Fringe Box



Godalming Theatre Group – Amateur and Great

Published on: 4 Mar, 2013
Updated on: 4 Mar, 2013
Jason McCann as The Man with Junior Ensemble – children of the town

Godalming Theatre Group, Amateur, great and in rehearsal for Whistle Down the Wind – Jason McCann as The Man with Junior Ensemble – children of the town

by Izzie Radley

Have you noticed how in one industry the word amateur can sometimes conjure the images of someone who nobly does something without the lure of filthy lucre, even when at the top of their game, like many Olympic athletes, yet in others – like the arts and theatre, it can suggest something perhaps quaint but second rate?

When asked to think of amateur or local theatre, images might spring to mind of over-the-top acting, dodgy sets and village halls in rural towns, not too dissimilar to that of Dibley. However, one local theatre company who pride themselves on the high standards of their productions both practically and technically are Godalming Theatre Group (GTG), who will be celebrating their 50th anniversary next year.

Founded in 1964, GTG is among one of the longest running amateur theatre companies in Surrey, winning various NODA (National Operatic and Dramatic Association) awards for their plays and musicals. Just recently GTG have gained major sponsorship from Haines Watts for their 2012-13 season.

Article author Izzie Radley as Candy and Darren Coppe as Amos

Article author Izzie Radley as Candy and Darren Coppe as Amos

The group stages three major productions a year at the Ben Travers Theatre, Charterhouse and its season usually consists of a musical at Easter, a play in October and a pantomime/show over Christmas/New Year; offering plenty of opportunity for its members to get involved either onstage or technically. GTG also has a thriving youth section, Godalming Young Theatre Group (GYTG), run by senior members of the group. It has seen many former members gain places at well recognised drama schools and develop into successful professionals appearing in various West End shows.

This season two of the three productions have featured/will be featuring a large junior ensemble, the majority of which are taken from the youth group – however, open auditions are also held to encourage community theatre. GTG’s Easter 2013 production of Whistle Down the Wind by Andrew Lloyd Webber includes and relies heavily upon a strong junior cast, who will have little time off stage, performing well known songs such as No Matter What (famously covered by BoyZone) and Children Rule The World.

Whistle Down the Wind – based on the novel by Mary Hayley Bell – follows Swallow, a 15 year old girl growing up in 50’s Louisiana. She and the town’s other children vow to protect a mysterious man they discover hiding in a barn from the world that waits outside. However, the townspeople are determined to catch the escaped fugitive hiding in their midst.

Webber’s blend of hauntingly beautiful love songs and explosive rock music has encouraged both new and old faces to tread the boards with GTG. Andrew Blagden playing Boone (Swallow’s father), hasn’t performed for many years returning to GTG especially for this show.

Playing The Man and Swallow are Jason McCann and Amelia Greco. Both are completely new to the company; however they are no strangers to performance. Amelia has performed in many shows including Sleeping Beauty, Bat Boy and My Fair Lady. She now teaches and tutors Drama.

Jason, now a pilot, spent 5 years in London’s West End where he went straight from Guildford School of Acting into the Original Cast Production of Whistle Down the Wind at the Aldwych Theatre, understudying then taking over the role of The Man for 18 months. Following this, he continued onto pastures new and joined the cast of Les Miserables playing the role of Enjolras for a further two years.

With just over a month to go, the 50 strong cast are currently working very hard with this challenging music, meeting and rehearsing three times a week; which is clearly paying off. Ticket sales are high already in comparison to previous shows and in this current climate this is often one of the foremost hurdles for local amateur theatre companies to overcome. It is promising to be a very exciting show and might even be a sell out ahead of opening on April 9th.

GTG have even collaborated with Guildford Harley-Davidson who are providing a motorcycle for the week of the run, without which the rebellious characters of Amos and Candy, played respectively by Darren Coppe and Izzie Radley, would struggle.

If you’re sceptical about local theatre why not let Godalming Theatre Group try and change your mind with Whistle Down the Wind playing at the Ben Travers Theatre, Charterhouse April 9th-13th; tickets available online from or 01483 425556. If you think you’d like to tread the boards for the first time or you may even be a seasoned performer, you can find out more on

Andrew Blagden as Boone with family. Amelia Greco as Swallow is to the left in the purple dress

Andrew Blagden as Boone with family. Amelia Greco as Swallow is to the left

Share This Post

Leave a Comment

Please see our comments policy. All comments are moderated and may take time to appear.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *