Harding’s festive play is a real family affair for director Bob

Bob and Kathy Gemmell with grandchildren Lucy, 11, and Harry, nine.
Bob and Kathy Gemmell with grandchildren Lucy, 11, and Harry, nine.

It will certainly be a family affair when a long-established am dram company enters a new era by bringing Mike Harding’s festive comedy Comfort and Joy to the Lowther Pavilion stage.

While Bob Gemmell directs, among the 10-strong cast for the Lytham Anonymous Players is his wife Kathy, for who art will be imitating life.

She plays grandma to none other than her real-life grandchildren, Lucy and Harry, who had no hesitation in say ‘yes’ when grandad Bob asked them if they wanted to be involved.

The roles for Lucy, an 11-year-old pupil at Carr Hill High School, Kirkham, and nine-year-old Harry, who attends Freckleton CE School, are ‘small but very important’ according to Bob – and he hopes they will lead to them developing an enthusiasm for the stage on which they can build in years to come.

“It is a great opportunity to introduce them to the stage at a young age and I hope the experience will give them enthusiasm for what we do,” said Bob, who lives in Freckleton,

“Too many youngsters these days seem to think the stage is all about song and dance, as influenced by the TV talent shows.

“But I hope this gives them a good initial grounding for appreciating the delights of comedy and drama.”

Comfort and Joy is the first play to be staged by the company since it took the decision to add the prefix Lytham to their previous title, the Anonymous Players.

Founded in Blackpool in the 1930s, the Players have been staging a number of performances annually at Lowther for the past three decades and Bob said: “It’s the ideal way to firm up our local identity.

“I joined the company when I moved up here from Essex five years ago and I have had a great time with them, acting in some productions and directing others. We are all really enjoying rehearsals for Comfort and Joy and looking forward to the performances.”

Harding’s play features the traditional family Christmas gathering – the tree, the turkey, the presents and the characters we all recognise from our own festive gatherings – the out-of-tune carol singers, the new neighbours, the relatives who flock home for the holidays, the daughter’s new boyfriend

Comfort and Joy runs from November 26 to 28. Ticket details from the Lowther box office on (01253) 794221.