SHE’S raised thousand of pounds for local charities and put on shows that pull in big audiences.
Now Doreen France is back with a show that fills the Lawrence Batley Theatre with music, song, comedy and dance.
Yes it’s showtime once more as Doreen France and Friends take over the theatre’s main stage for a fund-raising show which opens on Friday January 28 and runs for three performances.
The two evening shows are at 7.15pm with the Saturday matinee at 2.15pm.
Peter Armitage will as ever compere the show which has a cast of 60 and features a dance team of just over 30.
Doreen has brought together a company of performers from across the area, most of them from the amateur operatic companies that she has worked with over the years as actress, choreographer and director.
And while many will be familiar faces to those who go to local shows and concerts, some are making their debuts in Doreen’s annual extravaganza.
Norman Mellor, chairman of Honley Male Voice Choir, is much in demand as a soloist and as a member of the music group Reflections.
His co-singers in Reflections are singers Richard Cook and Diane Robinson who are both well-known in musical circles. Richard and Diane are favourites with audiences at Doreen’s annual fund-raising concert so why is this Norman’s first appearance.
“He says it’s because he’s never been asked!” says Doreen. “But now he has. I’ve known Norman for many years and we appeared together in Showboat many years ago at the lovely old Theatre Royal in Huddersfield.”
It’s fitting then that all four will open the show with a selection of songs from Showboat.
Doreen will also be welcoming a singer who is known by her stage name of Michaela.
“I’ve heard her sing with the GT Big Band in Bradford but she also has her own eight piece band called Cabaret and sings as a solo artist,” said Doreen.
“Michaela has sung in all kinds of venues and has worked alongside Gerry Marsden and Cannon and Ball. She appeared in TV’s Sounds Good with presenter Amanda Reddington from Music Box.”
This versatile singer does Frank Sinatra covers but sings everything from show tunes and big band classics to ballads and pop.
John Short, who Doreen describes as “friend and mentor” will travel from Hull to be in the show.
John is well known in operatic and music theatre circles as both an actor and as a director. He has worked with Doreen in shows over many years and will be a welcome addition to this year’s billing.
Comedy will be in the hands of two of Norman’s Honley Male Voice Choir colleagues David Ellis and David Jagger who deliver comic songs as The Two Davids.
Making a guest appearance will be Vivienne and Malcolm Payne with a Victoria Wood sketch which should keep audiences laughing.
Singers Christina Jagger and Rachel Clegg will be among the show’s solo stars and there will be plenty of showtime magic from Doreen’s group of 30 or so adult tap dancers.
Sue Gledhill, who has worked alongside Doreen choreographing on many shows as well as taking leading roles in both musicals and dramas, has her own spot in a feature with the Gingers Tap Team in which she recreates her role in the musical Mack and Mabel.
This year, the show will again be raising money for charities close to Doreen’s heart, the West Yorkshire Forget-Me-Not Trust, which aims to build a children’s hospice at Brackenhall; Small Steps, a parents’ support group based at the Ellerslie Centre at the Princess Royal Community Health Centre; plus Kirkwood Hospice.
For tickets, call the LBT box office on 01484 430528.