbite “The lights are going out all over Europe. We shall not see them lit again in our time”.
Are they bothered in Lancashire? –NO! The Earl of Westhoughton and his wife Lady Blackrod are preparing to host a lavish garden party and evening ‘do’ at their palatial mansion Anderton Hall. And what a party it will be, with hundreds of guests, and circus performers and international cabaret acts to entertain them in style.
But there are some tensions. No playwright worth his salt would write a play without tensions.
The fact is that neither the Earl nor his Uncle William (a famous explorer, newly returned from somewhere or other), are enjoying the best of marriages. And cousin Eugene has just been shot.
The unfortunate Eugene has placed some highly sensitive documents in the safe and the future of the British Empire depends on their contents remaining secret.
But the party is buzzing with spies, assassins and intriguers, all hell bent on getting hold of the papers. Some are disguised as aristocratic German tourists, others as circus performers.
And all of them can sing!
Combine these magical elements and you have Neil Edwards’ new comedy musical “Spring Fate”, his third work for Milborne Port Opera. The music has been inspired, re written or arranged from the work of Ivan Caryll a largely forgotten theatre composer from the 1900’s. A prolific writer, performed on both sides of the Atlantic, he had the record of 5 shows running simultanaously in London’s West End in 1905.
Caryll was the natural successor to Gilbert & Sullivan and was the agent who transformed light operetta into musical theatre at the dawning of the jazz age.
Neil Edwards is an accomplished writer and musician, as well as no mean performer.
His previous works at Milborne Port are “The Lost Continent of Love”, “The Murder at Shakerley House” and now, “Spring Fate”. All three share outlandish plots, outrageous characters, and wonderful humour, which you might compare with “Allo Allo” or the “Goon show”. The music is great too.
Milborne Port Opera is a small amateur company which regularly punches above its weight and wins awards. In its 26 years of existence it has performed every single work by Gilbert & Sullivan, as well as other musicals. It is rare among similar organisations in that it is prepared to take the risk to encourage and perform original works.
Spring Fate is accompanied by an 11 piece band under the direction of Caroline d’Cruz, recently nominated for the award of Best Musical Director in the Somerset Drama awards. Milborne Port won the “Show Stopper” award, and will no doubt be hoping for another next year.
The show runs at the Milborne Port Village Hall from April 8-10, the week after Easter. Tickets from firstname.lastname@example.org Telephone 07926 983585.
See if you can spot any Horsington residents on the stage or in the orchestra. There are three -Ed.