The Searchers: Farewell and History

Tickets for The Searchers at Camberley Theatre on March 29th 2019 can be bought by clicking here.

Well, it has finally happened.

After a non stop professional touring career of a mind boggling 56 years (they count their anniversaries from June 1962 when they threw in their day jobs to head over to Hamburg and the legendary Star Club) you might wonder how and why The Searchers have never slowed down or stopped.  It is a back breaking schedule that has constantly amazed their contemporaries in the heady world of pop music. But wonder no more because at last the band has decided to end the touring and enjoy a well deserved rest.

After this current run of two hour solo concerts the latter months of 2018 see them undertake yet another Sixties Gold package tour headlining over a bunch of their fellow friends and musicians which no doubt will pack the venues as they always do. And in January 2019 they begin their farewell series of solo presentations around the U.K culminating in a final show on March 31st. It is surely a sad time for their loyal and devoted followers who thought they would go on forever.

Black shirts

It was certainly not a case of the need to. They still undertake somewhere between 150 and 200 shows a year and their legendary solo concerts in which they present a potted history of the iconic band in music and anecdotes are invariably selllouts.

They have never fallen out of love with performing and never will but that fun element is only the tip of the iceberg. Still fit and looking decades younger than their years they finally decided they want a rest from the constant driving, the clogged up motorways which for the most part these days resemble car parks, and the hours of hanging about waiting for their moment to shine.

Back in the mid sixties when the incredible beat boom created by the Beatles saw so many bands riding on the crest of a seemingly unstoppable wave of success eventually subsided many simply disbanded and got on with their lives as best they could. Not The Searchers.

They stayed firmly in place, a constant unit riding out the bad times putting the twilight years of the cabaret clubs, looked on as anathema by some, to good use as they diligently honed their stage craft and upgraded the quality of their shows to please the more mature audience who had replaced the screaming teenage girls who had mobbed them in those years of chart topping glory. Such dogged determination was to stand them in good stead for the momentous nostalgia revival which was to lift them once again to national and international prominence.

The Searchers seemed to be both unstoppable and indestructible. They were arguably the hardest working band in showbusiness and their amazing datesheet was legendary in the music industry. No other unit played more dates for such a continuous period without cessation.

Their impressive run of hits in those glory years from 1964 to 1966 was worldwide enabling them to travel the globe constantly.

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Sweets For My Sweet, Sugar & Spice, Needles & Pins, Don`t Throw Your Love Away, Someday We`re Gonna Love Again, When You Walk On The Room, Love Potion Number Nine, Goodbye My Love, He`s Got No Love, Take Me For What I`m Worth, Take It Or Leave It, Bumble Bee, Sweets Nothings. Have You Ever Loved Somebody, When I Get Home, What Have They Done To The Rain.

They have performed for both The Queen and Princess Margaret, headlined over such Motown luminaries as Marvin Gaye, The Supremes, Martha & The Vandellas and The Temptations, entertained British troops in The Falklands, Bosnia and Belfast, toured Australia and New Zealand with The Rolling Stones and strutted their stuff in front of 80,000 people at Wembley Stadium as special guests of Cliff Richard.

In 2008 they found themselves back in the charts when the compilation album The Very Best Of The Searchers climbed to number eleven. It was only prevented from entering the top ten by Old Blue Eyes himself, Frank Sinatra.

As recently as 2014 they appeared in Las Vegas, the entertainment capital of the world, to great acclaim and not for the first time. This was their third engagement in ‘Sin City’ but in fact the U.SA has played host to them constantly over the years. And on one special evening in New York they allowed Searchers afficionado Marky Ramone of the legendary punk pioneers to sit in on drums for Needles & Pins.

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As well as The Ramones they can count Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, The Byrds, Marshall Crenshaw and others as musicians who came under their influence. In fact Roger McGuinn was recently quoted as saying that without The Searchers there would have been no Byrds. The Searchers modestly venture that he was being a tad over generous in such high praise but there are many who would underline the truth of the statement.

Roger McGuinn of The Byrds on The Searchers

Without The Searchers there would have been no Byrds.

Chris Hillman of The Byrds on The Searchers

“We were quite a bit into The Searchers beginning with their two- and three-part harmonies. Roger McGuinn had been playing 12-string guitar since his days as a folk singer on the Chicago scene in the late ’50s, he was using an acoustic guitar with a pickup on early Byrds tracks. He switched to the Rickenbacker electric 12-string after The Searchers (and, by then, George Harrison) were using one. Plus we appropriated their intro to ‘Needles and Pins’ for our ‘I’ll Feel A Whole Lot Better’. 

“The Searchers were a bit smoother than we were, and less adventurous. But I think we identified more with The Searchers than with The Beatles……..”

Tom Petty on choosing  When You Walk In The Room as his 5th favourite British Invasion Record

“I restrained myself from listing a bunch of their records. The 12 string guitar fascinated me and they had great voices”

 Quote from Steve Priest of The Sweet`s autobiography Are You Ready Steve? Regarding Frank Allen`s influence on his bass playing.

“It was while watching the bass player of The Rebel Rousers, Frankie Allen who later joined The Searchers, that my playing style changed. Instead of using his thumb to pluck the strings he used the three fingers of his right hand. I thought that looked really cool and went home and practiced. It was painful at first but I soon mastered it.”

 

In less happy circumstances they were even forced to take a former member to court in order to save their name and protect their future in the entertainment industry.

The Searchers were founded by guitarist John McNally (he started the outfit like so many other kids of the day as a skiffle group in the late fifties) and along with bassist/front man Frank Allen who left hit-making band Cliff Bennett and The Rebel Rousers to replace Tony Jackson on August 3rd 1964 they still maintain the heritage and reputation of the band which today is almost regarded as a national treasure. There have of course been changes in the line-up.

Following Jackson`s 1964 departure Chris Curtis, the drummer and charismatic showman of the band, was to quit at the end of a tour of Australia in March `66 where they had been co-headlining a tour along with The Rolling Stones, a coupling which Frank Allen has wittily described as putting Mother Theresa with Vlad The Impaler. An odd pairing perhaps but a hugely successful venture.

Curtis, in a mentally fragile state at the time, no longer wished to endure the rigours of touring and could not be persuaded to stay. In fact the drum stool, currently occupied by Scott Ottaway, has seen the most changes over the years. Scott is the fifth to fill the position since the band`s professional inception back in 1962 and has at this point been a Searcher for over five years.

In the vocal department things have been more constant with Spencer James taking over from Mike Pender in 1986 and still handling the majority of the lead vocals today. Pender`s departure saw them enduring one of the band`s least pleasant episodes in its history due to the inevitable court case that ensued when their right to the name was in dispute. McNally and Allen were successful and remain owners of that title in law.

The association with the aforementioned Cliff Richard provided them with their largest audience ever somewhat late in their career. In the summer of 1989 Britain`s first pop knight requested their presence to help him celebrate his thirty years as a star and in fact the audience numbered 80,000 on not one but on each of two days at the giant football stadium.

Indeed Sir Cliff on another occasion was backed by The Searchers during a charity show at the world famous Wentworth Golf Club and even Cliff`s Shadows would have to admit their accompaniment was not too shoddy at all.

Their presentation has changed radically over the years. In the first flush of chart success a top of the bill spot consisted of a mere twenty minutes giving them barely enough time for half a dozen songs. Nowadays, still in their iconic high cut three button black suits, white shirts and black ties, they occupy the stage for the entire evening presenting what is essentially a history of the band in music and anecdotes lasting for a full two hours.

Tales of their travels and amusing stories of happenings along the way occupy the spaces between the hits, the B sides, the album tracks and other selections that colour their career whether as tributes to fellow artistes or culled from their later recordings which, though maybe less well known are still in constant demand from their ardent followers.

The distinctive jangle of the twelve string guitar remains a most important feature of their sound and those rich and vibrant harmonies still embellish the songs that have provided a soundtrack to the lives of so many. The eternal popularity of this legendary group ensures that the demand for concerts is always there but the real reason for maintaining that exhausting work rate is the best reason of all, the love of their music and appreciation of their heritage.

It goes without saying that the final run of concerts are going to be sell-outs everywhere and the evenings ahead will be a mixture of both happiness and sadness for many. But the music is not going to die. It will be there forever and their songs will be sung forever and if at any time in the future The Searchers wish to come out of retirement for a concert or two there will no doubt be dancing in the streets. This is a much loved band. They appreciate everything they have been given and have always strived to give back in return.

Tickets for The Searchers at Camberley Theatre on March 29th can be bought by clicking here.

 

 

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Filming the Sleeping Beauty Cast!

We had a very busy day yesterday filming the cast of  Sleeping Beauty – first of all at the theatre and then around Camberley Town Centre.

Luckily Drippy the Dragon looked after the Box Office for us while we were working.

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Until he became Sleeping Beauty himself and nodded off, poor love!

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We didn’t work him too hard though, and he was rewarded with a bag of jelly babies and a little sit-down afterwards.

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The cast were all interviewed and sang lovely Christmas songs for us – they are all a bit forgetful though and forgot some of the words. We’ll need your help to remember these – more on our social media pages about this soon. You might win two family tickets to see ‘Sleeping Beauty’ if you can help us out!

Nanny Nee Naw and Princess Aurora then went off on a shopping trip around town and even stopped off to help sell some fruit and veg!

 

Tickets for ‘Sleeping Beauty’ are on sale now and some shows have actually already sold out. For more details click here.

Meet our 2018 panto cast!

This year we are all set to present a brand new adaptation of the classic fairy-tale, Sleeping Beauty. Following 2017’s Peter Pan which received glowing reviews and became our most successful pantomime ever; we hope to make this year’s pantomime even bigger and better than ever!

We are very pleased to announce that Louise Young will play Princess Aurora. Louise grew up in Lightwater and went to Collingwood College secondary school and sixth form. She was inspired to become an actress by her drama teacher Mrs Roberts and went on to train at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.

Princess Aurora

Louise Young will play Princess Aurora

Louise said “Having grown up in Lightwater, Camberley has always held a special place in my heart. After four years of working in London, I’m so excited to bring the Christmas spirit home.”

Letitia Hector, Chanai Ankrah and Monique Ashe-Palmer will play the super soulful fairies Here, There and Everywhere. They’ve got attitude, sass and incredible vocals!

Fairies

Fairy Here, Fairy There and Fairy Everywhere

Every pantomime needs a dame! Nick Wymer will make his debut at Camberley Theatre as the warm, witty and wonderful Nanny Nee Naw. Nanny Nee Naw carries a torch for the majestic King Cedric who will be played by Alan Mitchell.

Nanny Nee Naw

Meet Nanny Nee Naw

King Cedric

Nanny Nee Naw loves King Cedric

Melanie Stevens will take on the role of Carabosse, the most evil fairy of them all. Carabosse has cursed Princess Aurora meaning on her eighteenth birthday she will prick her finger on a spinning wheel and be lost forever in a deep sleep.

Carabosse

The evil Carabosse – Boooooooo!

The lovable palace jester Muddles will be played by Ewan Goddard. He is truly, madly deeply in love with Princess Aurora but will he tell her? Steve Banks will play the dashing and handsome Prince Florizel who will do everything he can to try and save Princess Aurora.

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The lovely jester Muddles

Prince Florizel

Meet the dashing Prince Florizel

Sleeping Beauty Producer and Camberley Theatre Manager Andy Edmeads said “Following the success of Peter Pan, we are hugely excited to bring this magical and enchanting pantomime to life this Christmas. Expect energetic choreography, singalong songs, laugh out loud jokes and a plenty of audience interaction!”

Will Prince Florizel find his way through the enchanted forest? Will Princess Aurora ever wake up? You’ll have to come along to find out!

Join all the cast on a magical adventure full of fun, laughs and audience interaction. This brand new pantomime is not to be missed. Sleeping Beauty runs from 10-31 December 2018. Book now via the website www.camberleytheatre.co.uk.

Meet Barry Steele AKA Roy Orbison

The Roy Orbison Story are appearing at Camberley Theatre on Saturday September 15th, we caught up with main man, Barry Steele ahead of their performance to ask a few questions.

BARRY STEELE

MEET BARRY STEELE

What can the Theatre audience expect from your show The Roy Orbison Story?

I am backed in this all live multi-media show, with not only a fabulous band and musicians, but a big screen featuring both live streaming, and images from the life and times of Roy Orbison, interspersed with factoids and information about the life and times of what is considered to be one of the best singers the world has ever known.

When did you first discover your singing abilities and their likeness to Roy Orbison’s?

It was on a family holiday in Cornwall in 2001 that I took the first steps on the road to becoming a professional singer, when my wife Lynne and daughter Leonie entered me into a singing competition without my knowledge. It was there that a fellow competitor said to me, “You know you sound just like Roy Orbison singing Robbie Williams!” so with the help of family and friends a tribute to The Big ‘O’ was born

What is your favourite Roy Orbison song?

California Blue & Leah

With so many great songs to choose from, how did you pick which ones to include in the show?

The set list has evolved over the years, and with the back catalogue Roy Orbison has it was difficult to choose, however we used feedback from the audience and of course we sing the best sellers, but there are a few surprises in this year’s show. Orbison’s songs not only have wonderful melodies and tunes, the lyrics are some of the most sublime ever written.  Not only does the music take you back in time, the songs can make you happy, sad and emotive all at the same time. Orbison is known as a balladeer, but he also recorded and performed rocky and contemporary songs. His songs are quite simply timeless.

BARRY STEELE (2)

What has been one of your fondest memories from your shows?

Touring New Zealand, meeting Wesley Orbison (Roy’s son) and duetting with Bill Dees (co-writer of Oh Pretty Woman).

Looking back, what would you say some of your career highlights have been?

As above really, but one highlight is about to happen as we make our West End Debut in December at The Adelphi Theatre.

What have been your main challenges surrounding this production and how have you overcome them?

As we tour continuously, last year’s Aussie flu hit the cast pretty hard. But we carried on and just kept going.

What’s next for Barry Steele after The Roy Orbison Story tour?

We have no plans to stop touring; we will continue to tour the show for as long as possible, as we love it.

 

 

#WorldTheatreDay Pt. 5 Kate Noviss

Kate Noviss (Marketing Manager)

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As a child the minute we  convinced my dad that we didn’t want to see panto at Christmas but preferred visiting London’s West End was the same time I realised the magic of escaping into the bright lights of a story brought to life on stage.

From Chess, Me and My Girl, Starlight Express, Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables and 42nd Street at one point there wasn’t a musical on in London I hadn’t dragged my family to see.

Once I moved out of the family home rather disappointingly the cost of theatre tickets rested with me! Now whilst there are a number of shows on in London at any given time that I haven’t seen these days I indulge my love of theatre in a different way.

After having my own children and feeling like I needed something for myself (and as the realisation that I wasn’t an undiscovered Ruthie Henshall finally sunk in) I took a magical first brave step into a local amateur dramatics group.

Crazy For You (EBOS – East Berkshire Operatic Society)

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Having never had any sort of training it was certainly a baptism of fire! Auditions were jaw clenchingly terrifying as a newbie and I’ve learnt an entire new language. Never more embarassed than not knowing the call ‘Act One Beginners’ actually means ‘if you are meant to be onstage as the curtain opens get yourself to the stage now!’

Crazy For You (EBOS – East Berkshire Operatic Society)

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I’ve met a whole new group of people whilst treading the boards – ever patient every time I say ‘what’s position 2 again?’;  challenged myself like never before (tap dancing in formation when I didn’t know my wings from my paddle steps… to be honest still not sure that I do!) and felt the supreme magic of a spot light on your face and just realised a secret ambition to be mic’d up for a show!! (to me this is as close to ‘fame’ as I will ever get!).

Chess (EBOS – East Berkshire Operatic Society)

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chess

I’ve shared the drama of props in the wrong place on the stage, missed cues followed by some ad lib, the joy of finalling nailing waltzing in a circle, principle cast members with their backs to an audience intent on making you laugh, costume fails and people falling off the stage into the orchestra pit.

The Wizard of Oz (EBOS – East Berkshire Operatic Society)

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I still love going to see a show but I now almost prefer being in one!

(Photos all courtesy of My World My Eyes)

#WorldTheatreDay Pt. 4 Nick Duncan

Nick Duncan (Senior Theatre Technician)

How long have you worked within theatre? 2 years

Why did you choose theatre as a career? The vast variety of shows that I could be involved in and a passion for lighting them steered me into theatre. Been able to work with so many different people and all over the country gives good social and networking abilities.

What’s the best thing you’ve worked on at Camberley Theatre – why was it so good? The best shows I have worked on would be Camberley Theatre’s pantos this is not only because it is a chance for us all to use our creative skills but also to create friendships and professional relationships due to it being in the theatre for 5 weeks.

Here’s Nick helping one of the ‘Peter Pan’ cast learn to fly!

 

Panto BTS Flying 2nd Oct 18

What’s the last thing you saw outside of Camberley Theatre? Kinky Boots in London

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#WorldTheatreDay pt.3 Andy Edmeads

Andy Edmeads (Venue Manager)

How long have you worked within theatre?

I started working professionally as an actor when I was 12 and started working in venues when I was 24. I’ve been at Camberley Theatre since December 2014 and a couple of roles later, I’m now Venue Manager.

Why did you choose theatre as a career?

Since I was Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Junior School, theatre is all I’ve ever wanted to do. Having worked as an actor for about 10 years before moving into theatre marketing and management, I love the people you meet and the variety of the work. No two days are ever the same!

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Do  you ever get a chance to go to see shows not connected with work?

Yes all the time! Having met lots of wonderful people at University who have gone on to work in the industry as well and people connected with productions I’ve worked on I’m always able to go and see a range of shows. It’s always good to see shows at other venues to get ideas and inspiration.

What’s the best thing you’ve worked on at Camberley Theatre – why was it so good?

I’m always very excited and proud of our in-house pantomimes. They’ve got better and better in recent years and I love the team of people who work on the show and it’s a great time of year for all of the staff here to get involved with.

The excitement of breaking all sales records with Peter Pan in December is a definite highlight for me!

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What’s the last thing you saw outside of Camberley Theatre?

I saw a new production of A Streetcar Named Desire at Nuffield Theatre Southampton on Saturday. It’s my favourite play and it was a really neat, updated version. It’s a brand new venue too so was great to get some ideas for our refurb in the summer!

 Favourite ever piece of theatre, either that you’ve seen or wished you’d seen.

I think Moulin Rouge Secret Cinema has to be up there. I’m loving the trend for immersive and interactive theatre and I think we’ll see more and more of this sort of theatre. They really created the right atmosphere and world of the play and you forgot all about life outside – I could have seen it again and again!