Musical at Kino-Teatr, St Leonards to focus on issue of climate change

Kelcie Black playing Emily. Picture by Peter Mould SUS-190111-114649001
Kelcie Black playing Emily. Picture by Peter Mould SUS-190111-114649001

A new musical on climate change will open this month in St Leonards, featuring a cast of local talent.

A Billion Ways - The Musical About Climate Change is on at Kino Teatr, 43-49 Norman Road, St Leonards.

Performances start at 7.30pm and will be held on November 14, 15 and 16.

Script writer Sally Holloway said she wanted to write a ‘feel-good’ musical about climate change that inspires rather than scares.

She said: “We want people to go out of the theatre happy and galvanised.”

Sally said she got the idea for the plot when she was listening to Greta Thunberg on the radio and imagined what it would be like if Greta lived in Hastings, her father ran a big polluting company and her mum was a shopaholic.

The roles of mother and daughter are being played by real-life mother and daughter team - Eastbourne-based Joanna Roffey and her daughter, singer Chloe Thompson.

Joanna said: “We have been singing together since Chloe was in a baby bath.”

This is not the first time they have been on stage together, as they both appeared in Oliver at the Assembly Hall theatre, Tunbridge Wells in 2009, but this is the first time they will have played mother/daughter in a production.

Chloe, 21, said: “We hope our real-life relationship will bring a warmth and a depth to our performances.”

She is a graduate of both the Italia Conti Academy and Stagecoach where she had main roles in a number of productions including Grease, Aladdin and Hairspray.

They said they are thrilled to be working with award-winning director Dominique Gerrard.

Dominique moved to Hastings just over two years ago and has worked with a host of new writing talent for theatre, including Quintessence which won Brighton Fringe Award for Outstanding Theatre.

She said: “Climate change is the issue of our age and the music in this show is wonderful.”

The show has 16 original songs including a range of ballads, rock, blues, calypso, soul and of course a couple of big anthems that the writers hope will have the audience humming as they leave the theatre.

They were all written by Hastings-based musicians Rob Hill and Peter O’Donnell.

Rob used to be a marketing man who commuted to London on the 6.30am train until he was diagnosed with primary progressive multiple sclerosis in 2014.

Rob was inspired to craft songs about climate change after reading about the local youth strike protests.

He said he was moved by the passion of young people giving up their time to protest because they are so scared about their future.

One of the songs is even called Youth Strike and takes their slogans as its lyrics.

“So in a way, the kids are my co-writers,” he said. His co-writer is St Leonards-based musician, Peter O’Donnell.

Rob said: “Peter takes raw cuts of my songs and sends them back sounding like polished radio hits. It’s amazing. It’s not surprising Peter has high standards - when he’s not writing and producing music he is the resident singer at The Ritz in London.”

Peter is currently working with the entire cast of seven, rehearsing their duets, trios and solos.

“It’s a joy to do as they all sing like angels, it’s going to be a great musical,” he said.

Oscar Smith, from Battle Light Opera Group, plays a young scientist who seems to be on both sides at once.

Alongside him is Kelcie Black, from Polegate, playing young radical Emily who wants to get arrested for the sake of the planet and also to annoy her sarcastic mother.

Kelcie, at the age of 24 is a veteran of many musicals, including 9 To 5 and Rags, both performed at the London College of Music where she gained a first class degree in Musical Theatre.

The show includes accomplished actors Lisa Harmer Pope and Robin Hayter, who between them have a long list of acting credits on stage, screen and TV including EastEnders, Auf Wiedersehen Pet, The Gentle Touch, Grange Hill and Metrosexuality to name just a few.

Another cast member is Rachel McCarron. Her credits include Grizabella in Cats, and Whistle down the Wind in the Palace Theatre on London’s Shaftesbury Avenue.

Other musical credits include Camelot, Doz Faust and The Kids from Shame.

Rachel trained at Mountview Theatre School in London and has worked extensively with Orchard Theatre, The Common Players and Foret Forqe and at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry.

Since Rachel moved to St Leonards 13 years ago, she has performed in various local theatres as an actress and singer.

The title song of the show, A Billion Ways, is a poignant song about how humans exploit the planet.

Writer Rob said: “We all know the consequences of climate breakdown because it is happening right now in front of our eyes but A Billion Ways is also about the fact that there are a billion ways for us to put it back together again and it needs us all.

“Many people feel really scared and helpless in the face of such overwhelming news, but if we all come together, change can happen.

“Of course I’m hoping that there is definitive action by our governments too, but we all need to try and make sense of this in our lives and music brings us all together at this really critical time.”

Book tickets directly from the theatre or from www.ticketsource.co.uk/kinoteatr/e-pzavgk, or ring 01424 457830.