Saucy tale of king's mistress brought to Scarborough stage - tickets on sale now

Rebecca Kelly Evans as Nell, with the Orange Girls Anita Hill, Kathryn Mundey, Louise Stanway and Sylvia Terry
Rebecca Kelly Evans as Nell, with the Orange Girls Anita Hill, Kathryn Mundey, Louise Stanway and Sylvia Terry

Sandside Players  in flamboyant costume and strong voice prepare for their single performance of Bill Scott’s musical Oh, Nell! this week.

The musical charts Nell Gwynne’s rise from the London streets to stardom as one of the first actresses in the Restoration theatre and to Royal favour as Charles II’s most famous mistress.

Originally written in the 1980s for performance by Scarborough College and Graham School pupils, the musical has been revised for Sandside Players’ cast of 15 adults and Bill Scott’s 80-strong Scarborough Community Choir.

The choir will also present a varied programme of songs, from Glenn Miller to The Beatles, in its annual charity concert.

There will be a guest solo appearance by pianist Frank James.

“The show’s a rollercoaster,” said director Tim Tubbs, who also plays one of the actors at the King’s Theatre.

“Nell Gwynne’s rags to riches story took her from her mother’s dubious tavern, to the King’s Theatre where she sold oranges and became the star comedienne, before catching Charles II’s eye and becoming the witty darling of his court, the most famous of his many mistresses.

“It’s set in the 1660s, against the Great Plague, the Fire of London and a disastrous Dutch War,” adds composer and musical director Bill Scott.

“It was a time of violence, excess and dissipation, so there’s terrific scope for dramatic music and entertainment.”

Cast: Rebecca Kelly-Evans (Nell Gwynn), Kathryn Irwin (Madam Gwynn/Lady Castlemaine), Lesley Machen (Madam Ross/Queen Catherine), Linda Polkowski (Rose Gwynn), Louise Stanway (Orange Moll), Nathan Mundey (Will Duncan), Dave Blaker (Thomas Killigrew), Hilary Watts (King Charles II), Andrew Clay (Charles Hart), Tim Tubbs (John Lacey), Chris Gray (Rough Man), with Roger Crowther, Anita Hill, Kath Mundey and Sylvia Terry.

Oh, Nell! is on at Westborough Methodist Church, Scarborough, on Saturday March 9 in the presence of mayor of Scarborough Joe Plant.

All proceeds will go to local charities Dial-A-Ride and Steps at Gallows Close.

Tickets: £5 on the door, or in advance from Woodend on 01723 384500.