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Betty Blue Eyes

Valley Park Productions put on a pig of a show in July 2015. Park Life caught up with two of its stars, and asked them how they prepared for their roles...


Josephine Biggs: 'Mother Dear'


'The story revolves around Joyce and her husband Gilbert, who've recently moved to Shepardsford, but haven't found the popularity or fortune Joyce is looking for. Gilbert is 'only' a chiropodist without his own shop, so he can't 'roll in and declare victory' as Joyce is hoping.'

'After being refused the sale of an empty shop on the parade by the villainous men on the council, the chances of Joyce and Gilbert ever being made into respected members of the village is beginning to look unlikely.'

'In revenge, Joyce and Gilbert steal a pig which is intended to be eaten at a private function in celebration of the wedding of Princess Elizabeth to Prince Phillip.'

'Stealing the pig is difficult, but it's made even harder by the merciless Meat Inspector Wormold, who's on the prowl for anyone who has anything to do with the sale or consumption of illegal meat. '

'To make this near impossible feat worse, Mother Dear has no idea what to say and what not to say, which makes keeping the pig a secret even more difficult.'

'I performed the part of Mother Dear, the old and cantankerous mother of Joyce. I particularly loved to play this part as she was such a complicated person to play.'

'On the first night my slipper accidentally came off. I just picked it up, grunted, looked at the audience, back at the shoe, then shoved it back on again. The audience found it funny, whereas I was just thankful no one realised I'd tripped!' 

'At the start, I had trouble trying to figure out the correct posture for a woman of 74, but Mr Gleadall gave a demonstration which helped enormously.'

'With the assistance of Maisie Barden, who applied my wrinkles each night, and the make-up girls who sprayed my hair grey, I really did look the part! '

'I came home looking like a back-up dancer from the ‘Thriller’ music video, but it was so effective when I was onstage.'

'Undoubtedly my favourite scene was 'Pig, no pig'. All the players in this scene were completely reliant on each other to carry the song. This made it so much more effective for the audience. '

'When I first heard it, I was worried that I'd never be able to remember it. As it happened, the problem was not remembering it, but trying to get it out of our heads. By the time show week arrived we were at the point of singing it in our sleep!'

'I was quite disappointed when we couldn't use the real Betty, but I feel it would have made things a lot more difficult, trying to steer her around the stage and it would have been too much for her.'

'Overall, I'd say Betty has been my favourite show so far. After 5 months of rehearsing together, the whole cast became one big family. Standing on the stage with so many brilliant young actors and actresses, this whole experience has been an achievement for us all.'


Ben Anderton: 'Gilbert Chilvers'


'I played Gilbert Chilvers, a kind hearted man with an ambition to have his own surgery on the parade. Playing Gilbert required me to soften up like his character as he was always being pushed around by his wife and the town council.'

'When our director, Mr Gleadall, explained Gilbert's background and experience to me, I began to feel for him as a character. In my previous show, 'Miss Saigon', I played a Vietnamese General. He was a violent, mean person, so transitioning to a character like Gilbert was really interesting.'

'In preparation for the show, I often went to the farm to spend time with Betty and Hetty, our farm pigs, so they could get used to me, and I to them. This is so when it came to the show nights they wouldn't panic on stage.

'During the song, 'The Kind of Man I am', I was required to hold a knife to Betty. She had to stay very still as this was the part of the show which required me to 'kill' her. I was afraid she would panic as I would be holding a sharp object at her! Sadly, we weren’t able to use Betty for the real show, but it would’ve been a great experience performing with a live animal!'

'When Haydn Oakley came to Valley Park to help prepare us for the show,  (see last issue) he had a session with Cathy Butler (Joyce), Josie Biggs (Mother Dear) and myself.

The song we chose for him to help us with was 'Pig, no pig'. Haydn gave us lots of tips to help us develop this hilarious scene, as he had performed the show in the West End.

What I really loved about the show was the songs. I think everyone who watched or was in this show would agree that you would get at least one song stuck in your head, especially 'Betty Blue Eyes'.

The rehearsal for this song was hilarious and there was no one else I would rather work with on that song than Sam Murray (Mr. Allardyce). It was a great song and really catchy as were most of the songs in the show!