Pickering Musical Society present wartime revue as the town celebrates its annual forties weekend (From Gazette & Herald)
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Pickering Musical Society present wartime revue as the town celebrates its annual forties weekend
MEMORIES were reignited and new ones created as thousands of people stepped back in time to wartime Britain at the weekend.
Pickering was transported to 1943 with entertainment, mock air raids and period displays.
Organisers at the North Yorkshire Moors Railway have hailed the three-day event the most successful yet, and are considering extending it by an extra day to accommodate all the visitors.
Phil Bustard, marketing manager, said: “It was a hugely enjoyable weekend. The event’s popularity seems to increase each year.
“Pickering was at saturation point on Saturday and I am sure we will break all records with the number of visitors.”
The weekend began on Friday when schoolchildren found out what it was like to be a wartime evacuee by parading through Pickering with gas masks and name tags before boarding the train to Goathland.
One of the highlights of the weekend was the Saturday parade through Pickering with marching bands and military and civilian vehicles. Many visitors were dressed in wartime uniforms and fashions from the era which added to the atmosphere.
Jill Wiley, from York, visited the event in 1940s costume with family and friends from Chester and Buckinghamshire.
She said: “The majority of our clothes are vintage which we have collected over the years.
“We go to a number of events all over the country and prefer the fashion from this era is makes you feel more elegant.”
Another group of friends, who were visiting for the first time, were highly-impressed.
“We have come over from Hull and certainly feel more glamorous dressed like this.
“We are thoroughly enjoying ourselves, there is a lovely atmosphere and we will definitely be coming back next year.”
Levisham Station became Le Visham, where re-enactors and station staff recreated wartime scenarios, including a partisan attack. A French-style café and accordion player added to the authenticity.
Phil Green, a finance manager from Doncaster, was spending the weekend as German soldier Otto Gerber. A member of two re-enactment groups, he and his comrades attend events all over the country.
He said: “A lot of our members are ex-forces and we can be German or British, depending on the event.
“This weekend is a fantastic event and I think it is important the memories of the war are kept alive.”
Attractions at Goathland Station included a bomb disposal display, Home Guard, food kitchen and US Army tent.
Musical entertainment was provided by children singing, theatre groups and 1940s style comperes.
Heritage steam trains ran hourly along the line.
Phil Bustard added that the railway had organised the extravaganza single-handedly for 17 years and felt now was the time to get more people from Pickering involved.
“The event benefits local shops and businesses so perhaps now is the time to broaden the organising committee and perhaps start it on a Thursday to give people more time to see everything.”
Mr Bustard said people had travelled from all over the UK as well as Germany and Norway.
“I would also like to praise all the railway volunteers who helped make it happen.
“There was a great feeling around the town and a real buzz, it has been a phenomenal success.”
Revue recalls the cameraderie at home and overseas
Review: Somewhere in England, Pickering Musical Society at The Kirk Theatre
WITH a song and a joke and a smile the Second World War music hall was relocated in Pickering as ‘Thanks for the Memory’ rang out in a clear tenor voice above the well-drilled choral ranks of the Army and the Navy and the Air Force.
Camaraderie was the keynote of this year’s wartime entertainment production by Pickering Musical Society. It was evident in the first act ENSA-style song and dance routines of the male chorus with the reluctant Busy Bee in Arthur Askey mode – in bee costume, and reinforced by the half-sober drag queen ‘Falling In Love Again’ – and falling for the jokes of his service mates.
It was evident again in act two, on the Home Front, as we were treated to the pinnied and turbanned ladies’ chorus in their Doorstep Gossip routine, wrapping their troubles in dreams and stopping and shopping at the Co-op, recreating the good-humoured fortitude of the long-suffering wives and lovers and introducing a posh neighbour to their friendly circle with a good-humoured dressing down.
Camaraderie was even more obvious in the production itself as the company performers stepped into chorus numbers and stepped out in solos and duets, shifting the mood from nostalgic romance through comic interludes and into rousing patriotism to the tunes of the 1940s.
This variety was complemented by the evacuee children’s chorus which sang versions of ‘Singing In The Rain’ complete with twirling brollies, and ‘The White Cliffs of Dover’, with gusto.
The comedy was amusingly accentuated with Joke Time and an ‘Albert’ monologue, and the serious and sensitive romance of full chorus numbers was underscored by charming solo dance, appropriate lighting effects and authentic costumes, especially in the Music from the Movies celebration which opened Act Two.
This fine ensemble entertainment was well-supported by the musicians and the full-house audiences who showed their appreciation in the nostalgic sing-along medleys.
Congratulations to the producer, Maureen Symonds, and to the whole company on their 10th successful war show.
Review by Trevor Boag