with Bethany Flintham, Adam Nicholls, Freya Cryer, Russel Hicken and Stephanie Orchard (Rosewarne)
Directed by Lisa Topsey
Musical Director Millie Millington
Five well-known faces of Cornwall’s musical theatre scene are packing their talents into a glittering box of festive goodies, for an afternoon of great songs from musicals old and new, including favourites from Les Miserables, Dream Girls, Jekyll and Hyde, Oklahoma and Shrek. And for a shimmer of seasonal sparkle, they’ll also be singing some of the best-loved Christmas songs. So join us for two magical afternoon concerts and Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas at the Minack this December.
Bethany Francesca Flintham
Bethany Francesca Flintham trained in musical theatre at Artsed London graduating in 2012. Whilst in London she appeared in many productions including High Society and In Cahoots at The Bridwell Theatre and a variety of cabarets with Centre Stage London. Bethany moved to Cornwall in 2005 and has been involved with local theatre company productions such as Penzance musical theatre company, HelstonTheatre Company, Kidz R Us, Any Excuse and Harts Productions. She has thoroughly enjoyed being Assistant Director for the past 3 Kidz R Us pantomines and also takes great joy in giving many local children and adults singing lessons. Bethany was in rehearsals for Disenchanted! at the Kidz R Us theatre and spent the summer performing in concerts on the island in St Ives to raise money for the theatre. She is beyond excited to be performing alongside her fellow cast at the fantastic Minack Theatre a place she has dreamed of performing at since the age of 9.
Adam has been a keen performer for many years. He has performed across the County/Country in venues such as the Regal Theatre, Redruth, Hall For Cornwall, Truro, St Johns Hall, Penzance, Truro Cathedral, Cheltenham Playhouse, Winter Gardens Blackpool, Lancaster Cathedral, along with this iconic theatre the Minack where he has performed many times with local theatre groups. The most recent being Redruth Amateur Operatic Society Trust (RAOST) who performed Jesus Christ Superstar in 2018 where he played Pontius Pilate. RAOST won the season award at the Minack in 2018, a wonderful experience and honour! Adam has sung with choirs such as the Cornwall Symphony Chorus, RAOST Singers & the Local, National & International award winners Celtic Male Ensemble.
Adam has collected many awards himself through festival participation and he looks forward to being able to support festivals again in the very near future. It’s a great privilege to be here at the Minack again but the greatest privilege is to be allowed to sing again as we have missed it so very much! I Wish You All A Merry Christmas & Here’s to 2021 (Things can only get better!!)
Russel has been performing since the age of 4 when he joined Mary Jewels Dance School in Barnstaple, North Devon. After moving to Penzance at 13 he joined several local theatre companies (Most notably PAOS and Kidz R Us). Then in 1996, At the age of 19 he moved to London to attended Mountview Theatre School where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Performance (Musical Theatre). He then spent the next 7 years performing in the hit family musical Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat both in the West End and on the national tour. In 2009 Russel became the resident pantomime Dame for the Sheringham Little Theatre in North Norfolk, entertaining hundreds of children every Christmas until 2014. During his down time Russel worked in the costume departments of many of the West End's biggest shows including Sister Act, The Lord of the Rings and The Bodyguard. Then in 2015 Russel returned home to the West country where he has been a regular fixture on the local theatre scene ever since, having performed in shows for Penzance musical theatre company, Helston Theatre Company, Any Excuse and Kidz R Us. In 2018 he won the CDA best actor award for his portrayal of Preston in Avenue Q for HTC. Russel has been putting his extensive panto experience to good use as the director for the Kidz R Us Christmas pantomimes over the last 3 years, including Jack and the Beanstalk, The Snow Queen and Sleeping Beauty. It has been almost 25 years since Russel last performed at the Minack and he's very excited to be back at this incredible venue.
Stephanie Orchard (Rosewarne)
Stephanie is from Helston, now living in the “big city” of Truro. She studied Performing Arts at the University of Winchester where she enjoyed devising contemporary and avant garde performance work, as well as studying the art of dramaturgy. Stephanie has taken singing lessons since she was was 10 years old, as well as learning a great deal from her mum. She regularly performs in concerts around mid and west Cornwall, a highlight being singing as Helston Town Band’s guest soloist at 2019’s St Ives September Festival. Stephanie’s notable roles to date include Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady, Laurey in Oklahoma!, Beth in Little Women, Maureen in Rent, Hope in Anything Goes, the Narrator in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, Betty in Sunset Boulevard, Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Hodel in Fiddler on the Roof.
At age 12 Freya joined Kids R Us in St Ives. Phil Barnett saw her potential, casting her as Lola in Copacabana and Charity Barnum in Barnum. Freya gained invaluable theatre experience at Kidz R Us and will be forever grateful to Phil for an amazing start in musical theatre. Age 16, Freya joined Playrite Theatre Company under the late Trevor Hitchings, playing parts such as Fantine in Les Miserables, Anita in West Side Story and Crazy Amy in Company. Trevor honed Freya’s skills and helped her to flourish into the performer she is today, challenging her in roles she thought were beyond her abilities, but he knew better. Those roles are some of the best of Freya’s performance achievements. Freya was accepted into Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts age 21 but for both medical and emotional reasons, Freya decided not to pursue her career in London. She now works hard helping to run her family business, Phil’s Bakery.
Lisa Topsey (Director)
Lisa has over 30 years’ experience in theatre and has played 36 leading roles to date including Polly (Crazy for You), Joanne (Rent), Little Red (Into the Woods), Maria (West Side Story) and Jo (Little Women). Her passion for performing doesn’t end there as she has also performed in many plays including Hermia (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), Nora (A Doll’s House) and Yvette (‘Allo ‘Allo). Recently however, Lisa has returned to a love of directing and using her dance training to choreograph. She has directed Little Shop of Horrors, My Fair Lady, Little Women and as Lockdown stuck she was in the middle of directing Into the Woods. She hopes she can sink her teeth back into that show later next year. When she has not been treading the boards, Lisa has been busy developing a Performing Arts Scholarship Programme which delivers a Theatre School style Education for Cornish children. Lisa feels strongly that young talent shouldn’t have to leave the county or their families in order to pursue their dreams and gain quality performance training. The programme has just been selected as a finalist for the ISA award for Innovation in Performing Arts. She has also created a pop-up theatre company called ‘Any Excuse’.
Review by Jenni Balow
Warmly wrapped in hats, gloves, scarves, caps and berets on Saturday, and needing quality waterproofs on Sunday, this hardy bunch of Cornwall-based friends sang like festive robins, to the rhythmic boom of a huge Atlantic swell.
This was the Minack in mid-December, and they took a big chance on the weather to bring a live-music starved and very appreciative audience a collection of songs from musicals old and new, with a finale of seasonal tunes.
Musical director Millie Millington played the keyboard accompaniment with impeccable determination and flair beneath a not entirely weatherproof awning, dismissing the finger-stiffening elements - the show absolutely had to go on.
The singers had "jumped at the chance" of appearing on the Minack stage and for blue-scarfed Bethany Flintham, it was a wonderful debut, after spending the summer singing on the island at St Ives to raise funds for Cornish theatre groups that have taken a big hit during this season of the pandemic.
Adam Nicholls, was a confident returner, with that powerful voice that had a lot to do with the Redruth Amateur Operatic Society Trust winning the Minack Trophy two years ago, when he appeared as Pilate in a very memorable production of Jesus Christ Superstar.
For Russell Hicken, it was a return after 25 years. He has spent recent years directing panto with Kids R Us, so this not-so-normal season was a gain for this group, alongside the expressive performer Freya Cryer, also from Kidz R Us, and Stephanie Orchard, who delighted audiences at last year's St Ives Festival, as soloist with the Helston Town Band.
Director Lisa Topsey and the team selected the best from Oklahoma! to Whistle Down The Wind, to Shrek, Little Shop of Horrors Jekyll and Hyde and The Secret Garden, ranging from 'jaunty' to 'the depths of Gothic theatre'.
They especially acknowledged the creators of Miss Saigon and Les Miserables, Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg, with a moving medley, sung as duets and in perfect harmony - speaking of which, the show was rounded-off with a warm rendition of Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.