Avid readers of this blog, I have ‘em you know, are aware that the general theme is sticking my oar into primed and polished productions strutting their individual stuff on some sundry stage. Audience opinion distilled into one shaft of highly personal piece of coruscating wisdom or woefully crass comment. Take your pick. But like it or lump it, folks come for a look. Nearly 20,000 hits and rising. I reckon it is because recorded comment, anywhere, is all theatre folk have when the greasepaint comes off and the costumes stacked away. Books, films, paintings, records, all are there forever. Live theatre remains only in the memory. So words, any words, give a life beyond the production. That is my excuse.
So what, you may ask, is my excuse for shamelessly promoting a production yet to take place? It aint my style. I am the maverick outsider confirming or denying the plaudits eagerly gathered in that culminating week of theatrical energy. All shows sweat for weeks and months, trials and traumas abound, before setting their fare before a paying public which either sings in praise or spits in disapproval. Such is theatre, a fickle beast. No, it aint my style but, in life, there are always exceptions to the general rule. In my Luton News reviewing days a constant joy was penning a piece on the Colin Smith Youth Theatre Productions. I always had a spring in my step when I went along to Stuart Farrar’s shows. Even the ones I didn’t particularly like as shows. That spring came because I knew I was in for an evening of inventive energy and incredible youthful talent. I loved their West Side Story, one of those shows I do not particularly care for, was bowled over by Les Miserables, and enjoyed a stunning Chorus Line so much I went back to see it again. Paper reviewers, even humble local ones, do not do that. And around about the time I put down my Luton News pen, Stuart Farrar and the CSYTP did the same. Called it a day, that is. In the history of local theatre in Luton it should be recorded, quite rightly, that they were much more missed than me.
But now they are back. It may only be a one off given precarious finances but Stuart Farrar is reviving the group for a summer special at the Library Theatre. It is called Summer of 78 and, given the synopsis, looks very much like Back to the Future with music. Some pretty awesome young talent went through the company’s hands in the earlier days, three members have performed in the west end and others have appeared on television. The new group is made up of aspiring 13-18 year olds being given a chance to perform on stage. You can guarantee that amongst them there will be two or three of exceptional talent. Mr Farrar has a nose for quality performers. Like Terry Mills with his St Andrews Stage One performers, Stuart Farrar is doing his community bit for tomorrow’s theatre performers. And like the estimable Mr Mills he is doing it without any funding, as far as I know, from those local great or good who run the town of Luton. Theatre folk come pretty low in the general pecking order of financial support. It was ever thus.
The trustees of the defunct Wheatsheaf Players are going to do their bit with a slice of sponsorship to help them on their way. You can do yours by turning up in droves in the second week in May. ‘Blame it on the Boogie’, ‘Fantasy’, ‘When I Need You’, and many more. I reckon it will be good. It will certainly be welcome. Roy Hall
Summer of 78
Luton Library Theatre
Thurs 8th to Saturday 10th May (7.30pm – Saturday matinee 2.30pm)
Tickets £9 (adult) £7 (child) £28 (family)
Theatre Box Office 01582 878100
Ticket Hotline (24hour) 07825 569105