'Allo 'Allo at the Festival of Chichester

The Chichester Players
The Chichester Players

As stage manager Gill Montgomery says, it’s a pretty odd list of props she’s got to keep an eye on.

There’s a mousetrap-trimmed suspender belt; there’s exploding cheese, plus an inflatable Hitler. Also required are knockwurst sausages and a very specific painting, one depicting the fallen Madonna with the big... well, you know what.

There’s only one show it could possibly be.

‘Allo ‘Allo is being staged by the Chichester Players for the Festival of Chichester, with performances running from

Wednesday-Saturday, June 20-23, 7.30pm plus Saturday, June 23, 2.30pm in the Centenary Theatre, Chichester High School, Kingsham Road, Chichester, PO19 8EB.

The stage version of BBC comedy takes us back to World War Two France. Rene Artois runs a small café where Resistance fighters, Gestapo men, German army officers and escaped Allied POWs interact daily, ignorant of one another’s true identity or presence...

“It is such tremendous fun,” says Gill. “We did something really nice and sweet for our winter show with The Wind In The Willows, and then we did a modern small-cast piece which had comedy and a lot of deep moments with The Memory of Water in March, early April, a piece looking at family relationships. This is now a bit of light relief.

“We have done Fawlty Towers in the past, but that was doing episodes. And Dad’s Army was the same, but with this one we are actually doing the stage version which was done at the London Palladium. It has all the well-loved elements of the actual series, but it is actually a play.

“I haven’t stage-managed for a while, but it is good fun to do, making sure that everyone is ready and all the props are there.”

Gill came to Chichester in 1977. She arrived in the July and joined the Chichester Players in the September.

“I had been doing drama for years. It is something I have always been involved in. If you have got the acting bug, then it is just something that is great to join in with. I just can’t imagine my life without having acting in it. Like a lot of people I would have liked to have done it professionally, but at least it is something that you can enjoy as a hobby, and when you are doing it as an amateur you get so many more opportunities. As a professional I wouldn’t have been able to design sets and make costumes and stage-manage.”

Inevitably, things have changed over the years.

“I think these days it is harder for people to find the time to do things like this. But when you do, you get such a great deal of pleasure and satisfaction. We did The Accrington Pals, and I had a tragic part in that, which brought its own rewards. Really it is the variety that is such good fun. If they are successful, a lot of actors can get typecast, but that doesn’t happen here. I just love doing it.”

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