The Ballad of Betsy May Riley
I played the eponymous role in the workshop production of a new country & western musical THE BALLAD OF BETSY MAY RILEY written by Neil Harrison and Susan Penhaligon. The performances at The Lost Theatre, London on 23rd May 2014 were a huge success. It was an intense week of learning 20 songs (both original compositions and a few C&W classics), paying guitar and roughly staging a two hour producion.
The original script was charming, funny and touching - lead charcter Beth is a northern housewife and mother, disallusioned with life with a husband who is clearly taking her for granted. A chance night out leads to Beth to sing with a visiting band and rediscovering the performing she so loved 20 years ago. The band ask her to join them for some gigs so she with the Clayton Daniels (wonderfully played by Graham McDuff) and his band. Nerves stifle her performing so she creates an alter ego. Betsy May Riley, a Nashville singer with Dolly Parton costumes and a confidence she can hide behind. The story progrsses with love, music and passion and, as we found out when putting it in front of an audience, many many laughs too.
A fabulous cast was assembled and the show, directed by Kenn Oldfield and procued by The So & So Arts Club's Sarah Berger, looks set for a future.... one to keep an eye out for. It's sharpened my guitar skills and given me a new found love of Country music. An exciting and fun script to be involved with.