PREVIEW: Ruby weekend at Littlehampton

FORTY years of fun and entertainment are celebrated by the Chandler Variety Company at Littlehampton's Windmill Entertainment Centre.

The anniversary show, That's Entertainment, marks a significant milestone for the family-based company, which put on its first show to raise funds for St Margaret's Primary School, Angmering, and has continued to support good causes ever since, generating around 50,000 to date.

Eileen Chandler has been the mainstay of the group throughout that time, and over the years four generations of the Chandlers have joined her on the stage, including husband Ken, his parents Syd and Hilda in the early years, daughter Leigh and son Mark, and grandchildren including Charlotte Pullar and Dan Chandler, who both appear in the latest revue.

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"I'm as enthusiastic as ever," said Eileen. "I love it," between rehearsals for the show, with two evening performances at 7.30 on Friday and Saturday, and matines on Saturday and Sunday at 2.30.

The school show back in 1968 came about because Eileen was secretary of the PTA and then head teacher Leslie Baker encouraged her to involve children and parents in fund-raising productions.

Soon afterwards Leslie suggested Eileen should start holding revues and pantos, with help from Worthing societies, at Angmering Village Hall.

Over the years, the family has embraced many other performers, some appearing as guests in just one or two shows, but others becoming regulars, including Margaret Carter, who was in the first show, and still helps these days by making the refreshments.

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Charlotte, a talented dancer, has choreographed dance sequences for the forthcoming show and will also be dancing herself, while Dan has formed a small band to perform contemporary music. Leigh will also be treading the boards, while her husband Chris will be heavily involved backstage.

Still only 14, but a Chandler regular, Jack Northeast will be showing off his acting ability once more, and among the guests this time will be award-winning Littlehampton dance group Body Shock.

Altogether the cast of almost 30 will be performing more than 40 numbers and in her own inimitable style, Eileen has re-written the words to the song, That's Entertainment, to tell the story of her remarkable company's first 40 years.

Tickets for the show, price 8, or 28 for a party of four, are on sale now at the Windmill box office, telephone 01903 722224.


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