Lichfield author lifts the lid on his new play at the Garrick

Steven Humpherson and Tom McCarron

Steven Humpherson and Tom McCarron

The new double bill of plays penned by Lichfield author Phil Preece reveals the many faces of showbusiness – the has-been looking for something better and the superstars discontented with their success.

Mr Blue Sky and That’s Entertainment come to the Lichfield Garrick Studio next week, following on from Phil Preece’s acclaimed My Diet from Hell, Such a Laugh and House of Pain – again in the studio.

Phil said:

“I’m very fond of small theatre spaces. I love to be as close as possible to the actors to see how they explore their craft and create dramatic effects. My new double bill was written to explore the possibility of  two voices working together, perhaps each mistaking what the other is saying or manipulating their partner’s response. It allows a lot more possibilities while still keeping the intimate focus on the actor’s voice and actions.”

The number of tribute acts around today prompted Phil to write Mr Blue Sky.

Ageing rocker Vince Meager has done the rounds for decades, having a ball, by has maybe missed out on ‘real’ life.

A fan comes backstage one night and he experiences emotions he never thought he could feel.

Phil added:

“The play was written for two actors who can work closely together to create a web of expectations. It’s meant to be funny and poignant, exploring very human feelings, but with a few comic surprises to keep the audience laughing and guessing.”

The play features Denny Hodge as Vince and Della Allen as the fan.

Denny is a multi-talented entertainer with over thirty years’  show business experience.

He began his career as an impressionist in holiday camps and then honed his skills in clubs and on the cabaret circuit.  He eventually dropped the impressions and concentrated on stand-up comedy and  has worked with many legendary acts including Frankie Howerd, Norman Wisdom, Bob Hope, Cilla Black, Billy Fury, Gerry and the Pacemakers and Bob Monkhouse.

In the late 1980s he was spotted by a television casting director who knew that he would be perfect as a studio warm-up comedian.  And so began the next phase in his life as one of the most successful and sought-after TV warm-up artists.

In 2002 Denny made the brave decision to concentrate on his own acting career and bring his personal ambitions back into the foreground.  He enrolled on a performance course at the Birmingham School of Acting, graduating with distinction one year later.

Della Allen began acting as a child when the theatre bug really hit and she has worked consistently ever since. Her first professional role was with OPUS when she played Gwendolyn  Fairfax  in The Importance of Being Ernest in 1989.

Many roles followed and she was delighted to join OPUS once again for the 2008 season – appearing in, amongst others, Phil Preece’s plays My Diet from Hell and House of Pain.

There’s been a last-minute change of cast for second play on this comedy double bill.

Steven Humpherson and Tom McCarron will now play Joe and Lee, a couple of national TV stars at the top of their game, in That’s Entertainment.

Phil said:

“Director Paolo Allen and myself are particularly fortunate that for this play, our own production company, Nobody’s Perfect Productions, has engaged two really dynamite young actors. Steve and Tom are sure to be going places in the future.”

The play centres on an Awards Night and the entertainment industry has come out in force to honour the duo’s  prime-time success.

But in Phil Preece’s usual style, the play reveals that behind the scenes not everything is rosy in TV land, because backstage Joe and Lee are locked in a battle their audience would never suspect.

Phil explained:

“They’ve been together since they were children, so they know each other inside out. In one way their partnership is like a marriage, but it’s also a luxurious trap. When I was writing it I thought of many great comedy duos such as Laurel and Hardy and Morcambe and Wise, but the play is really an examination of human relationships as much as it’s about show business, or, as I call it, the ‘shamorous world of glowbusiness’ we are all so fascinated by.”

Steven Humpherson graduated from The University of Wales, Aberystwyth in 2007. Since then he has been working as a professional actor. He has toured the UK with open-air theatre, worked for Forum Teatro in Valencia on a 10 month National Tour of Spain, and in January he completed an eight-month season for Hammond Productions at Drayton Manor Park.

Since then Steven has been involved in a number of other projects, including a tour of Warwickshire with Cragrats Theatre Company, a feature film credit in Travellers and a four- month placement out in Majorca. Since returning from Spain, Steven has been fortunate to land an array of work both on stage and screen. Apart from landing That’s Entertainment alongside his close friend Tom McCarron, Steven is currently filming a forthcoming feature, titled Brothers in Arms.

Tom McCarron lives at Kings Norton in Birmingham and studied at the University of Wales in Aberystwyth where he gained a BA Honours degree in Drama and Theatre Studies. He is currently working on a long running production of Tight for Brief Candle Theatre Company in which he plays the dual roles of Scott and Wesley.

From January to June last year he did a national tour of Spain for  Forum Teatro y Educacio. Other theatre credits followed, both with the Birmingham Rep Company and productions for the University of Wales.

He played the best Man in Bride and Groom for OPUS Theatre Company, which played the Lichfield Garrick.

Mr Blue Sky and That’s Entertainment are at the Lichfield Garrick Studio on Friday and Saturday September 4 and 5 at 7.30pm.

Tickets, at £12 (£10 students) from the Garrrick box office on 01543 412121 or book online at