FOR 100 years the Huddersfield Light Opera has been entertaining crowds with its pantos and plays.
And they’re holding a feel-good musical to mark their centenary year – Me and My Girl.
Their choice brings cast members old and new together, as well as touching on the history of the Huddersfield Light Opera Company (HLOC).
Me and My Girl is a stage musical which brings together the book and lyrics of Douglas Fuber and L Arthur Rose and music by Noel Gay.
First performed at the Victoria Palace, London, in 1937, it has been a West End and Broadway hit and tells the story of Bill Snibson, a Cockney from Lambeth who is found and named as the long-lost Earl of Hareford.
It seems that the 13th Earl had briefly wed a girl from a bad neighbourhood, but Bill’s rough Cockney ways do not satisfy the Will of the last Earl and in order to gain his inheritance of the title and estate he must satisfy the executors by learning gentlemanly manners. The executors think they can make Bill fit the part, but doubt Cockney Sally Smith’s credentials.
Now the HLOC has the task of bringing it to the Huddersfield stage.
Neil Broadbent takes the lead of Bill Snibson. Neil is well known to HLOC audiences having played parts in Half a Sixpence, Copacabana and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers before now.
He won rave reviews as Za Za wearing original costumes from the West End Production of La Cage aux Folles and last year he was Lumiere in Beauty and the Beast.
Joining him is Zoe Baker, who plays Sally Smith. A professionally trained dancer, Zoe has travelled around working on cruise ships. When she left her professional career she came home to Huddersfield and started her own dancing school with her mother Pamela Strickland, who directs Me and My Girl.
The Strickland Cook Theatre School will have some of their senior girls dancing in this production.
Like Neil, Zoe has done many shows with HLOC and has worked alongside Neil in Copacabana and West Side Story.
Pam Strickland said: “So for us this year it’s good that we have them back together again doing what they do best – acting, singing and dancing.”
Dominic Moccia, who plays the Hon Gerald Bolinbroke, joins the cast as one of its newest principals, but he’s already been seen in Carousel, La Cage aux Folles and Beauty and the Beast where he played a superb Gaston.
And it will be a family affair for he plays opposite his wife in real life Holly Comber-Moccia as Lady Jacqueline Carstone.
Paul Bennett who plays the Family Solicitor Herbert Parchester is also very well known in Brighouse and Huddersfield and co-produces HLOC pantomimes every year with Chris Brearley.
It’s not the first time HLOC have produced Me and My Girl – it was their show for 1954 at the Theatre Royal. Noel Gay, who wrote the original music score, even paid them a visit.
And this year they have warm wishes from a household name who starred in the West End version of the play – Robert Lindsay.
The star of TV shows such as Citizen Cane and My Family, he appeared in 1984 London revival, winning an Olivier Award for his part and a Tony award when he moved to New York for its Broadway run.
The Company contacted him and he sent a message for its cast and congratulated HLOC on their centenary.
Me and My Girl runs at the LBT from April 23-28 with a matinee at 2.15pm on the Saturday.
For tickets contact the LBT Box Office on 01484 430528 or visit www.thelbt.org.