Theatre in the Community - The Producers

The Joseph Rowntree Theatre has been community-run since 2001, always maintained, looked after and run by volunteers from the local area. This is one of the things which makes us such a unique resource for theatre groups in the area; we are run by the community for the community to benefit. The Producers, our in house musical fundraiser is on stage from 8 to 10 February 2018, and is helping us to build on this community in a big way! 

The real-life producers of The Producers



With only three weeks to go until our highly anticipated in-house musical fundraiser, we thought you might want to hear a little more about the brains behind the operation! 
Heading the production team is local business owner Kayleigh Oliver. Kayleigh graduated from the University of York in 2012 with a Masters in Theatre: Writing, Directing and Performance, and has gone on to direct and produce several shows in the York area, including shows for York Shakespeare Project and Jorvik Gilbert and Sullivan Company. Kayleigh is a veteran of the Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, and has directed many shows with her own award-winning theatre group based in the North East, Dauntless Theatre. Kayleigh says of the experience of The Producers that:
“The opportunity to lead this show has been a fantastic one. From absolutely nothing, we have brought together a performing cast of 27, going from auditions in October to a full musical spectacular in February. The show, even with three weeks to go, is of an incredible standard, and this is testimony to the talent and hard work of the community cast, who have been attending complex singing, dancing and acting rehearsals twice a week since November. There are so many great performers on the York theatre circuit, and it has been a pleasure to work with many of the regulars in this hilarious production, where we literally have never stopped laughing in rehearsals. I really hope many of you can come down and see the show, and most importantly, help support the wonderful local resource that is the Joseph Rowntree Theatre. You’ll be laughing all the way home, I can guarantee it!”


Taking up the baton in the pit will be musician, teacher and musical director Jessica Douglas. Jess is a also a graduate of the University of York and holds a BA(Hons) in Music. She is well known locally as pianist and violinist, and she has recently been the musical director for several companies, including NE Musicals, Jorvik Gilbert and Sullivan Company, and York Stage Musicals. While at university she also won “Best Musical Director” at the International Gilbert and Sullivan Fringe Festival.



Dusting off her tap shoes as our choreographer for The Producers is Kendra Bush, who has travelled from Matlock in Derbyshire to loan us her expertise every Sunday. Kendra enjoyed a full extra-curricular dancing timetable during her degree at The University of St Andrews. Since graduating Kendra has continued her dance teaching, lessons and exams, and has performed regularly with Matlock Musical Theatre, taking responsibility for choreographing their current and last two shows.


Last but by no means least, is our assistant director Alex Schofield. A regular performer in York, Alex has taken roles with Jorvik Gilbert and Sullivan Company on the Joseph Rowntree Theatre stage since 2011. He made his directorial debut in 2016 with The Pirates of Penzance before taking some time out after the birth of his first child. He has back with a vengeance in his hands-on role assisting with The Producers and is thoroughly enjoying his experience, saying:
“I’m excited to be part of this new venture for the theatre, and to have the opportunity to work with such a talented and hardworking cast, who have really come together as a group. The show is going to be fun, high quality and high energy, and we know people will have a fabulous and really enjoyable time watching it”


Meet the Principals

York has an incredibly vibrant theatre scene, and so it is no surprise that many of our principals have trodden the boards before – most of them in our own theatre!

Andrew-hs Taking the huge lead role of larger than life Broadway Producer Max Bialystock is theatre scene regular Andrew Isherwood. Andrew has recently been an active member of York Shakespeare Project, York Settlement Community Players, York Theatre Royal community productions and NE Musicals, starring in many of their recent performances.
Joining him leading the show as nervous accountant Leo Bloom is Robert Fisher, who has often performed at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre and others with local groups York Light Youth, Pick Me Up Theatre, Bev Jones Music Company, and York Orchard. Between them, Andrew and Rob will be on stage almost all the time singing, dancing and relentlessly entertaining at the head of a cast of 6 strong principals and almost 20 ensemble performers. Robert-hs
Jonny-hs Jonny Holbeck, another regular member of York Stage Musicals and Pick Me Up Theatre, will be scene stealing in his incredibly popular portrayal of Franz Leibkind, the slightly insane German writer of the play within the play, “Springtime for Hitler”.
Taking only her second lead role in a musical, Nikki Ainscough will be proving she’s got it to flaunt as blonde Swedish bombshell Ulla. Nikki-hs
Larry-hs Rounding up the team will be Larry Gibson, a stalwart of York Musical Theatre Company, as the eccentric Broadway director Roger DeBris.
Playing opposite Roger DeBris as “common law assistant” the delightfully camp Carmen Ghia, is Martin Lay, who has performed recently with NE Musicals, York Light Opera and Jorvik Gilbert and Sullivan Company. Martin-hs

Photography by Simon Charles Photography 


We have already introduced you to our principal characters, but a musical production of this scale is absolutely nothing without its ensemble performers! We have a strong ensemble cast (which includes both director and assistant director in cameo roles!) who have been working hard on a show, and many of them have taken on multiple roles – and even more costume changes.

Heading up the Ensemble in the iconic role as “Springtime Tenor” is Stuart Sellens, another Jorvik Gilbert and Sullivan Company regular, who makes his directorial debut with them in September this year. He is joined by theatre scene regular Mark Simmonds, who wins the award for most named part ensemble roles – you’ll spot him! Playing our usherettes/lead little old ladies are Susan Blenkiron, Amy Lacy, and Jennifer Page, all of whom have been prominent members of other York groups in the last few years. York theatre scene regular and band member Nick Jackson also joins us on stage in several roles, and in the role of bad mannered accountant Mr Marks, Bill Laverick, in only his second ever musical.

Treading the boards for the first ever time in this production will be Tom Sharkey and Murie Nicholson, both of whom volunteer with the theatre, Tom as a steward and Murie as a followspotter. Alastair Bush also joins the cast, in his first show since school, alongside his role as trustee on the theatre board – and you’ll also spot steward Julie Shrimpton on stage tapping away.

Roger DeBris’ flamboyant team features Karen Brunyee, in one of her first shows after moving to York 2 years ago, and Jono Wells, in his first performance in the York area. Joining the line of glamorous dancing girls is Lorna Newby, back to performing after a 6 year break, performing arts student Amy Batters and another Jorvik Gilbert and Sullivan Company and Hull Savoyards regular, Kathryn Tinson. Also joining the ensemble is James Hirst, who enjoys singing with the DeCosta Academy, and featuring as one of the Springtime Valykrie Girls is Ruth Boag-Chapman, who first trod the JRT boards 40 years ago!

It’s a wide and varied cast, but one of the things they all agree on is how much fun this production has been to work on; partly due to Mel Brooks' hilarious book, and because, as a newly formed group, the company had a really unusual dynamic because almost everyone was new to each other. They have tap danced, pigeon puppeted and sang with gusto together for only four months to produce this show; if you’d like to come along and support their sterling efforts, book your tickets now!

Some comments from the cast about taking part in The Producers:

Larry Gibson (Roger DeBris) – I've thoroughly enjoyed working on the delivery of some of the craziest dialogue in musical theatre and working with a very talented group of performers.

Robert Fisher (Leo Bloom) - My favourite thing about this show has genuinely been learning to tap dance! Having never done it before it was amazing to learn a new skill that’s so much fun to do!

Andrew Isherwood (Max Bialystock) - This has been a very enjoyable production, working with new actors and new production team. Seeing the company come together, develop their skills to deliver what will be a terrific show has been really great to be a part of. On a personal note, I’ve relished that chance to be in a show that pushes me to try new things and see what I’m capable of.

Ruth Chapman (Ensemble) - Those looking for proof of the possible excitement awaiting them in their active senior years can look forward to the enlightening tap routines!

One of the Funniest Shows of All Time

With such a strong principal lineup as well as a 20 strong ensemble, the show is bound to be an absolute smash hit.

Adult £14.00

Senior £12.00

Student & Child £10.00

Book your tickets today.