Dear Members (past and present) and Ambassadors
2020 was obviously a difficult year for everyone and the start of 2021 is equally challenging. I do hope that you have stayed safe and well, and that 2021 will improve in time and be much kinder to us all than 2020 was. So, we keep looking to the future and I am writing now to keep you in touch with BAOS, what we are managing to do despite restrictions and the plans we have.
In our last newsletter, just before our AGM, we updated you on the work going on towards Limelight’s production of Urinetown. At that point the production had been postponed from the planned October dates and we were hoping to be able to stage it in February 2021. The directing team of Stephanie Webb, Simon Eastwood and Hattie Brannam, supported in particular by Sharon Meechan, Lin McFee and Lesley Rust, put an enormous amount of effort into running rehearsals online and finding creative ways to keep the youngsters engaged and supported. However, at the end of October the decision was reluctantly made to cancel the production. The team was deeply saddened to make this decision, but it was made in the best interest of the directing and production team and our young cast. At the AGM members thanked all involved for everything they were putting into this and recognised the additional energy and commitment that is needed to make this happen online. The BAOS committee would like to take this opportunity to thank them sincerely again. As far as the future is concerned, the current plan is to wait until Limelight can rehearse safely in person without social distancing before committing to another show. No decision has yet been made on future shows but the team has a few ideas, including a summer concert, and the possibility of a revisit to Seussical for Limelight’s 10th Anniversary.
You will all know that the adult company’s production of My Fair Lady was cancelled at the very last minute just before the start of the first lockdown. We were also unable to put on our usual summer concert and our Christmas carol singing in the community was cancelled. However, we decided to begin work on our next production, the fabulous new version of The Wind In The Willows, as planned. Auditions were held at the end of September, in person but complying with social distancing and the rule of 6 and with the audition panel freezing all day by open windows, and a fabulous cast was created. Rehearsing since then has been tricky, as you can imagine, with the safety of all of paramount concern, but an enormous amount of progress has been made, particularly on work with the principals. Where we have been able to hold face to face rehearsals safely and in line with the rules, we have done so. Sometimes this has meant having some of the directing team online so that we could have 3 or 4 members of the cast in the room, always distancing from each other. We have also held online rehearsals, with all its limitations. Again, I should like to thank the directing team of Adam Bayjou, Simon Eastwood, Caroline Price, Owen White, Emily Fagg and Abi Bastin for all they have put into the show so far and for their enormous commitment to driving the show forward under very difficult circumstances.
I should also like to thank the cast for their commitment to the show. It has not so far been the BAOS experience we like to share with people, and has been particularly frustrating for members of the ensemble (through no fault of the directing team!), trying to learn dances online and being unable to rehearse face to face as a group. We look forward to the day that it is safe to build on the camaraderie that already exists.
As a committee and directing team, we have constantly assessed the chances of being able to stage The Wind In The Willows. You won’t be surprised to hear that we decided a while ago that performing in March 2021 was extremely unlikely to be possible and have been discussing alternatives with Anvil Arts. We have been able to obtain dates in The Haymarket for performances from Wednesday 5th to Saturday 8th May 2021. It is still possible that we will not be able to stage the show even then, but we will do everything we can to bring this amazing show and outstanding cast to Basingstoke audiences. For those of you who are not in the cast, please do put these dates in your diary and we will let you know as soon as you are able to book tickets. I’m sure that, like me, you can’t wait for live theatre to return.
We are now having a quiet January with very few rehearsals. Online rehearsing is very difficult for large groups and there is no joy or benefit in holding rehearsals unless they are going to drive the show forward. When we do pick things up again it will be with energy and enthusiasm. We hope that the current restrictions and the vaccination programme will mean that we can meet and do just that before too long. If any show is going to bring a feel-good smile to the faces of cast and audience, it’s The Wind In The Willows!
Looking further ahead, 2022 marks BAOS’s centenary and a working group has been working on several plans to mark this milestone. These include an anniversary ball, an autumn gala concert and an exhibition. Excitingly, our main show, planned for March 2022, is Kinky Boots. Further details will follow!
Please do stay safe, well and optimistic.
With very best wishes,