New players stage classic TV sitcom

BEHIND THE COUNTER: Wayne Kelsall as Arkwright and Joe Champion as Granville in Open All Hours

BEHIND THE COUNTER: Wayne Kelsall as Arkwright and Joe Champion as Granville in Open All Hours

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NEW drama group Hog The Limelight are to make their performance debut next week, with a run of Open All Hours at Port St Mary Town Hall, starting on Wednesday (January 30) continuing until February 2.

The TV sitcom’s famous corner shop will be brought to life for the stage, with star turns expected from the local cast.

Wayne Kelsall is the stammering star of the show, Arkwright, a character made famous by Ronnie Barker in the original series, penned by Last of the Summer Wine writer Roy Clarke.

Catie Angus will appear as the object of Arkwright’s affections, Nurse Gladys Emanuelle, with Joe Champion filling David Jason’s shoes as shop assistant Granville.

‘The group was set up in the middle of last year and it’s made up of people who are members of other groups such as the Rushen Players,’ explained director Norman McGregor Edwards.

‘The idea is to do different sorts of drama, particularly large scale comedies. It’s a pretty experienced group of players. Wayne is a superb mimic, and he mimics Arkwright more than anyone else.’

Roy Clarke is reputed not to allow his work to be reproduced, so the Hogs felt lucky to get the go-ahead for Open All Hours.

They were surprised to learn the series had been twice adapted for stage, once in Australia, and once in Surrey. They contacted the English group, who put them in touch with Mr Clarke’s agent.

The unexpected response was ‘yes’, and in fact the license arrived on Monday.

‘They’re usually signed by agents, but this is signed by Roy himself,’ said Norman. ‘It shows he’s taken an interest.’

So with only a week to go how is it taking shape? ‘It’s going very well. People who know Open All Hours will recognise episodes, but they’re modified slightly for stage,’ said Norman. ‘Though we do have an interesting method of showing what is going on outside the shop.’

He added they’d had tremendous help from Shoprite in stocking the ‘shop’, and that Billy Newton has done a fabulous job building the set.

Finally, with a show as popular as Open All Hours, is there a concern the audience are out to see a kind of tribute act?

Norman explained: ‘You have to keep characters as close as possible. Rushen Players did ‘Allo ‘Allo and kept it faithful. That said, it’s never exactly the same, and little things and moves add to it.’

He described the re-opened Town Hall as ‘brilliant’, and added that each night there will also be a raffle, to win the contents of Arkwright’s special hamper.

Tickets, £8 (£5 for children) are available from Calvert’s Newsagents (Port St Mary Post Office) on 833116, and Mal’s Butchers, Station Road, Port Erin, on 832116.

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