Market Theatre team hope new Hitchin show will be a RIP-roaring success

Hitchin's Market Theatre presents The Happy Funeral. Pictured are Pippa Johnson, Lauren Osborn and A

Hitchin's Market Theatre presents The Happy Funeral. Pictured are Pippa Johnson, Lauren Osborn and Anya Williams - Credit: Archant

Funerals are usually sombre affairs, but Kirk Foster doesn’t see why you can’t say goodbye without having a bit of a giggle.

And the title of his latest work leaves little doubt about that – The Happy Funeral opens at Hitchin’s Market Theatre on Thursday for a two-week run.

It’s mourning with both mirth and music, and tells the story of three sisters.

The focus is on Maggie, played by London actress Anya Williams, Kate – Lauren Osborn, who featured in the Little Red Riding Hood panto production – and Desi, a role for Market Theatre stalwart Pippa Johnson, as well as their relationships with each other, their other halves and, most importantly, their father.

Writer/director Kirk Foster, a mainstay of the Market Theatre set-up throughout its 20 years in the town, says: “It is difficult to say too much about the plot without giving things away – but let’s just say the three girls have never got on with their father, who is a world-famous actor.

“When they learn that he is very ill and also about to re-marry, it brings them together in a plot to ensure that their inheritance is not handed over to their stepmother-to-be.”

Kirk says that his intention is to provoke laughs as well as a little reflection on life’s big issues, and is also promising a twist that he is confident the audience will never see coming.

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Theatre fans can pat themselves on the back if they spot how closely the girls are based on famous Shakespearean characters – after all, 2016 is the 400th anniversary of the Bard breathing his last, and their fictional father boasts a notable catalogue of performances in roles created by the Swan of Avon.

Desi is based on Desdemona from Othello and Kate has links to Kathry in The Taming Of The Shrew. Maggie is not quite such an easy match – she’s based on. Maggie based on Queen Margaret, who appears in four of Shakespeare’s history plays.

Theatre manager Glyn Doggett said: “We are very excited about this new musical as it will be a first try out for what we hope will grow to become a bigger production in the future.

“We are already looking at a regional tour next year and a potential run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.”

There are only six chances to catch the show after the premiere – the last performance will be on Saturday, May 28.

You can book tickets (£12.50 with £10.50 concessions available for Thursday shows only) by calling the box office on 01462 433553 or visiting www.markettheatre.co.uk.

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