New Chichester musical offers a light-hearted look at love and friendship
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North Dorset-based Susan Grant and Joni de Winter will be offering the show at Chichester College on Thursday, November 16 at 7.30pm (the bar opens at 7pm) – a light-hearted look at love, friendship and the trials and tribulations of being a performer.
As Susan explains: “We live in Shaftesbury in Dorset and Bell Street is the street the arts centre is on. Joni and I sang together in cabaret and from there people said that we should perform together. So we did and we took the name Bell Street and added an e. We're an events band primarily. We do parties and so on but theatre and musical theatre is a real passion for us. Joni and I work really well together because I think we have a similar sense of humour and similar goals and a similar pace of work. We like to work hard but we also have a sense of winging it when we have to. And we both like a bottle of prosecco! It lubricates things nicely but I think we also have a similar outlook artistically. We can communicate without actually speaking sometimes and that's great.
“We started as a trio initially six years ago and then during the lockdowns obviously things changed for everyone but Joni and I decided that we wanted to carry on regardless. We ended up taking ourselves out as a duo for lockdown parties of six people. We followed the rules always! In the last three and a half years we've really been pushing ourselves as the duo and we love doing gigs and things. But we started thinking that going out as the two of us, it would be nice to be able to start writing together and just getting a bit more creative.”
And that’s how Hugh: The Musical was born, as Joni explains: “The idea for the show came from the song Natural Woman, the Carole King song. We realised that when your diction gets a bit lazy because you've had too much prosecco, then you start saying Hugh not you… ‘I will always love Hugh’… ‘Hugh make me feel like a natural woman.’ So we started writing a parody musical. You never actually meet Hugh. What has evolved is that it's a musical about two performers who are out performing an unfinished musical and just trying to make the best of it. It is a mickey-take of romcoms and the 1990s vibe that you need to be married by the time you're 30 and that you need to change as a woman. And actually it's about a letter that ends up with these two friends and they both think the letter is for them.”
As Susan says, the letter is from Hugh: “And unfortunately it sounds like Hugh is a bit of a stalker. It is the two performers questioning what is happening but also questioning how stalkerish Hugh actually is.
“Originally we had a very basic version of this for the Shaftesbury Festival in July 2022. We had a very rough plot and most of the songs written but the day before we performed we found ourselves crying on the floor thinking that we were going to really embarrass ourselves but actually we won best in fringe and we sold out. We had 80 people packed into the room.”
Chichester Fringe returns for three shows this November at Chichester College. The shows will be on Thursday, November 16 and Friday, November 17 at the Riverside Theatre. Tickets via V2 Tickets. NHS and concessionary tickets are available for all three November events and parking is free. Prices start at £5. See www.chichesterfringe.co.uk/whats-on.
First up is A Day to Remember, Thursday, November 16, 2.30pm (the bar opens at 2pm). Singer and storyteller Alice Applewood offers the story of Doris Day told through song; she’s remembered as the ideal woman of her time, an icon with the perfect smile... Alice takes us behind the smile in this one-woman piece.
Completing the trio of shows is The Chichester Fringe Cabaret Show on Friday, November 17 November at 7pm (the bar opens at 6.30pm). MC’d by comedian Natalie Bryce, with magician Mark Flynn and guest vocalists Eddie Cole and Olivia Westall.