TV Star to perform on our stage
Coming to Harrogate Theatre in April is a brilliant, raucous comedy set in the summer of 1962 that tells the story of The Glee Club - made up of six hard-working, hard-drinking miners - as they prepare for the local gala. Though they’re established in the working men’s clubs, they aren’t exactly at the vanguard of a musical revolution. Britain and music are about to change, so too are the lives of these six men. Will anything ever be the same again?
Bill Ward plays Bant in the show. It’s highly likely you will have watched Bill in something on telly. He’s been in Casualty, Holby City, The Bill, Silent Witness, Doctors, Corrie (as Charlie Stubbs), Emmerdale (as James Barton), and Ward appeared in two episodes of EastEnders at the start of his career.
But while TV has made Ward a household name, the theatre retains a special place in his heart - “A live audience is magnificent, you get instant feedback every night.” Ward has a theatre CV as long as his TV one.
The Glee Club follows six miners, in 1962 in Edlington Colliery, near Doncaster. By day they’re half-a-mile underground, and by night they’re singing close harmony and barber shop songs to unwind and amuse themselves. The play follows them as they begin to rehearse for the annual village gala, and we follow them as they face some seismic moments in their lives.
Ward adds “My character is a career miner and a loose cannon. He’s funny, he’s violent, he’s a bit of a law unto himself. He’s a very kind man, he’s got a heart of gold, but that heart is often covered up by his temper and his willingness to get into fights and trouble of any kind.”
“The play is a very rare thing, it’s very funny, with great music, but with a real emotional heart,” says Ward. “You care for every single one of the characters in the play.”
Asked about the downside of touring, you get the impression he’s so enamoured of his work that the negatives are few and far between. This may be down to the fact that he came to the profession late – he turned his back on a successful career in advertising to study acting aged 30.
Advertising’s loss was drama’s gain, as audiences all over the country – including those right here in Harrogate - are about to discover.
First published in Harrogate Advertiser THU 13 FEB.