Former theatre archivist and Bevin Boy meets cast of The Glee Club

THE cast of the musical theatre show The Glee Club met former Theatre Royal Winchester archivist Phil Yates – after they learned that they share a special connection.

The Glee Club tells the story of five miners and a church organist rehearsing for a local gala in the 1960s, while Phil was one of the Bevin Boys – young men conscripted to work in the coal mines during World War II. Plus, The Glee Club is set in South Yorkshire while Phil worked in the west of the county.

Phil talked to the cast about being conscripted and working down the mines and told them that they portrayed the camaraderie between miners perfectly.

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The cast said: "We had a lovely time meeting Phil. He recognised a number of references of the play and the set. For example, the pit wheels on stage were similar to the ones at the pit that he worked at."

Most people know of Phil as one of the ‘Gang of Six’ who helped save the theatre from the threat of demolition (and being turned into a supermarket) in 1974. It reopened in November 1978.

That summer a group was formed to raise money to buy the building – once a hotel, a cine-variety venue where audiences watched live acts and silent films and a full-time cinema that showed news from the front-line during World War II. In 1977 the group bought the building and refurbished it themselves and in November 1978 it opened as the Theatre Royal.

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