Touring theatre company is back at Erlestoke for second production
4:00pm Friday 8th March 2013 in Latest News
Thesounds of Maria, Tonight and Gee Officer Krupke will emanate from the gym at Erlestoke Prison as Wiltshire’s only jail hosts Pimlico Theatre this week.
The company has been producing shows using inmates and professional actors for more than 20 years and rarely ventures outside London and the south east, but this is the second time in two years that it has visited Erlestoke.
Governor Andy Rogers said: “It is a feather in the cap of the prison that Pimlico wanted to come back here so soon. Their production of Les Miserables last year was a fantastic success and the fact they are here again with West Side Story is amazing. It costs them £180,000 to put on a show and this all comes from public donations.”
The gym has been converted into a theatre, with seating for 250.
Musical director Toby Purser, who is conducting the professional 13-piece band, said: “I have been really impressed by the quality and commitment of the prisoners. None of them read music so they have had to learn it parrot fashion but they sound really good.”
As well as 11 professional performers, including Robyn Bailey as Tony and Caryl Hughes as Maria, 20 inmates are taking part either backstage or in named parts.
Neil Cowley, who is nearing release, plays the role of Action, the hyperactive member of the Jets.
He said: “I was in Les Mis and really enjoyed that but I wanted to take it up a notch and see how I got on. The piano is my passion now and I really want to get into it.”
The show continues to the end of the week. Last year the first night was attended by the Duchess of Cornwall.