The idea of dreaming of a White Christmas in November may seem a tad strange but the cast of the show of the same name in Sheffield have been doing that since the summer.
Martin Scattergood is one of the stars of the musical being put on by Sheffield Teachers’ Operatic Society (STOS) at the Lyceum next week.
He said: “We were singing White Christmas on the hottest day of the year in shorts and T-shirts, which felt very, very surreal at the time!”
White Christmas is a musical version of the sentimental 1954 film that starred Danny Kaye and Bing Crosby.
Irving Berlin’s song of the title became a worldwide hit and Bing Crosby’s recording is the biggest-selling single of all time, topping 50 million copies.
Martin Scattergood, who plays the Danny Kaye role of Phil Davis, said: “The joy of it being written by Irving Berlin is that they put in lots of other songs from his catalogue, so you get all the songs in the film plus some others just to carry it along.
“We’ve got the snow, we’ve got the barn and we’ve got the songs. ”
He said: “My character meets up with Bob Wallace (Bing Crosby in the film, played by Matthew Walker) in the US army and the show starts in 1944 when they do a terrible act.
Then you jump forward 10 years when they’ve both become big Broadway stars. Our director said that they’re like an older version of Ant and Dec, omnipresent and everywhere.
“Bob is the serious one and he is the business behind the showbusiness. My character is all about the show.
“There are a couple of girls in the chorus that he flirts with and he falls in love at the drop of a hat. However, he still has a wandering eye and appreciates a well-turned ankle!”
They fall for a couple of showgirls but as usual the path of true love doesn’t run smoothly. The finale takes place in a ski lodge in Vermont, where the boys have put on a show to help their old commanding officer, who is its struggling owner.
Martin said: “I get a couple of big, crowd-pleasing dance numbers.
“Being cheerful all the time is quite tiring but it’s a great show. Matt and I get on like a house on fire and that comes across. ”
Martin has been with STOS on and off for 15 to 16 years and has taken bigger roles for the past five to six years.
“I’m very proud of that and it’s a great company with a lovely feeling to it. Everybody gets on. Those things make it enjoyable and there are some very, very talented people.”
The cast always have to audition and Martin said that everyone is keen to learn new skills .
Martin has two friends flying in from Switzerland to see the show. He said: “I shall be nervous but it’s great to have that support.” It’ll be fun to see what they make of the snow that falls!
Sheffield Teachers’ Operatic Society (STOS) are amateurs but they use a professional director, orchestra and set builders. White Christmas is using 17 musicians to play 17 of Berlin’s songs.
The budget for this show is £103,000, a staggering amount for an amateur production.
Martin said: “What people don’t realise is that we get all our money from ticket revenue, plus a small sponsorship deal with Crystal Peaks.
“David Streeter, our treasurer, does a remarkable job of always budgeting really, really well. We need to make a profit for future shows.”
That commitment means working a long way ahead and STOS has already announced that next year’s big show will be Legally Blonde.
Martin said: “You always have half an eye on the future. We’re building on our reputation. You have to think how are we going to progress?”
He added: “In order for a company to survive you’ve got to sell tickets, so you’ve got to have a good reputation.
“We are really proud to present the world’s top musicals and we’re really proud to be in Sheffield.
“I want as many people as possible to see it. We are amateur performers and not paid but everybody else is… you will get a cracking show.
“We have day jobs and come out on cold, frosty evenings to do this. “
Martin’s day job was nursing for 26 years, latterly as a nurse practitioner, and he spent 16 years as a district nurse. His last working patch was the Birley area.
White Christmas is at the Lyceum next Tuesday to Saturday. Box office: 0114 249 6000 or www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk