The action takes place over a 24 hour
period in a large house in a remote village.
The house is a clinic that offers sanctuary, rest, relaxation and therapy to celebrities.
(Photos from Waterside Musical Society’s production Click photos for larger versions)
[1 Overture]. Celebrity Sanctuary has seen better days: it has debts and just two patients:- Angela, an ageing nymphomaniac and Melanie, a D-List celebrity, convinced that the world’s press is after her. What’s more, all the staff have walked out [2 Prologue view an extract of the score] except for Pat who remains loyal to the beleaguered owner / manageress, Valerie.
Suddenly, there’s a chance of
salvation. ‘Victoria’s’ agent rings. She is coming . . . right now! She
will be checking-in as Mrs Smith. She may even suggest to some friends
that they come along as well - but of course she expects no publicity and she
also expects to find a professional, well run establishment, not some run-down
dump with no staff and no fellow celebrities. Valerie laments how unfair it is
that this, her big break, is about to be ruined [3 Duet for Pat and Valerie: Sod’s law - read the lyrics, view an extract of the score, listen
to an extract]
Meanwhile, in the same village there’s an old people’s home called Sunny Seniors run by Mrs Hewitt, a head-mistress like woman who allows her old folk few luxuries. And they are in crisis too. A bungling workman has been digging up the road and left the old people’s home without electricity or water . . . what’s more the loos are backing up.
Under the impression that the clinic is well run and well staffed, Mrs Hewitt marches her inmates into Celebrity Sanctuary [4 Chorus song: Sunny Seniors are us read the lyrics, view an extract of the score, listen to an extract]. She resolves to leave the old folk in Valerie’s care while she and her staff find new premises [read an extract from the lib]. Before she goes, Mrs Hewitt informs Valerie about the care regime she expects [5 Solo for Mrs Hewitt with chorus: Tight Ship - read the lyrics, listen to an extract]. The old folk are a mixed bag – some are very old, some are rather younger - some are more compos mentis than others. Valerie has a plan. Discovering that all are all a little star struck - they read Hello and Heat magazine under the bed clothes – she persuades them to keep schtum and to masquerade as staff and as patients in return for the possibility of rubbing shoulders with ‘Victoria and friends’ [listen to dialogue] Amongst their number are Joanna, Josephine and Joan who all volunteer to act as the staff while the rest will use their in-depth knowledge of the famous in order to pass themselves off as celebrities. As they sing, the old folk really get into the roll, casting off their walking sticks and Zimmer frames [6 Chorus song with solo for Joanna: Count on us - read the lyrics, view an extract of the score, listen to an extract].
And the plot develops . . .
‘Mrs Smith’ duly arrives and, sure enough, she’s heavily disguised. In fact, this is Jenny, not ‘Victoria’. Jenny is soon to be married but first she wants to understand her roots. She was once a teenage runaway and so she has no family – but she has received a tip off that her mother is now running the clinic. She wants to observe Valerie whilst remaining unobserved herself [7 Solo for Jenny: For once in my life - listen to an extract]
Then a succession of furtive people arrive to check in as patients. They are all assumed to be friends of Victoria’s and treated with reverence. In fact, each hides a different secret:-
First, The reporter (likes to think of himself as a hard nosed hack – but is incompetent. He has got wind of ‘Victoria’ and arrives incognito hoping for his big scoop), Mario (Angela’s latest weakness) and John (Jenny’s jealous fiancé who has followed her to the clinic suspecting her of infidelity) Valerie and the ‘celebrities’ reassure the new arrivals that this is a bone fide establishment [8 Chorus song with solo for Valerie: Ever so Discreet- read the lyrics, listen to an extract].
Everyone goes off to bed leaving Valerie and Pat to prepare for the next day. Valerie allows herself for the first time to believe that her fortunes are on the up [9 Solo for Valerie: This could be the time - view an extract of the score, listen to an extract].
Late that evening, there are some strange goings on. Jenny is creeping about looking for childhood memorabilia, Angela and Mario are creeping about looking for each other, John is looking for Jenny whilst the reporter and the photographer - who’s been smuggled into the building [read an extract from the lib] - are looking for a scoop. And all this creeping about in a room with three tempting doors means they are all bound to be popping in and out unexpectedly. Whilst Angela and Jenny are hiding in separate rooms, the reporter decides the photographer needs a crash course in being a member of the paparazzi [10 Duet for The Reporter and the Photographer: You’ve been papped- view an extract of the score, listen to an extract]. Then it’s their turn to hide as Valerie heads for the garden in pursuit of stalker. This is all a warm up for the next sequence which is a set piece farce set to music [11 ensemble piece: You haven’t seen me - read the lyrics, listen to an extract]. During the song, Mario dives into one room expecting to find Angela but discovering the photographer instead. John accosts Mario suspecting him of a liaison with Jenny in another room, Angela makes a play for John in a third room whilst Valerie, oblivious to all this, escorts Jenny across the stage, followed by the photographer’s ludicrously long lens.
Once everything has calmed down, only Pat is left. She starts to day-dream about her fantasy:- she desperately wants to be a celebrity herself. As she dreams, the chorus appear as part of her fantasy. Their ethereal backing gives way to a rock ‘n’ roll middle section and then a big gospel-style ending to close the first act. [12 Solo for Pat with chorus: I wanna be a celebrity - view an extract of the score, listen to an extract].
Act II . . .
[13 Act II prologue – no singing]. The old folk must take over the daily routines and administer the various designer therapies the clinic offers. So now we have amateurs ministering to people they take to be celebrities and ‘celebrities’ who are nothing of the kind but don’t want to be unmasked. Not only that but more disasters in the work trench have left the therapy annexe uninhabitable so massage, sauna and other therapies must take place in make-shift rooms with make-shift equipment. One of the more obscure therapies offered by Celebrity Sanctuary is sing-a-long therapy which involves singing in different styles including ‘cheeky cockney’ and ‘Lloyd Weber’. Josephine is detailed off to instruct everyone [14 Chorus song with solo for Jopsephine: The sing-a-long therapy thing - listen to an extract].
Then comes more traditional farce as patients and therapists come in and out of the make-shift, therapy rooms in a succession of complicated manoeuvres, narrowly avoiding revealing their naked forms to the audience [listen, read an extract from the lib – complete with helpful diagrams describing the towel manoeuvres!].
The old folk are disappointed they have not yet rubbed shoulders with anyone other than themselves, let alone the famous. They decide their conversation should include topics dear to the heart of celebrities, so they practice discussing the trials and tribulation of cosmetic surgery [15 Chorus song: A little operation (tango version) - view an extract of the score, listen to an extract].
Meanwhile, it seems that one of the old folk, Mrs Cousins, has broken ranks and told her son, Adrian what’s been happening. He appears with his extended family – all pretending to visit ‘mother’ but clearly desperate to touch the famous. Mindful of Victoria’s stipulations, Valerie quickly claims that mother is going gaga and that this house, which is indeed temporary home to the old folk, is really a boarding school. It certainly isn’t a clinic for celebrities and it certainly doesn’t have any celebrities in it.
Now it is the turn of the chorus to take part in farcical goings on. First, the old folk must revert to behaving like old folk in order to convince Mr Cousins. With a slight shift of gear, they continue to discuss surgery, but this time the kind that keeps us all going by patching us up. But then, ‘Mrs Smith’ is seen to be approaching so Mr Cousins and family must be distracted whilst everyone pretends to be staff and celebrity patients again. And then Mrs Hewitt reappears. She mustn’t learn that her lovely old dears are being exploited and exposed to the corrupting modern influence of celebrity. So more panic sets in as the old folks must once again act their age. All this is done in song! [16 Chorus song: A little operation (waltz version) - read the lyrics, listen to an extract].
And then, as if that wasn’t enough, a jewel thief arrives . . . with some stolen, diamond-studded underwear, still being worn by a mannequin. It turns out that one of the old folk, Iris, isn’t as gaga as she seems. She’s been using the old people’s home as a cover for her jewellery fencing business. In a G&S-style patter song, she tries to explain-away her unusual occupation by citing her traumatic upbringing [17 Solo for Iris: A rotter like me - read the lyrics, listen to an extract]. [listen to the optional encore - the Rotter Rap]
Everything comes to a head in the rip-roaring finale when happy endings and plot resolutions come thick and fast . . . all set to music! [18-20 Chorus, solos, duets and ensembles: Finale (parts I, II and III) - listen to an extract].