Harrow's Belmont Theatre stages a large-scale musical production of Jack the Ripper at The Pump House in Watford

Times Series: Saucy Jack with one of his victims Saucy Jack with one of his victims

It’s that time of year when all of our thoughts turn fondly to the Victorian, pea-souper streets of Whitechapel and the brutal murders of prostitutes.

Wait, what? Jack the Ripper? That’s not very Christmassy, is it?

“Not really,“ laughs Andrea Richardson of Harrow group Belmont Theatre, which is staging a musical version of Jack the Ripper at The Pump House next week. “But this is very much a chirpy production, full of both dark bits and comedy and some really funny songs, including a couple of beautiful, heartfelt duets. It’s an emotional rollercoaster.“

Belmont first staged Jack the Ripper in 2005 at the Harrow Arts Centre and it was such a success that they have decided to present it again.

The musical is a colourful, large-cast production and was written in 1974 by Ron Pember with music by Denis de Marne, and recreates in a light-hearted and comic way the savage Ripper murders of 1888 in the squalid, bawdy Victorian East End of London.

“There’s a back story focusing on one of the prostitutes, Marie Kelly,“ Andrea explains, “and there’s also the mystery of who the killer might be, which is resolved in the end, and there’s a storyline of hope running through it all.“

Given the subject matter of the story, the play is unsuitable for very young children, but teenagers and parties of school children are invited to join the audience, which is also set to include Ripperologists coming from hundreds of miles away.

“It’s a surprisingly popular musical considering the content,“ laughs Andrea, who plays both madam Lizzie Stride and Queen Victoria.

“What I like best about it is the heart of the story,“ she continues. “The songs and the music and the storyline go so well together, but it’s life in those times that brings the real emotion of the story together for me.“

  • Jack the Ripper is at The Pump House Theatre, Local Board Road, off Lower High Street, Watford from Wednesday, November 28 to Saturday, December 1 at 7.45pm with a Saturday matinee at 2.45pm. Details: 0845 521 3453, belmonttheatre.co.uk, www.pumphouse.info 

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