Betty Blue Eyes will make you laugh and melt your heart

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Published: Thursday 13th April 2017 by Rich Sutherland

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Alongside a packed programme of activity, the Northern Academy of Performing Arts (NAPA) is currently performing its main show at Hull Truck Theatre.

Betty Blue Eyes is a wonderfully British and utterly uplifting comedy, with music and lyrics by West End duo George Stiles and Anthony Drewe. It really is something quite special.

Set in a northern town in 1947, everyone is happy that the war is over, yet still they have to make do with measly rations.

These restrictions extend mercilessly to fresh meat, with a single rasher of bacon being apportioned to each household per week. Spam, on the other hand, is widely available, but far from popular.

With Princess Elizabeth preparing to marry Prince Philip, the town’s elite decide to throw a private function. The leading doctor, solicitor and accountant naturally have a place reserved at the banquet table, but this isn’t necessarily the case for the local chiropodist.

This sets the scene for a tale that involves greed, wrongdoing and schemes aplenty, revolving around the rearing of the eponymous pig.

All of this must be hidden from Inspector Wormold, a charmless jobsworth from the Ministry of Food on the lookout for unlicensed meat. This part is played brilliantly by Liam Wheeler, who seems to relish the role of bureaucratic villain.

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The principal cast are either teenagers or barely in their twenties, yet their dedication and passion really bring the zany characters to life on Hull Truck Theatre’s main stage.

Prime examples are Alexander O’Malley as Gilbert Chilvers, who gains the audience’s sympathy to no end whilst raising plenty of laughs.

Katie Newton plays his loyal wife, Joyce Chilvers, with her Hyacinth Bucket sentiments and fierce determination.

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Another particularly noteworthy performer is Esme Kingdom, who despite being 18 is incredibly convincing as a batty 74-year-old. Then there’s Emilio Encinoso-Gil as Henry Allerdyce, a simple and kindhearted soul led by the corrupt town council leaders.

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With a total cast of 35 and a band headed by talented conductor Ben Newton, Betty Blue Eyes is a feast for the senses. The musical score is spot on and the delivery by all cast members is superb.

Then of course there’s Betty herself, who was expertly designed and built by Shawnee Vale. Operating her is Luke Gillingham, an excellent local performer who you may have seen in recent Hessle Theatre productions, including the role of Rod the puppet in Avenue Q.

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Whilst very much a fun night out and affordable at £15 a ticket, Betty Blue Eyes is also a great opportunity to support a local arts charity.

Over the years, NAPA has helped thousands of young performers to build confidence, learn new disciplines and showcase skills in a major venue.

By purchasing a ticket to this energetic and hilarious show, you’ll be helping the organisation to continue its essential work for years to come.

Betty Blue Eyes runs until Saturday 15 April. To book your seats, please call 01482 323638, or you can book online.

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Published: Thursday 13th April 2017 by Rich Sutherland

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