Monthly musings on recent music and drama events
by John Croft - Salford Theatre Critic
I went to the Salford Arts Theatre on Liverpool Street,
Salford on the 20th of October to see a production of The Johnson's
Story by the Rainbow Beach Company. The lights went down to show a
young black American news reporter sat at a desk. Jack played by Dwayne
Scantlebury a reporter on the Chicago Defender newspaper who was explaining
the play and the plight of the Johnson family, in Clarkesdale, Mississippi.
I was quickly hooked by the narrative. The next scene was a musical
number using various techniques of soul, jazz and gospel music used
to tremendous effect sang by Nanette and Speedy who blended together
perfectly and underpinned the performance, they reminded me of Vanessa
Williams and Aretha Franklin. The male tenor Andy Mitchell lent his
voice well to Russ Courtenay's musical score. The whole cast gave
a singing, dancing and marching performance and put across a very
clear picture of what it must have been like to live in "Black"
America from the 1940's to the 1970's a time when over four million
black people migrated north in the hope of a better life. A tale of
triumph over adversity and hope over despair. Introducing Terence
Anderson as lead character Elias Johnson, I heartily recommend this
production to everybody, the acting is top notch and the play just
flies past, a thoroughly enjoyable evening and congratulations to
New poem by Russ Courtenay - read by Terence Anderson
An eleven track CD of
the music & poetry created
during the 2009 Rainbow Beach libraries tour is now available
to hear in all
seventy seven Lancashire Library reference sections. The team
would like to say a huge thank you
and congratulaions for your wonderful contributions
Russ and Del are currently working
on the Rainbow Beach album
Three new Rainbow Beach videos on YouTube
was interviewed by 'Gilly' between 2pm and 3pm and sang live on
BBC Radio Lancashire on Martin Luther King's
Friday the 15th of January 2010. She was joined by Abdul Kheratkar
a Lancashire Library and Information Service manager,
Hina Gohil one of the Learning Revolution project funders and
County Councillor Mike Otter. She also recieved email messages
and comments from members of the general public that took part
in the workshops to pass onto Gilly
The Johnson's story
Minyahil K Giorgis
Black History Month
First Act - Rainbow Beach Tour
Music, Drama,and Poetry performance/workshops
"A huge thank you to Lancashire Library Services, namely
Gill, Abdul,Linda,Carole and Amaan and our sponsor the Museums,
Libraries and Archives Council.We are thrilled with the feedback
from the tour and thank everyone involved including all
the library managers and assistants".
Russ & Del - Founder & Artistic Director
Gill Irvine - Lancashire Library Services Manager
"Thought provoking and inspirational.Fantastic performance
and workshop all round".
Terence Anderson playing Elias and Ezra
"Reading about history is one thing; watching history
through documentaries is another; however Rainbow Beach brings
life to what you read and see. The characters are full of life
and show the plight of a people in vivid colour. Being a part
of Rainbow Beach keeps fresh in our minds the journey
many have given their lives for".
Karlina Grace playing Safra and Desmy
" Keeping the past alive is what we know as history.
Rainbow Beach is history"
Minyahil.K.Giorgis playing Denzil and Jack
"Rainbow Beach has such a great message which is wrapped
in this wonderful story of the Johnson's family and I think it
is important for people to get a chance to watch it and then discuss
their views and their understanding of the message".
Lennie Varvarides playing
"Rainbow Beach is a poetic story that deserves a full
production so that multiple communities can experience a part
of history that should never be forgotten"
Amie Buhari - narrator
" We see the legacy of Rainbow Beach evident today -
in the first black president, in the success of the black man.
However the struggle still goes on for all people as we search
Rainbow Beach reminds us of this".
Rainbow Beach poet Chanje Kunda
"as a passionate poet Rainbow
Beach is right up my Urban Street.... I am so excited about
Tour photography by Minyahil
"excellent performance & inspiring" Margaret
"a true blessing and thought provoking" Sue
CLITHEROE LIBRARY 30-10-09
"sounded really professional, really good job"
"fantastic" Khadim Momin..."poetry
was very powerful & inspirational" Poppy Khanom
"a wonderful all round performance" Naveed
Aziz - Oldham Library
"we need more of this" councilor Ken Brown "please come back again" Lucy Belanger
"absolutely fabulous" Larin Welsh
"enjoyable and enlightening, come back soon"
BUCKLEY HALL 27-10-09
"very moving, excellent way to educate"...
"excellent learning tool for students"
"stories brought to life, excellent acting and singing"
"we enjoyed the poetry and the performance"
David and Susan Pearce
FOOTBALL MUSEUM 24-10-09
Peter Evans National Football Museum Preston
" looks really good – great to be part of it"
"it was a fantastic piece of work"!!! Fariha
"Inspirational.Entertaining way of bringing past and
present matters to light" K.Khanum
"physical drama, music excellent" Joan Williamson
"excellent & thought provoking" county councilor
Tetlow Bolton Community College21-10-09
"The college is committed to equality and diversity and positively
encourages any activities which raise awareness of different cultural
backgrounds. The performance by rainbow beach marked black history
month and raised both learner and customer awareness as well as
providing great entertainment".
audience comments "very enjoyable", "lovely
evening", "must invite you back"
GARTH PRISON 12th &16-10-09
" Yeah the session is great it unites all people black,
white, old, young. It gives us something to call our own and the
Rainbow group are very helpful.... I take this to thank everyone".
" The whole thing was full of passion. It would be good
to do it again and again
to fill the void within the young"
"This was a very good experience and I would like this
type of work
to be done more often"
is interviewed on BBC Radio Lancashire by 'Gilly' 14-10-09
is interviewed on Bolton FM by Mat McManus 13-10-09
The Peoples King & Rainbow Beach
A huge thank you to all these Lancashire
and West Lancashire District and County councillors for their
photography Andrew Macpherson
Songwriter Russ Courtenay from the Rainbow Beach
team has a track on Tina Turner's latest album release 'TINA The
Platinum Collection' to coincide with her 2009 European tour.
Dates include :
London O2 Arena
Manchester MEN Arena
Rainbow Beach performance at the Hexagon...SOLD
The Johnson's Story
celebration of Martin Luther Kingsbirthday
Visitor Book Comments "good value"
"great acting and brilliant music"
"amazing would love a CD" "excellent and very memorable
"really enjoyed everything"
"nice singing good accents"
TO THE WHOLE SHOW ON PRESTON FM AT 8PM ON TUESDAY 27TH JANUARY
Nanette & Russ
Tuesday 13th of January Morecambe Library
performance of Rainbow Beach
Act 1 of the Johnson's story
"we felt honoured to meet some of the groups that regularly
visit the library and were very touched and moved by their overwhelming
reaction to our work, so thank you for your support and for taking
the time to come out and see us perform" - Del
"I thought the event was really excellent. Having spoken
to those from that Tuesday and others who attended on the Thursday
night, I know the 'show' had a real impact"
The Johnson's Story Radio Play
to be broadcast on Preston FM
Tuesday the 27th of January 2009
at 8-10 pm (also streaming online)
activities at the Lancaster & Morecambe college from Tuesday
the 6th to Thurdsady the 15th of January
Marketing Strategies to include posters, flyers,programme content,
Vocal Anatomy and Warm up
Music and Theatre Business Open Forum
Staging for Crowd Scenes Banner Making and Characterisation
"We found it to be a very
exciting and invaluable experience, from which we learned a great
deal, and will remember for a very long time." Mike
"Thanks again for the
production. A few members of staff went on the night and said it
was excellent, which it was! Also the teaching staff and students
for performing arts have asked me to pass on their sincere thanks
to you and all the people involved. I really wish we could get more
things like this at the college". Paul Ineson
Beach would like to thank the following councellors Tom Burns,
Frank De Molfetta, Yakub Patel, Kevin Ellard and Albert Thornton
for their support in January 2009 for the serialisation of Rainbow
Beach on Preston FM and the full production of the show at the
Lancaster and Morecambe College in support of students and vulnerable
groups at Morecambe library.
Hotel showcase/taster day comments
“Thank you it was brill!”
“Very interesting Well Done”
“Very good indeed it was most enjoyable”
“Brilliant project. Brilliantly performed”
“Can’t wait to see the full production. Excellent!”
“Thoroughly enjoyable Exciting Good Luck”
“Wonderful actors and singers. Enjoyed greatly”
“Great afternoon. Enjoyable”
“Fantastic showcase. Good luck with everything”
KING'S BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION - JANUARY 2009
Serialisation of Rainbow Beach musical play on Preston FM Community
15th January full performance at the Hexagon Theatre in Morecambe
(for advance tickets please send contact details via feedback
form) to include the One Voice Community choir.
Lancaster and Morecambe College workshops and Master Classes for
Performing Arts students
January the 12th – 17th Morecambe Library exhibition. First
Act performance on Tuesday the 13th featuring the Rainbow Beach
team of professionals in the accoustic room at lunchtimes
Rainbow Beach showcase at the Midland a resounding success.
Existing and Potential partner comments
“Brilliant showcase can’t wait to be part of it”
– Rachel Bond One Voice choir founder.
“Great singer, great songs would love to work together -
Ruth Davies Global Link
“Thank you” Christine Burn Lunchbox Theatre Company
“Amazing in true Russ and Nanette style” Tracy Kohl
West End Impact
I'm absolutely delighted! I've been walking on air since I found
out, thank you so much for choosing me.
"From the outset I was interested in this project solely
because it was different. For a new project to have such a professional
web presence showcasing the heart warming/breaking songs is something
new. As an actor I always tend to seek out projects that inspire,
inform and educate me and hopefully, then through performance
that inspiration and verve will be passed on to the audience.
Theatre through the ages has, primarily been produced to entertain,
but great theatre, I think, goes beyond that and seeks to challenge
notions that are held to be true, hold a candle up to the world
in which we inhabit and allow something new to be seen; I sincerely
think that this project is one that will fulfil that criteria.
Nanette, Russ and Hugo are lovely people to interact with, with
enough creative drive to allow Rainbow Beach to sail to whichever
shore it chooses to take"
Thank you for taking me on board to work on this ace character
and brilliant project about the highs and lows of people. I'm
looking forward to working with you all.
“It blew me away. I can’t wait to be part of it!”
One Voice Choir comments
“What an amazing project to be involved in. Rainbow Beach
not only has
beautiful, powerful songs but the context of the play is extremely
for one am honoured and proud to be involved in this project.
Thanks so much
for the opportunity!!” - Debbie Jones
“….The Rainbow Beach experience
gives us a marvelous opportunity to give back
to the community and to make a difference”. - Kath Litherland
“Projects like these are vital
in ensuring that the American civil
rights story is embedded in history. These events occurred in
now the last century, and its important to ensure we retell
to our children so that they can recognise and hold guard against
intolerance and prejudice. One Voice Community choir sing a
Gospel and R&B based music. Whilst we have our own style,
our songs are
often deeply rooted in the struggles of those times, and in
earlier spirituals. For me, there’s a sense of knowing
that even though the songs were
conceived in troubled hearts and minds, they were born into
where we always strive to hope, to dream and to pray. Rainbow
does that, and it fits in beautifully with our choir because
message too, every time we sing." Julian Andrews
“…I am lucky enough to have
been involved in some amazing events with One Voice and now
cannot wait to take part in Rainbow Beach and perform in a musical,
I just hope I can hold back the emotion to sing my heart out!”
Preston FM Chat City interview about Rainbow Beach as part of
Black History Month
Lancaster fund raising concert to be announced soon. Please
fill in the feed back form if you would like to attend and contribute
April... return to BBC Radio Lancashire for John Gillmore's
show to sing live and be interviewed
Education Action Week
Intimate Evening performance at BBC Radio Lancashire theatre
BLACK HISTORY MONTH ACTIVITIES 2008
15th Filmed performance of Rainbow Beach songs at County Hall
Preston for Documentary
Press coverage Lancaster Visitor 15th of October
Live performance of two Rainbow Beach songs featuring Nanette
Welmans and Steven Wren on vocals on BBC Radio Lancaster, plus
an interview with John Gillmore... 14th October
2nd round of auditions 11th October one more cast member found
Successful 1st round of auditions...
4 cast members found for January 15th launch of Rainbow Beach
to celebrate Martin Luther King's birthday
Documentary film now started following the progress of the Scriptwriter,
Songwriter, Director, Actors, Musicians and Singers
Press coverage in the Citizen on Thursday 8th October
Showcase taster at the Midland Hotel Morecambe - Monday October
Exhibition in Lancaster Central Library from October 20th -
Rainbow Beach Concert at a Lancaster HMS Prison October 21st
Concert for the homeless in Lancaster at the Arc on the 24th