In 2017, after an absence of more than two years from theatre, I found myself in Conrad’s production of Anna of the Five Towns, an adaptation by Deborah McAndrew of the 1902 novel by Arnold Bennett, which ran at the New Vic in Newcastle-under-Lyme from 26th May to 17th June. It’s a coming-of-age story, set in the heart of the Staffordshire Potteries, against the backdrop of the struggle for profit on the one hand and the pressures to conform to the rigours of Methodist teaching on the other. I played three roles – an impoverished potter, a hellfire Methodist preacher and a wealthy patrician – and firmed up my lip to play cornet and euphonium.
It was a challenging and thrilling welcome back to the medium where my career started.
In December 2012 I finished working on my third production with Northern Broadsides, ‘A Government Inspector’, which was a new adaptation of Gogol’s 1836 classic by Deborah McAndrew.
The production, directed and composed by Conrad Nelson, opened in Harrogate on 7th September 2012 and toured to Winchester, Cheltenham, Lancaster, Scarborough, Huddersfield, Newcastle-under-Lyme (Stoke), Liverpool, Halifax and York. Warm reviews from The Independent and The Guardian were typical of the press response and reflected a consistent enthusiasm on the part of audiences.
I served up my Judge Fudge…
… and plenty of music! Challenging and thrilling by turns, this was the first time I’d ever played in a brass band.
The following trailer gives you a flavour of the feast.