Put that bleedin' light aht!

Musical Theatre Gisborne have set the stage for wartime hits and skits in Bless ‘em All.

Musical Theatre Gisborne have set the stage for wartime hits and skits in Bless ‘em All.

WHEN THE LIGHTS GO ON AGAIN: The cast of Musical Theatre Gisborne production Bless ‘Em All rehearse World War 1 and World War 2 themed skits and songs.
Picture by Mark Peters

THE footlights! The Victorian proscenium arch! The big microphones! Musical Theatre Gisborne have set the stage for wartime hits and skits in Bless ‘em All.

The atmosphere is enhanced by the club room's woody setting, reminiscent of halls the home guard would meet in for a cuppa. But the MTG room is more intimate and there is no fear of a V1 buzz-bomb dropping in.

Gisborne teacher and Musical Theatre Gisborne’s Bless ‘em All cast member Fraser Grout has taken on the role as both performer and speaker in the show.

“Hello, w***er!” is his buoyant greeting when phoned for an interview.

Clearly he still in character. Although there is a whisper of the British tradition of the music hall in the show penned by Gisborne woman Dorothy Fletcher, Bless ‘em All is not vaudeville, Grout says.

“From a literary point of view there is plenty of scope for satire and irony."

As narrator, his delivery is balanced between humour, historical facts that add context to the music, and poignancy.

“I read two beautiful poems. One is from the pre-war era and was written by a local man, JC Collins. The poem was published in the Poverty Bay Herald in 1914. It stands up for the British Empire before the blood and guts began. It’s well written but turgid.”

The reading sets the scene for what is to come, Grout says.

“The early material is jolly and about how our marvellous boys are going to give the Jerry a good fight.”

Songs in this early part of the show include Goodbye-ee, and There is a Sausage Gun. As might be expected in a wartime-themed play, there is a wholesome mix of the corny, poignant and slightly off colour.

“There are a few risque songs,” Grout says. “Some of my jokes are a bit risque too.”

Skits help put the songs in context. As the show progresses through World War 1 and World War 2, it includes many moving moments too such as bitter-sweet songs like Vera Lynn’s We’ll Meet Again.

Grout will also read a poem from World War 2 by an anonymous hand called Stony Broke in No Man’s Land.

To keep the production moving along at a cracking pace, performers will sing only parts of the songs but the audience is welcome to sing along.

The cast is enjoying rehearsals and there is a great energy on stage, so Grout is sure audiences will enjoy the production as well.



THE footlights! The Victorian proscenium arch! The big microphones! Musical Theatre Gisborne have set the stage for wartime hits and skits in Bless ‘em All.

The atmosphere is enhanced by the club room's woody setting, reminiscent of halls the home guard would meet in for a cuppa. But the MTG room is more intimate and there is no fear of a V1 buzz-bomb dropping in.

Gisborne teacher and Musical Theatre Gisborne’s Bless ‘em All cast member Fraser Grout has taken on the role as both performer and speaker in the show.

“Hello, w***er!” is his buoyant greeting when phoned for an interview.

Clearly he still in character. Although there is a whisper of the British tradition of the music hall in the show penned by Gisborne woman Dorothy Fletcher, Bless ‘em All is not vaudeville, Grout says.

“From a literary point of view there is plenty of scope for satire and irony."

As narrator, his delivery is balanced between humour, historical facts that add context to the music, and poignancy.

“I read two beautiful poems. One is from the pre-war era and was written by a local man, JC Collins. The poem was published in the Poverty Bay Herald in 1914. It stands up for the British Empire before the blood and guts began. It’s well written but turgid.”

The reading sets the scene for what is to come, Grout says.

“The early material is jolly and about how our marvellous boys are going to give the Jerry a good fight.”

Songs in this early part of the show include Goodbye-ee, and There is a Sausage Gun. As might be expected in a wartime-themed play, there is a wholesome mix of the corny, poignant and slightly off colour.

“There are a few risque songs,” Grout says. “Some of my jokes are a bit risque too.”

Skits help put the songs in context. As the show progresses through World War 1 and World War 2, it includes many moving moments too such as bitter-sweet songs like Vera Lynn’s We’ll Meet Again.

Grout will also read a poem from World War 2 by an anonymous hand called Stony Broke in No Man’s Land.

To keep the production moving along at a cracking pace, performers will sing only parts of the songs but the audience is welcome to sing along.

The cast is enjoying rehearsals and there is a great energy on stage, so Grout is sure audiences will enjoy the production as well.



Bless ‘em All will be performed at Musical Theatre Gisborne, 99 Innes Street, April 19-23. Tickets available from Stephen Jones Photography, $20.

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