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Ben Stock on Tomfoolery

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Fancy ‘Poisoning a pigeon in the park’, or a bit of ‘Smut’, or dancing ‘The Masochism Tango?’

Tomfoolery, the hilarious musical revue with the words and music of the great American satirist and songwriter Tom Lehrer is coming to the south as part of a maiden tour for Frinton’s Summer Theatre.

Originally devised by Cameron Mackintosh and Robin Ray in the early 1980’s, this latest tour is a new venture from Frinton’s summer theatre, home of the country’s longest-established professional seasonal repertory company, in association with MTP and Connaught Productions. Directed by award-winning rising star Tom Littler, the show has recently been seen at venues in Suffolk and visits Eastern Angles’ home the Sir John Mills Theatre in Ipswich before heading South and West. Tomfoolery now comes to Bridgwater Arts Centre on Wednesday 12 September before playing four sell-out shows in the Salberg Studio at Salisbury Playhouse from the 13 - 15 September.

The cast includes West End and National Theatre actor/singers, (among them Ben Stock, whose Bridgwater debut thirty years ago was a triumph – as a rabbit in the town’s carnival!).

Ben finds time to answer a few questions for Whatsonstage.

Q: Tell me a little more about Tomfoolery, and your involvement in it?
It was one of 7 shows produced by Connaught Productions at the Frinton Summer Theatre in Essex which produces a professional weekly rep season every year. It's so rare to get a chance to do weekly rep now that I was thrilled to audition and get the job! I only did 2 (Tomfoolery and Charley's Aunt), goodness only knows how peoples brains retained and more importantly lost all that info when doing it 52 weeks a year! It's a fabulous experience though and really keeps you on your toes and you learn to really listen to your instincts - there's no time to discuss rhyme and reason - you just have to use the text as a guide on how to play it......under the watchful eye of the director of course!

Q: What interested you about the project?
I'm a HUGE Tom Lehrer fan and his lyrics, though almost entirely written in the 50's and 60's are still incredibly relevant and funny today! And putting on a musical review in a week was certainly challenging!

Q: Tell me more about mtp/Connaught and the tour
We played a week in Frinton and then went "barn-storming" in Suffolk - playing to sold out houses in remote barns throughout the county in July and August......before heading to Ipswich and the West Country (Bridgwater and Salisbury) to play in bricks and mortar! Last year Matthew Townshend of MTP Productions teamed up with Ed Max of Connaught and after 73 years took the first play out of Frinton.....it was such a success, a bigger tour planned for this year and Tomfoolery was the show they wisely chose. It's an incredibly hard time for theatre at the moment....even the big shows are suffering.....so to be playing to full houses on a small-scale tour produced independently is a real treat!

Q: What are you working on next?
Well.......panto beckons! I'm in Bradford this year at the Alhambra playing Ugly Sister in Cinderella. I'm very lucky that I've been asked back by QDOS Pantomimes for the 4th year. They're the country's biggest producer of panto and I LOVE it! This year I'm with Billy Pearce (who's doing his 14th year in Bradford), Lynda Bellingham and Brendan Sheerin from Coach Trip. I can't wait!!!!

Bridgewater Arts Centre, Somerset – 12 September
Salberg Studio at Salisbury Playhouse – 13-15 September.


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