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Top brass join group

Amateur dramatics group The People's Theatre is staging the stage version of blockbusting movie Brassed Off next week.

Brassed Off

Amateur dramatics group The People's Theatre is staging the stage version of blockbusting movie Brassed Off next week.

Just like the big screen version, it promises to be packed with laughter and tears as it charts a community's fight for survival.

But this latest adaptation has a fresh spin on it for the North East. While the film was set in Grimley, Yorkshire, director of this production Chris Heckels decided to relocate the action to the fictional village of Edrington, Northumberland.

With the region's rich mining history, it seemed too good an opportunity to miss, not to mention the decline of the pits being a subject particularly close to Heckels' heart. Her father's family were involved in the coal industry in Northumberland and Durham from the time the first pits were sunk in the early 1700s to the death of the coal industry in the North East.

"I was absolutely delighted when I was asked to do the production," says Chris. "It's our tribute to the generations of mining families that have gone before us - and not just my own. Many of the company are only one or two generations away from the coal face. We all feel strongly about the destruction of the industry and the communities that were at the heart of the North East.

"We hope we've managed to capture the spirit of the mining communities, the humour, the tragedy and the indomitable spirit that made them such a powerful force in Britain. And, of course, the music's wonderful!"

It's 1994 and the future is looking uncertain for the miners of Edrington - their pit is under threat and the colliery band is on the verge of breaking up. Yes, colliery band - so step up The Greggs Bakery Band (once the Newbiggin Colliery Band) who will be joining the cast on stage nightly, not just delighting audiences with live music but boasting five new members. Phil (trombone), Harry (Bb Bass), Jim (euphonium), Andy (tenor horn) and Gloria (flugel) are all recent recruits from the Edrington Colliery Band together with Edrington's former conductor Danny. Well actually they are all actors from the production who have been practising with the band!

There will be a chance to `spot-the-impostor' at the band's next engagement on Saturday, July 8, at The Durham Miners Gala.

The band and actors will start playing and marching through the streets of the former mining village of Greenside at 8am. They then travel by coach to Durham City to join the traditional parade playing music from the show along the route.

Band secretary David Kendall says: "Hopefully it will be easy to spot the actors from the real musicians as none of them have ever marched, let alone tried to play."

Brassed Off is at the People's Theatre, Heaton, from Tuesday, July 11, to Saturday, July 15. More details on (0191) 265 5020 or by logging on to www.peoples-theatre.co.uk

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