Blitzing the Brunton

April 7, 2019 | By | Reply More

MAMA take on Bart’s WW2 musical

Musselburgh Amateur Musical Association promise old-fashioned knees-up entertainment, delivered with a contemporary edge in their production of Blitz!, opening at the Brunton on Thursday for four performances only.

The show is Lionel Bart’s follow-up to his big hit, Oliver!. It is once again set in the East End of of London, but this time during the Blitz of WW2 – and based on his own experiences of growing up during the Blitz as a child.

The cast of Blitz!

When it was first staged, in 1962, it was the most expensive musical ever produced on the West End. But while it enjoyed a solid success with over 500 performances its subject matter never translated to the American market and it was never produced on Broadway.

Indeed, the script and score of Blitz! was lost sometime in the late Sixties and modern productions are only possible because an Australian fan of Bart, 19-year-old Andrew Jarrett, reassembled the show for a production on 1985 which was staged with Bart’s blessing.

pounding

In 1940 the East End of London might be taking a terrible pounding from the Luftwaffe’s bombs, but life goes on and develops new rhythms to cope with the strain of life.

The story focuses on two families, the Jewish Blitzteins and the Cockney Lockes. The major focus of the show is the matriarchal Mrs. Blitztein who sells herring on Petticoat Lane next door to Alfie Locke’s fruit stall.

Although the pair do not like each other, their children Carol Blitztein and Georgie Locke, are in love…

The setting might be the streets and underground stations of war-ravaged London, but director Graeme Aitken is equally aware that the show was written for the early Sixties and says that he has been keen to ensure that the humour and feel of the show do not appear dated.

“When producing some older musicals you need to ensure that you pay close attention to phrasing and setting of scenes,” Aitken says. “Whilst not necessarily changing the source material, how you interpret scenes can make a real difference as we live in a very different time to the 1960’s when Blitz! was written.”

The female company.

Just as most strong theatrical material can have resonance and relevance to different times – Oliver!’s depictions of poverty in Victorian London being a case in point – so Blitz! brings another set of relevance. Particularly with much of the Brexit debate harking back to war-time spirit.

“The subject matter of the show actually has a lot of resonance with today’s society, especially the division of the nation over Brexit,” says Richard Tebbutt, who is playing Alfie Locke.

“It’s been fascinating delving into the motivations of what can drive emotions of this type. In Alfie Locke’s case it’s mainly caused by jealousy of an individual combined with an upbringing in a different time, which transcends into racist behaviour on a wider scale.

“His voyage of discovery throughout the show as he actually gets to know the other characters mellows this behaviour, and should give us hope of the possibility of a more accepting society one day!”

The show’s big numbers include Who’s This Geezer Hitler?, Mums and Dads, and The Day After Tomorrow. The latter was written by Bart for Vera Lynn. Although Lynn never appeared in the musical, her recording of the song was heard on the radio during the first production.

Listings and links

Blitz!
The Brunton, Ladywell Way, Musselburgh EH21 6AA. Phone booking: 0131 665 2240.
Thursday 11 – Saturday 13 April 2019
Evenings: 7.30pm; Matinee Sat: 2pm.
Tickets and details: Book Here.

MAMA website: www.mamaonline.co.uk.
Facebook: @mamamusselburgh
Twitter: @MAMAmusselburgh.

ENDS

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