Peterborough Operatic and Dramatic Society (PODS) are renowned for the quality of their musical productions. This year they’re setting their sights higher than ever – literally – with a production of The Witches of Eastwick at the Key Theatre that involves singing, dancing, some raunchy magic, and a bit of flying... Toby Venables investigates
It’s a first for Peterborough,’ says director Rob Bristow. ‘It’s never been done here before.’ In fact, PODS will be one of the first amateur companies in the UK to perform the musical comedy version of The Witches of Eastwick. Based on the film starring Jack Nicholson, Cher, Susan Sarandon and Michelle Pfeiffer, it not only means stepping into some very big shoes – it also brings some awesome technical challenges.
‘There’s a character who has to vomit up things like tennis balls, coins, feathers and Coke cans. That’s quite a big thing for an amateur company to do!’
‘We’ve got lots of magic in this show,’ says Rob. ‘There’s a character called Felicia who has to vomit up things like tennis balls, coins, feathers and Coke cans. That’s quite a big thing for an amateur company to do!’ And then there’s the flying… ‘It’s not on broomsticks. We’re going to fly these three witches on wires, the same way that they did in the West End production. It’s the first time ever at the Key that they will have flown anybody in this way. We’re really lucky that our technical manager works at the Royal Opera House. He helps us to do a lot of things that many other amateur companies wouldn’t be attempting.’
The story is set in a quiet suburban town in New England. ‘Everything seems perfect, but you have these three misfits – bored, divorced women who wish for this perfect man to come into their lives.’ The next day the devilish Darryl Van Horne turns up, and, little by little, all hell breaks loose… ‘You’ve got these three women – one a writer, one a cellist, one a sculptress – and he helps them explore their hidden passions for their art. And it becomes quite raunchy!’ Inevitably, they whip up a bit of a frenzy in the community, and as things start to spiral out of control the three women realise they have to overthrow Darryl and put things right. ‘There’s a lot of magic and mayhem and flying and a few scantily clad women… And it is really funny, with some great music, some great songs and dance routines. A fun night out, and really fresh.
‘I think people will be very surprised at how wonderful the three girls are. The harmonies that have been written for them to sing are just stunning – and it sounds like the West End company.’
Fresh it certainly is. In the past, PODS have been known for doing more traditional musicals, but Witches is something quite new, with a high proportion of younger people in its 30-strong cast. Amongst them is Doug Pattie, who has the unenviable task of taking on the Jack… [cont]
Peterborough Operatic and Dramatic Society (PODS) – flying tonight! 1 2