Derby Theatre steps in to save Present Company musical

Craig Arme plays Cameron Blackstone with Alice Hands as Marissa Harrington Grace

When Present Company was told last week that months of painstaking preparations and rehearsals for the world premiere of the previously unperformed musical “A Sentinental Affair” were scuppered by the sudden closure of Derby Guildhall they turned to Derby Theatre for help.

After a week of meetings, messages and phone calls, the show can now be seen at one matinee performance at Derby Theatre at 3pm on Sunday February 10.

Artistic director for the drama group Jean Gemmell said: “I am thrilled that, thanks to Derby Theatre, Present Company is able to continue with this exciting project.

“We have been regular visitors to Derby Theatre since 1989 and our “White Christmas” there was virtually a sell-out.

“I wanted to give the company the unique opportunity to tackle an entirely new and unknown musical, which was why we originally chose to go to the much smaller Guildhall stage. Now we have twice as many seats to fill so we are hoping that people will support us for this single performance.”

Andy Nairn, Derby Theatre’s Head of Production, suggested that the set Jean had designed for the smaller Guildhall stage could possibly be erected in front of the much larger set for Noughts & Crosses, which is on at the the theatre from February 1-16, for a performance on a day when the play was not scheduled.

Lovers of pre and post war popular music will be much entertained by the new musical written by Edward James and Caroline Fields.

The show was entered for the Vivian Ellis Awards, instituted to encourage composers and lyricists to write for the musical stage.

It is a romantic intrigue set between the wars in London, at the offices of the Daily Sentinel newspaper. Cameron Blackstone, a journalist, just back in London from covering the Spanish civil war, meets and is instantly attracted to a beautiful girl called Marissa.

When he tells his colleagues back in the Sentinel newsroom of his chance encounter,  sub-editor, Harry Sanderson, assumes the girl is Baroness Marissa von Gleibnitz.

The Sentinel has a file on the Baroness providing plenty of low-down – a femme fatale, widow of a wealthy German industrialist, a well known Nazi sympathiser and suspected Fascist spy. Cameron won’t believe a word of it.

To set the scene for the drama In The Town Tonight musicians, conducted by Morris Fisher, will play a selection of well-loved pieces by the A.B.C. of ‘Easy Listening’, Leroy Anderson, Ronald Binge and Eric Coates, so evocative of the pre-war and the war-time years. Forgotten Dreams, Elizabethan Serenade, Knightsbridge March and Calling All Workers.

All tickets bought for the Guildhall Theatre performances will be valid for this show. For other tickets go to