Although I've been part of the SADOS concert group for the last few months, it's a couple of years since I've been involved in a full-blown musical production. The last one was in 2010, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. Since then I have taken a couple of years off (resting, darling) and hadn't planned to return to it just yet. But then I heard that the committee had changed its mind regarding the 2013 musical and instead of Jack the Ripper, which didn't much float my boat, they have decided on the gloriously silly Acorn Antiques - The Musical.
Some of you will have no idea what I'm talking about and why I'm excited about this but many of you who watched Victoria Wood's sketch shows in the mid 1980s will remember the spoof soap opera, with its wobbly sets, clunky dialogue and missed cues, and you'll be smiling as you read this. Not everyone realises that Victoria Wood turned Acorn Antiques into a stage musical in 2005 and although it had mixed reviews, it was a sell-out for its short duration. The production had its faults so was re-written for the touring production and it's this revised script which is now available for amateur groups to perform.
I have the script in front of me and it's so funny that all thoughts of dusting have gone clean out of my head. I now have to consider which part to audition for. Here are the main female characters:
The voluptuous, overwrought and lovelorn owner of Acorn Antiques - haughty, affected and sexually repressed. Originally played by Celia Imrie.
Character requirements: Playing age 40/50+ but could be played by a younger actress. Large amount of dialogue. Excellent acting and comedy skills with a good strong singing voice. Good mover.
Vocal range: Alto to 2nd Sop.
Miss Babs 'younger' twin sister. In love with Mr Clifford but pining for him as he has lost his memory and can't remember that they were engaged! Smilingly desperate! Originally played by Sally Ann Triplett.
Character requirements: Playing age 30/40+. Large amount of dialogue. Must have excellent singing voice and good comic timing/acting and dancing skills.
Vocal range: Alto to 2nd Sop.
The assertive, ruthless owner of The Guilty Bean chain of coffee shops. Finds out she is the long lost sister triplet of Miss Babs and Miss Berta. A "super bitch" who comes good! Originally played by Josie Lawrence.
Character requirements: Playing age 30/40+. Large amount of dialogue. Good acting and singing/moving ability needed.
Vocal range: Strong Alto, ability to do Sop (falsetto).
The cleaner of Acorn Antiques - revealed to be the mother of Miss Babs, Miss Berta and Miss Bonnie. Suffers from varicose veins and haemorrhoids but believes all problems can be solved by a nice cup of tea, a macaroon and an anecdote. Originally played by Julie Walters.
Character requirements: Playing age 60+ but can be cast using a much younger actress. Large amount of dialogue. A demanding but rewarding challenge for an actress who has great comic timing and a strong singing voice. Required to move well. Comic timing is paramount. Brummie accent.
Vocal range: Alto to 2nd Sop (plus some falsetto).
As in previous years, I tend to work quite hard before auditions and try out for a few roles. Sometimes I'm successful, sometimes not, but I like to put the work in beforehand. You can never tell who will turn up on the day so I find it best not to get my heart set on a particular character. But, so far, I rather fancy Miss Berta as she has a couple of good songs to sing, including a beautiful ballad, 'Remind Him'. Miss Babs is a possible but I think there are others in the group who could do her better. But, funnily enough, I am really tempted by Mrs Overall. Wouldn't it be great to play a really comic role for a change? So I'm going to give that one a go too. Which means serious work on my Birmingham accent. Mrs Overall's lines are just magic but everyone associates them with the inimitable Julie Walters. I'm working on lines such as this:
"Ooh that coffee's bitter. Maybe I should give up on your dad's old pants and get a cafetiere."
Mrs Overall has a rather splendid solo to sing: 'Macaroons' is exhausting just to listen to and singing in a Brummie accent whilst dancing with a stoop is no mean feat. Auditions are in January so I will let you all know in due course how I get on. And if I don't get any of the main parts then I won't be too disappointed as the chorus have plenty to keep them occupied, not least a tap dancing number.
In the meantime, to whet your appetite, here's Mrs Overall's song: