Organist John gets festive in Worthing

Organist John Mann maintains a proud Worthing tradition when he brings his Christmas Show to the Assembly Hall on Sunday, December 15 at 2pm, promising festive music and fun.

Brighton-based John’s summer shows in Worthing have been a popular feature for the past 32 years; so too have been his Christmas shows... though he is ringing the changes a little this year.

“It will have a slight twist to it this year,” John promises. “I am involving my fan club secretary Sarah Bryant who is quite a competent player. She used to be on the circuit as a young lady. We are going to be doing piano and organ duets together.”

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Also new for this year will be a stronger emphasis on comedy, with John reviving a number of comedy routines from his show band days. You can expect ‘cross-overs’. John will be doing a recitation called It’s A Funny Old World. The comedy will come from the interruptions.

As John explains, the idea of the comedy is to inject some more pace into the show: “There is more comedy for the Christmas show. I have tried to get a faster running. I want it to be slick.”

But John is at pains to point out that the comedy is perfectly safe. As he says, there will be nothing smutty.

“It’s just ha ha. My audiences certainly wouldn’t expect me to be smutty,” he says - though he is perfectly happy to be, well, just a little suggestive.

Music has always been the prime priority in John’s life, however. From an early age he showed his enthusiasm, and was quickly encouraged by his parents who saw where his interests were and directed him wisely by introducing him to piano lessons and buying him the all-important first instrument.

John’s Christmas show starts off with We Need A Little Christmas. There will also be a Scottish routine, plus music from Mary Poppins including A Spoonful of Sugar, with John stepping into the Dick van Dyke role.

“We have also got Sleigh Ride, and I will be doing Jesu, Joy Of Man’s Desiring, which is perhaps nothing to do with Christmas but sets the scene. I am also going to be doing some ballet music from Swan Lake.”

John will also be offering his Christmas show at Eastbourne and recalls the days when it was all part of a proper tour, taking in Bognor Regis, Worthing, Eastbourne, Hastings and Folkestone among other places.

But times change.

“Things are shutting down these days. These days everything has to be sponsored. Everything has got to make money. It’s also changing tastes as well. Young people don’t seem to have any retention for more than five seconds. They are on their phones 99 per cent of the time. That’s not healthy at all.

“But yes, tastes change. You can’t exactly go on forever. Nothing lasts forever, but in general they are running down things that you would like to see continue and that you can’t understand why they don’t.”