Dee­side de­light for West End di­rec­tor

“Mar­vel­lous mu­si­cal”

Evening Express (City Final) - The Guide - - ARTS AND STAGE - By Sonja Ras­mussen

DEE­SIDE has been har­bour­ing a long-kept the­atri­cal se­cret ... a West End di­rec­tor has been liv­ing at Din­net.

Now Tommy Bax­ter is all set to break on to the stage in Aboyne with his first pro­duc­tion for Dee­side Mu­si­cal So­ci­ety, the mu­si­cal Honk! Tommy’s pas­sion for theatre be­gan when he worked as head guide at Glamis Cas­tle and af­ter three years there he left for Lon­don with his part­ner Neil. Tommy said he “wormed his way into Andrew Lloyd Web­ber’s Re­ally Use­ful Group”, be­com­ing gen­eral man­ager of the Adel­phi Theatre. He spent the next 20 years work­ing among some of the most fa­mous West End pro­duc­ers, direc­tors, cast­ing direc­tors and stars such as Elaine Paige, Chita Rivera, Jerry Lewis and Alex Han­son Tommy said: “I loved be­ing at the cast­ing meet­ings, learn­ing to look for dif­fer­ent qual­i­ties in an ac­tor or ac­tress. “One of my most en­joy­able times was work­ing with the Amer­i­can pro­duc­ers of the mu­si­cal Chicago, which is now in its 12th year in Lon­don. They were so open and ac­com­mo­dat­ing, and I learned a lot from them.” Tommy also had his own pro­duc­tion com­pany called Sing Out Louise Pro­duc­tions Ltd, named from one of Tommy’s favourite mu­si­cals Gypsy, and pro­duced the show Lon­don Rocks which ended up at the Adel­phi. He also staged the play Mis­ery, which went on a na­tional tour star­ring Les­lie Gran­tham (Dirty Den in EastEnders), and ran work­shops with all-star West End casts. Tommy and Neil fi­nally made the de­ci­sion to leave Lon­don af­ter 20 years, and move nearer their par­ents. But the theatre found him again – in the form of the Din­net pan­tomime. Tommy said: “Hav­ing said those fa­mous words ‘Never again’, we were ap­proached by the Din­net Hall com­mit­tee to pro­duce and di­rect a pan­tomime to raise funds for the hall. Now, af­ter two suc­cess­ful pan­tos, we are cur­rently writ­ing the next one.” Tommy was then ap­proached by the Dee­side Mu­si­cal So­ci­ety to take over as di­rec­tor for the mu­si­cal Honk! – a mod­ern retelling of Hans Chris­tian An­der­sen’s The Ugly Duck­ling and de­scribed as a “quintessen­tially Bri­tish mu­si­cal”. Tommy said: “Honk! is a mar­vel­lous show with a won­der­ful score.” Honk! runs at Aboyne Theatre from May 25 to May 28.

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