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2013 Capital Fringe Show Preview: The British Players’ ‘Old Time British Music Hall’ by Chrish Kresge

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The British Players’ Old Time British Music Hall is an annual event which has been taking place in the Washington/DC area since 1964. Originally called The British Embassy Players, the group now puts on three productions a year at the Kensington Town Hall in Kensington, Maryland. With its mission of bringing British plays and shows to Washington area theatre lovers and of contributing to British and American charities, the group continues to enhance Anglo-American relationships. Claiming over two hundred members, the group is a vibrant part of the theatre community and oversees the Ruby Griffith Awards for excellence in amateur theatre each year.

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The origins of British Music Hall can be traced back to the sixteenth century when English Kings and Queens imported singers, musicians, jugglers, jesters and their like – notably from Italy – to entertain in the royal courts. The citizens, not to be outdone by their rulers, encouraged home grown talent to form small groups who would perform in parks, pleasure gardens and taverns, and travel from town to town as “wandering minstrels.” In 1752, the Music Hall Act, signed by King George II, gave legitimacy to this rambunctious form of entertainment which lasted until it lost support to cinema and radio after World War I.

As for the Music Hall itself, if you have never experienced it, you are in for a treat. It is a non-stop extravaganza of singing, dancing, bawdy jokes, and questionable acting. Our audiences are encouraged to participate in the singing by a bevy of ‘saucy’ barmaids even before the show begins and, with wine, beer and snacks being served in the ‘cabaret-style’ auditorium, the entertainment can only improve. Shortened versions of the annual show are taken ‘on the road’ from time to time as either charitable events or as a way to introduce the medium to a larger audience – hence our participation this year in the 2013 Capital Fringe Festival.

British Music Hall is similar to American vaudeville and comprises songs, sketches and comedy – frequently relying on saucy innuendo for the humor. Music Hall showcases soloists, chorus numbers, dancers, etc. introduced by the MC, “Mr. Chairman – a very original comedian.

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VENUE:
The Studio Theatre’s  Stage 4 – 1501 14th Street NW, in Washington, DC. 

PERFORMANCES:
 (Unfortunately – no drinks or food in the auditorium). 
 Sunday July 14 @ 2:45 pm
Saturday July 20 @10:30 pm
Tuesday July 23 @7:30 pm,
Friday July 26 @ 10:30 pm 
Sunday July 28 @ 4:15 pm.

Purchase your tickets here.

Directed by: Malcolm Edwards and Albert Coia.
Choreography by: Sue Edwards.
Music Directed by: Brock Holmes.
Arranged by: Walter Gilbert.

Featuring Albert Coia, Malcolm Edwards, Sue Edwards, Dan Geske, Kris Humphrey, Ellen Kaplan, Bill Karukas, Stephanie Offutt, Shawn Perry, and Kathy Suydam.

Crew: Lee Zahnow, Jamie Breckenridge, George Krumbhaar, Mike Lewis, Peter Nerestone, John O’Leary, and Don Slater.

Running Time: 60 Minutes.

Recommended for Adults Only.

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