Monday, 28 November 2016

Hit the Stage, Jack!

It's official!

Jack and the Beanstalk rehearsals are well and truly underway, and we're ready to put on another fantastic show, jam-packed with comedy, live music and fun for all the family.

We've been busy putting the wheels in motion over the last month, with work beginning on scenery and costumes, publicity stunts in the pipeline and our cast, chorus and dancers working exceptionally hard on the script and songs.

Some of our team even whisked themselves off to Disneyland Paris, where our very own Jack took the opportunity to have a go at climbing a beanstalk in readiness for February!

So, without further ado, we'd like to introduce the first of this year's cast members: Michael Mullin as the titular Jack.

The hero of the tale, Jack is thrust into the spotlight when the unfriendly neighborhood giant kidnaps the princess and he, being head over heels in love with her, sets off on a daring rescue.

Michael's first pantomime was our 2014 offering, Robinson Crusoe, in which he played Man Friday. Since then, he's played PC Wong (Aladdin, 2015), Chuckles the Jester (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, 2016) and Judah (Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat).

Outside of the Strollers, Michael is a founder member of the Isle of Wight Shakespeare Company, and has directed shows for both their adult and youth productions, as well as playing all manner of parts and even picking up an Isle of Wight Amateur Theatre Award in the process!

In 2014, he also appeared in Black Iris Events' production of Little Shop of Horrors as the hilarious florist shop owner, Mr Mushnik.

Usually found playing a comedic character in our productions, this is Michael's first outing as a principal boy for The Wight Strollers, and it's safe to say he's smashing it!

But will he be up to the task of rescuing the beautiful Princess Primrose?

Beth Batchelor certainly hopes so!

Starring as our principal girl this year, you can find out more about Princess Primrose and the lovely Beth in our next blog post - coming soon!


Jack and the Beanstalk will be coming to Medina Theatre on February 18th, 19th and 25th 2017 - tickets go on sale on Tuesday 3rd January at just £8 for adults and £7 for under-14s, with all proceeds going to Island charities. Save the dates and don't miss out!

Monday, 12 September 2016

Summer with the Strollers

What a whirlwind of a summer we've had!

We've been super busy, so busy that we simply haven't had time to blog about it, so we'll take you on a whistle-stop tour of what we've been up to...

With Joseph over, we did a top-speed turn-around and launched ourselves into carnival season with this year's entry: Dirty Dancing!

Dressed as cleaning ladies, complete with bright pink hair rollers and carpet sweepers, we danced through the streets to 'I Want to Break Free' and 'Greased Lightning', performing kicks, flicks and hip-wiggles and picking up trophies as we went.

Feedback, as always, has been excellent, and we're already musing on ideas for next year.

We also held our presentation for the proceeds of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and were overwhelmed once more by how much we were able to give away.

We presented a cheque for £3,500 to St Peter's Church, Shorwell, who were our partners for the production, and we presented a cheque for £2,000 to The Joe Ellis Trust.

To top it off, we also purchased our fifth Public Access Defibrillator for the Isle of Wight, which will be placed in the parish of Shorwell.

We've said it a hundred times before, and we'll say it again: thank-you, to every single person who supported Joseph, and to our spectacular cast and crew, without whom the show simply wouldn't have happened.

So, with the carnivals over and Joseph nicely wrapped up, we now turn our attention to our 2017 pantomime: Jack and the Beanstalk.

Set to be performed at Medina Theatre on February 18th, 19th and 25th, trust us when we say you'll want to save the dates!

It'll be our 'biggest' panto yet!

Over the summer, we also reached some pretty incredible milestones on our social media pages, topping 200 followers on Instagram and reaching a brilliant 500 followers on Twitter, while our Facebook page continued to grow and is now approaching 1,100 'likes'.

In honour of these awesome achievements, our next blog post will be all about our social media channels, so watch this space!

That's all for now, but stay tuned as we embark on our next pantomime adventure and keep an eye on the blog for more news and updates from The Wight Strollers. As we step into Autumn, we hope to bring you an insight into some of the behind-the-scenes happenings of the company, including our social media, our committee, our costume and scenery teams, and how we go about choosing our charities each year - it's all good stuff, you won't want to miss a word!

For now, though, it's one more big thank-you from us to all our supporters and we'll be checking in again soon.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Such A Dazzling Show Of Many Colours!


That really is the only word for it: wow. Three performances, four standing ovations - we couldn't be happier!

What a blast we had with Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat - to our cast, crew, band and audiences, we would like to say a huge thank-you on behalf of St. Peter's Church and The Wight Strollers.

The feedback has been overwhelming. It's flooded in and it's been absolutely spectacular, so we thought we'd share just a few of the comments with you, our wonderful blog readers.

The show was reviewed in the July 15th edition of the Isle of Wight County Press, and it was a glowing review of the show! Sadly it's not available online, but there were three other reviews written that are online for you to check out: one from Sardines Magazine, one from Mitch Hamer and another from Fern Alexander.

Meanwhile, our audiences took to social media to express how much they loved the show. Here are just a fraction of their many wonderful comments:

"What a way to spend a Saturday night, absolutely amazing from start to finish. Incredible costumes and scenery and so much talent. Well done everyone. Can't wait to see the next production."
- Lynda Waddams

"You were all brilliant...I much preferred your show to the West End one I saw some years ago. So proud of you all!"
- Scott Goddard

"Congratulations on an incredible show! Still singing the songs - proud of your amazing vision, Sarah , and the fantastic cast and crew for bringing it to life. I am a convert!"
- Jo Shannon

"The best musical I have seen outside of the West End."
- Peter Knowles

"Amazing performance...the effect you had on my autistic son was amazing, we were front row and he was spellbound - I came home emotional and humbled that he thoroughly enjoyed every second, so thank you."
- Michaela White

"What a brilliant show this evening. Amazing performers, every single one of you. Well deserved standing ovation."
- Vikki Roberts

"Had a fantastic time at the show this afternoon- thank you for making it so enjoyable. I know only too well how much hard work, energy and commitment goes into something to make it look that effortless! It was joyous, and that came from the sheer passion and enjoyment every single person on stage clearly felt. Well done. The best 'amateur ' (hate that word) I have ever seen on the Island. Sat there wishing I could have been a part of it! Special mention to my fabulous former students - Nick Weightman, Michael Mullin and Brad Barnley - but massive congrats to all!"
- Liz Segal

"A truly wonderful performance. Costumes, singing, everything was top notch...every single person taking part looked as if they were having the time of their lives.Well done and roll on the next pantomime."
- Sandra Davies

"It was a brilliant show. So professional. Anyone that didn't enjoy it, there must be something wrong with them. Well done everyone! What's next?"
- Jean Tayler

"Wow, oh wow! Think you should rename your latest production 'Sarah and her Technicolor Cast of many Talents!' Absolutely stunning show! What a spectacular production! Huge congratulations to everyone!"
- Stella Rogers

"A triumph for the whole company - Emily [was] by far the best the Narrator I have ever seen...A truly memorable and fabulous afternoon, thank you all so much."
- Howard Wilkie

There are dozens more comments like this and we wish we could share them all, we're so proud of everyone who was involved - what an absolute triumph!

Thank-you so much to everyone who came and supported the show, and watch this space to find out how much we'll be donating to our chosen charities!


If you enjoyed Joseph, don't miss out on The Wight Strollers' annual pantomime. Our next production will be Jack and the Beanstalk at Medina Theatre, Isle of Wight, on February 18th, 19th and 25th. Tickets will be on sale from the Medina Theatre Box Office in January 2017.

Monday, 4 July 2016

Notes from the Narrator...

Yesterday we had our band call, and last night I was listening to the recordings, over and over again. And then I had to stop and take a moment to breathe. This is really happening.

It's been a long time since I wrote a blog post from my own, personal point of view as a cast member - it hasn't happened since 2015, in fact, when we did Aladdin. 

But today, for this particular show, I'm making an exception.

Joseph has been one of my favourite musicals since I was eight years old and performed it at Brighstone Primary School. Back then, I was a sheaf of corn, a member of Potiphar's household and one of the Narrator's backing singers. I remember it so vividly, right down to the dance moves - in fact, I could probably still perform those routines now!

And I remember watching the Narrator and memorising every single one of their lines, desperately hoping that one day I'd have the chance to play the role.

Who'd have thought that a dream that started when I was eight years old would come to fruition eighteen years later?

I certainly didn't!

But then again, isn't Joseph all about dreams coming true?

So who is the Narrator? What is she? Why does she exist?

The Narrator is a strange part, and a challenging one, largely because she doesn't leave the stage for the duration of the show and there are few numbers in which she doesn't sing - four, to be exact.

She's removed from the story, but at the same time is very much a part of it, interacting with every single character and weaving her way through the plot, acting as a story-teller, instigator, adviser, friend and conscience all in one.

She introduces, she engineers, she antagonises, she influences - in short, she doesn't stop!

It's story-telling with a difference, and I love it. There's something to be said for telling a story through song, and what a privilege it is to be able to tell such a wonderful story as Joseph.

The Narrator's songs aren't the big hits, they're not the iconic numbers of Joseph or the globe-trotting songs of the Brothers...

In fact, with the exception of  'Prologue' and 'Pharaoh Story', she doesn't really have songs at all!

Hers are the little riffs you hum as you leave the theatre; the single lines you can't get out of your head for days on end, the split-second moments you remember even if you can't recall what came before or after!

She's there from the start of Joseph's journey to the end of it...which is really rather apt.

The Joseph journey, for me, began in January 2015, when I began looking into the possibility of performing Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat - now, nineteen months on and less than a week from curtain up, I can hardly believe it's really happening.

Some days, I legitimately have to pinch myself. And if you glance at me during the very first rendition of 'Any Dream Will Do', you will see me welling up every time, without fail.

Because this, to me, is perfect.

How can it not be?

Standing on stage, surrounded by some of the best and funniest and most talented people I know, when those opening chords sound I feel a sense of pride so overwhelming that it catches me off guard at every single rehearsal.

Joseph is, by far and away, the best and most wonderful show I have ever done. It's been a nineteen month rollercoaster from Canaan to Egypt and back, and I - along with the rest of the cast, I'm sure - can't quite get my head around the fact that it's almost over.

All that's left to do now is share the experience with an audience...


Make sure you're a member of our audience this weekend by booking your tickets! Either phone 01983 823884 between 10am and 2pm or visit the Medina Theatre website to book online at any time!

Saturday, 2 July 2016

He's Just A Dreamer...

The story of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is well-known and much loved among children and adults alike.

Taken from the book of Genesis, the story of Joseph the dreamer and his rise to fame and fortune as the Pharaoh's right-hand man is fast-paced and exciting. Joseph, one of twelve brothers, is the favourite son of Jacob.

Playing everyone's favourite dreamer is Nick Weightman, who joined the company in 2014, playing the title role in our February 2015 pantomime, Aladdin. In our 2016 panto - Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs - he doubled as Merlin of the Mirror and Slurp the Henchman. But this is a different type of role entirely...


Nick, you've had some brilliant parts in your short time with us, but Joseph must surely take the cake! How did you feel when you were asked to play this iconic role?

Privileged. Honoured. It was such a long time ago now that I was asked, so thinking about it now is actually really weird!

How have the rehearsals been so far?

Incredible - so much fun. All the brothers have gelled so nicely, and everyone has really pulled together as a team. It's been absolutely brilliant.

So come on, you must have a favourite moment in the show. What is it?

My favourite moment...that's tricky, there are so many of them!

Well...I suppose we can let you have a top two - we're feeling generous!

I can have two? Okay...probably putting on my coat for the first time, I do like that bit. And I love shouting at the brothers, when they decide to leave [Egypt] and I get to just shout 'no!' and stop them in their tracks. I love that bit.

Shouting at your brothers? That doesn't sound very brotherly!

They threw me in a pit!

Fair point! They do deserve it, I suppose! I know they throw you in a pit, sell you into slavery and are genuinely rather mean to you, but if you had to choose a favourite brother, who would it be?

Probably Zebulun. He is quite the character - he's a bit of a joker, but in a really good, funny way.

He's certainly got a cracking sense of humour! And a brilliant voice, too! But then again, so have you - your 'Close Every Door' made a few people cry (in a good way!) at the last rehearsal. What's your favourite song in the show?

To sing or overall?

Let's roll with both.

My favourite song in the whole show is 'Potiphar' - I love the Charleston feel of it. But my favourite song to sing is probably the finale version of 'Any Dream Will Do' with all the harmonies and the 'Give me my coloured coat' bit - I love singing that."

Good choices! Speaking of the coat, what was it like seeing that for the first time?

Amazing. It's just incredible.

There are 29 colours in that coat - which one is your favourite?

It genuinely is azure!

I thought you were only saying that to give the kids a hand in the 'Colour Challenge' at our workshops!

No, I really like it! And orange. I like orange.

Nice, bright colours. So, Nick, why should people buy tickets to see Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat?

It's very, very rare to see this show on this scale done on the Island, let alone by an amateur company, and the standard is so high. And, without sounding too big-headed, I'm also really looking forward to people seeing me as the lead in a musical - this is my big break!

That's sweet! And finally, what are you most looking forward to about being in the theatre?

Being able to see the set in its proper place, and seeing how high up that top podium is going to be looking out over the audience - it's going to be insane.

It certainly is - as someone else who runs up to that podium, I can second that! Thanks so much for chatting, Nick - and the very best of luck for the show. You really are the perfect Joseph!

To see the wonderful Nick Weightman in action as Joseph, all you need to do is phone 01983 823884 or visit the Medina Theatre website to book your tickets for July 9th and 10th.

Friday, 1 July 2016

Honest As Coconuts: Banter With Benjamin

Ches Checkley-Hill joined The Wight Strollers in September 2014 as part of the cast for our February 2015 production of Aladdin. He has since gone from strength to strength in our chorus and has this year taken his first principal role, as Benjamin in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

We thought we'd have a catch-up with the lovely Ches to see how he's been finding it! So, Ches, how did it feel to be asked to play Benjamin?

Fantastic! It's genuinely one of the best opportunities of my life.

And this is your first part with the Strollers, isn't it?

It is!

So what was your first show with the company?

Aladdin in 2015 - it was my first pantomime and I got to dress up as a woman, so it was a pretty good first show with the company!

Only since 2015? It feels like you've been with us a lot longer, I have to say! What's your favourite thing about being in The Wight Strollers?

Just everything. I can't pinpoint what's so great about it - just everything. I love it.

That's always nice to hear! And what about Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, what's your favourite thing about that?

Just being on the stage, singing and dancing, and getting to be a part of such an incredible show with such amazing people.

And if you had to choose a favourite song, what would it be?

The Benjamin Calypso! Obviously!

Obviously! Alright then, off the back of that, who's your favourite brother?

Judah. Definitely. Mostly because he begs for my life - that's quite a good way of becoming someone's favourite brother!

It most certainly is - we won't spoil the story by letting everyone know if he succeeds! Of course, Judah's just one of Benjamin's eleven brothers - what's it been like being one of twelve siblings?

It's just like one big family, to be honest. We might as well be brothers, we get along really well. It's great - they're all fantastic and it's wonderful to see it all coming together with everyone now.

You also stepped in a few weeks ago to double up as the Butler, didn't you? How are you finding that?

I like it! It's definitely typecast, because he's a bit of a camp character, so you know, I'm loving it - it's definitely been fun to double up.

We're less than a week from showtime now, so what are you most looking forward to about getting into the theatre?

There's so many things! Wearing all the costumes, putting on all the make-up, getting into character for an audience - doing all of that is fantastic.

It certainly gets the adrenaline pumping! Why do you think people should buy a ticket to see the show?

Because it's an amazing show! It's so fantastic; from the sets to the dancing to the acting to the costumes and everything, it's all fantastic. Everyone needs to see it.

And, to finish, a question we'll be asking all interviewed cast members: what's your favourite colour?


That's a favourite colour you share with your favourite brother, I think! Thanks so much for chatting, Ches - and the very best of luck in your first principal role with The Wight Strollers. I think I speak for everyone when I say you're going to absolutely smash it!


To see Ches in action as Benjamin, book your tickets for Joseph at Medina Theatre on July 9th and 10th 2016 by visiting or by phoning 01983 823884.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Wonderful Workshops!

Over the last six weeks, Team Joseph have created a sub-team: Team Workshop. This particular team of people, led by yours truly, have been visiting schools and community groups around the Island delivering free workshops to children to help them gain confidence, try out singing and dancing and have some fun with the story of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

And the feedback has been wonderful.

The workshops contained a mixture of games, vocal warm-up exercises, singing and dancing, with each group learning two songs from the show: Any Dream Will Do and Benjamin Calypso. 

Each group also took home our 'Design A Dreamcoat' worksheet, and all those returned by the deadline will be displayed at Medina Theatre during the run.

We thought it would be nice to share just some of the feedback with you, and give Team Workshop some recognition for all their hard work.

"It was wonderful of the cast members to give us a day of [their] time and provide the children with such a great experience...the children loved it and they all thought you guys were great."
- Carisbrooke C of E Primary School

"It was great to have you all's really humbling to know there are folks out there prepared to give up their time for children and to share their talent and passion for the arts with them."
- Haylands Primary School

"Thank-you Team Joseph for a brilliant workshop...the children were really inspired. Your 'Fat Camel' galloping game has caught on with Year 6!"
- Brighstone C of E Primary School

Thank-you so much to each and every member of Team Workshop for all their help, and to all the schools and community groups we visited for being so warm and welcoming, and to all the children who participated - what a credit all of them were to themselves, their parents, their schools and groups.


To see Team Workshop (and their dozens of fellow cast members!) in action, all you need to do is phone 01983 823884 or visit the Medina Theatre website to book your tickets  - we'll see you in July!