50 Years in Musical Theatre – A Celebration – Jeannine Ridha

logoThis weekend marks the end of a very special year in the life of Jeannine Ridha as she has celebrated an incredible 50 years performing in musical theatre.  The year was marked in a number of ways, but most specially, by a wonderful celebratory concert that took place on 29th July 2017 at the Riverhead Theatre, Louth.  I was fortunate to be part of the planning team for that event, and loved every moment planning and preparing for what turned out to be what can only be described as ‘the show of a lifetime’.

I know Jeannine has done lots this year, but I couldn’t let the year go by without my own special tribute…

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To put my friendship with Jeannine in context, we were both cast members of the Lincoln Cathedral production of Jesus Christ Superstar in 2015.  One day during rehearsal, we started chatting, made a bit of a connection and forged a bond that has developed over the past few years.

Jeannine (right) in the Cloisters with two of her friends from Grimsby

Although I saw Jeannine perform in JCS and a couple of other productions, I never really knew the extent of her musical theatre history, or her amazing talent until the first rehearsal for the 50 years in musical theatre celebratory concert where I was blown away by her characterisations.  But her professional musical performances in the show that followed on 29th July, portrayed a wonderful variety of characters including her brilliant rendition of ‘Stately as a Galleon’ a Joyce Grenfell classic; it will stand out as one of my favourites of the day!

I can’t imagine the memories Jeannine has made throughout the past 50 years and what the experiences have meant to her, so the words that I’m sharing below were written back on 20th November by Jeannine, and they really say it all…

In Jeannine’s own words…

At 7:15pm Monday 20th November 1967… the curtain opened on my very first musical The White Horse Inn with Grimsby & District Amateur Operatic Society at the ABC Theatre/Ritz Cinema Grimsby Road Cleethorpes in front of 1,450 people….
Tonight at 7:15pm Monday 20th November 2017… I’m having my photo done for the 42nd Street programme… my next musical with same group… now known as Curtain Up Productions, followed by a rehearsal… (in a church hall just few hundred yards from where ABC was… 42nd Street also to be performed on Grimsby Road at Cleethorpes Memorial Hall 8-12 Jan 2018)
To say I’m feeling very emotional is an understatement TBH…. As I look back on those 50 years & all those memories some good some bad, some happy some sad… I’m actually finding it difficult to take in that half a century has passed by…
Many of those friends I worked with who are now sadly just a memory…😥
It makes me realise how lucky I am to still be as passionate about performing at the age of 67… as I was as that 17 year old… Musical Theatre has not been my hobby it’s been my life…
So many highlights including one of my all time favourite roles Calamity Jane 1979…

Old Show Photos 68

Also, performing onstage with my own children, Emma & Haitham and now my granddaughters Molly-Mae & Tilly-Grace has been wonderful…

My 50 year celebration show/party at Louth Riverhead Theatre in July was more of a thanksgiving… that through all life’s ups ‘n downs … the one constant thing in my life has been my musical theatre and the forever friends I’ve made because of it …🥂🍾🎶🎭❤️
I feel very, very blessed & for anyone who’s ever played a part in my Musical Theatre journey… from the bottom of my heart THANK YOU & I LOVE YOU…. 😘❤️🎶🎭😘❤️🎶🎭❤️

As a young teenage girl, Jeannine made her debut in 1967 in a production of ‘White Horse Inn’ with Grimsby & Cleethorpes Amateur Operatic Society, now Curtain Up Productions.

Jeannine front left of entire company far right (black trousers) … plait over her left shoulder …. which Jeannine remembers buying in a plastic tube from Woolworths, Freeman Street .. cost her 7/6 …7 shillings and 6 old pence …less than 50p!  The actual booking form is above…  It’s interesting to look at the price of tickets 10/- (top price) equivalent of 50 pence!!!

The lead roles in her very first show were played by Jeannine’s heroes Mary Adams and Tony Blackmore who she still sees. Mary, now 91 was due to sing at Jeannine’s celebration concert in July 17 but sadly wasn’t very well on the day and so couldn’t perform.  The recording below was taken at the rehearsal for the concert a few weeks before… enjoy!

Jeannine did sing a duet from Fiddler with Tony Blackmore (now 81) at her celebration concert in July.  

Act 2 - 6 Do You Love Me? 30

A recording of Jeannine and Tony performing ‘Do you love me?’, which I’m delighted to include a link to below, to which I’ve added some photographs, was produced as a gift for Jeannine’s husband for their silver wedding anniversary…  how moving!

Over the 50 years Jeannine has performed in many productions with various amateur and professional companies.  (list below courtesy of Haitham Ridha, who edited the programme for Jeannine’s 50 year celebration in July)

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The photo below was one of the early shots, taken on the stairs at the ABC Theatre, Grimsby… during the break at dress rehearsal for My Fair Lady in Nov 1968. Her first ever lines in Musical Theatre.  Jeannine was the flower girl… and is on left on this picture.  Jeannine’s Dad took this shot….🌹🎶


Amazingly, among all the shows Jeannine has been part of over the 50 years, she has played the role of Maggie Jones in 42nd street 5 times!

To mark the end of her 50th year, Jeannine played Maggie again with Curtain Up Productions in Cleethorpes, with opening night 8th January 2018.

On that day Jeannine said…

I cannot believe that tonight .. 8th January 2018 I’m opening as Maggie Jones in 42nd Street for the 5th time … 24 years since I first played this role in 1994… Omg omg …where has that time gone??? 😳😳🎶🎭🎶🎭

1994… With GCAOS at Grimsby Icehouse


1996 .. Semi pro production Octagon Theatre Yeovil, Somerset


2005 .. With GCAOS Grimsby Auditorium


2013 … At Riverhead Theatre Louth


2018 … Curtain Up Productions..Cleethorpes Memorial Hall…


So I’m in another programme of one of my favourite roles …I guess being 2 years of 70 this might be last time I play Miss Maggie Jones….🤔🤔🤔
Am I nervous? I most certainly am… Opening Nights never get any easier

So now to the celebration show on 29th July…  What a performance, what an experience, certainly one I will never forget.

Jeannine and Haitham put together a wonderful programme, and you’ll see some excerpts of it throughout this post;  I couldn’t say it any better so in Jeannine’s own words – again – from the programme…

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As Jeannine said above, most of the friends and family in the audience actually performed on stage at some point throughout the show; (as previously noted, unfortunately Mary Adams couldn’t perform on the day but still appeared in the programme).Screen Shot 2018-02-18 at 14.01.31

Jeannine opened the show in style, as can be expected…  Here’s a recording of the opening number, ‘As if we never said goodbye’ from Sunset Boulevard; (apologies for the over exposure at the start but you get the idea!)


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Some selected photos from Act 1

First picture is Jeannine with daughter Emma singing their special song from when she was 3 and Jeannine played lead in Calamity Jane 1979… ‘Secret Love’

And Act 2


And some fun moments from pre and post show where friends and family met the 2D Jeannine

And the icing on the cake were I’m sure the wonderful messages Jeannine received from all her family and friends, and a few very special people.  I put all of the messages in a special book for Jeannine, to remind her of this wonderful celebration, and I’m sure, pride of place in the book is this message… and Jeannine receiving it!

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…and a wonderful note from the gorgeous Jodie Prenger…

50’s Year’s from NODA (National Operatic and Dramatic Association)


So thank you everyone for taking part, and to Jeannine for allowing me to be part of this absolutely incredible celebration in your 50th year…

… and just in case you forget, or other people don’t know how much you are thought of in the musical theatre world, here’s some of the messages people sent to you!

Jeannine 50 Years Messages

Here’s to the next 50 years!

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Photos and video courtesy of Lewis Harry, Daniel and Eira Hammond and Luke Harry


(and the next time you can see Jeannine will be at Riverhead theatre again on 29th March in her one woman show, ‘Sing Happy’…

Jeannine says about the show…

Hello friends ….. as most of you know I’ve been performing in Musical Theatre since 1967 …. However, on Thursday March 29th I’m coming out of my comfort zone and I’m doing a ‘one woman’ show at Louth Riverhead Theatre … I was approached a few months ago and at first (for various reasons) I said no … Eventually I said I would it…. I’m currently getting the show together and would be thrilled to see some familiar faces in the audience ❤️❤️ I’ve called the show SING HAPPY… I have two 40 minute sets to do …and then there’s a 30 minute interval for a free cuppa… I’m singing songs from musicals. Might even have some surprise guests😉😀Show starts 2:30pm…Tickets £5
Link to theatre below..


Jesus Christ Superstar – Louth Playgoers – Revew by Frances Brindle



I’m absolutely delighted that even though I’m still away in the USA I am able to publish a review for this great show via a wonderful friend from Louth Playgoers (LPG), Frances Brindle, for their current production of Jesus Christ Superstar, the Rock Opera, in Riverhead Theatre, Louth from 17th to 27th May.

Frances is usually onstage for the musicals but as well as performing for LPS she’s been Assistant Director, Producer and taken Choreographer roles.  She’s also on the marketing team and is on the Board of Directors. You can also find her smiley face in the box office from time to time!!!

Frances next  LPS project is Once Upon a Time, the summer concert on August 12th where she’s Producer and choreographer.

Over to you Fran…

Having not been involved in this years musical (an odd feeling!) I thought I’d embrace being on the other side and I’d review it.

Not being a massive fan of Jesus Christ Superstar, hence not being part of the show, I can’t say I wasn’t looking forward to the show, but my reason for going was to support the cast who have worked so hard to produce it.

And a huge amount of hard work has gone into it. I’ve heard first hand that there’s literally been blood sweat and tears, and that was just building the set! Bob Booth and his crew have produced the largest construction our stage has ever seen. With giant steps, platforms, trapdoors, and multi levels, the immense presence of it is the first thing you notice when the curtains go back. It is utilised in so many different ways, which I won’t spoil, but the cast are constantly all over this giant structure making full use of the dynamics this set has to offer.

The most striking thing about this show was that everyone on that stage was fully invested in it and committed to providing a great performance. It was lovely to see so many new faces on the stage too, I hope they’ve loved it enough to join us in the forthcoming season.

The wardrobe team must be congratulated for their efforts because you could quite happily believe you were in biblical times, which is no easy feat when you have to source clothes in a modern society. They were tasteful, suited and my favourite part was that there were so many colours on that stage but they weren’t super bright and they fitted the show perfectly. The use of scarves and shawls was an excellent addition to each costume and I’m sure it aided the cast in defining their characters.

Colours for me played an important role in this show, Pilate in purple typically an “evil” colour, Herod’s glamorous gold, and Judas in Red which is essentially an angry colour and in the scene where he’s fighting his inner demons under the red lighting and wearing a red costume absolutely took the audience on a journey of his mind set.

The lighting in the whole show was very atmospheric and the use of candles to create a hazy glow in certain scenes definitely worked for me. There’s something to be said for emotional scenes portrayed in the flicker of candlelight.

The show is full of strong voices but the trio of Jesus (Jody McCutcheon) Mary Magdalene (Evie Dodds) and Judas (Rik Hardenberg) carry the show along at a pace which tells the story beautifully yet keeps the audience on the edge of their seats, literally. Their performances are brilliant and all differently so emotive that towards the end of Act two my stomach was in knots and I still felt a bit shaky after the show. It’s intense, shocking, heart wrenching and emotional whilst still having moments of upbeat, lively fun.

The fun mostly comes from the ensemble who are the heart of this show. They never stop! They are constantly climbing up and down stairs and scaffolding, on and off the stage, and it’s their commitment to this merry dance that makes the story so believable. All whilst performing perfectly placed choreography (by Sarah Hagerup) remembering harmonies, singing and still managing to breathe!! Hats off too to Keith Weston, the Musical Director, because it takes an awful lot of work to accomplish a rock opera with no spoken lines and just pure singing, and it’s a hard sing! And a hard play for the band too who absolutely rock!

The concept of this show is still one I can’t get my head around, but a lady who has, is the Director, Sue Hamilton. She has had the enormous task of bringing this vision to reality. It has been done in such a way that not only works, but flows so much that a scene disappears before your eyes before you’ve had a chance to realise it’s gone. And it happens more than once!

For a show that I don’t like, tonight I loved it! I smiled, I clapped and I cried, it moved me so much!

So if between now and Sat 27th May you want a great night out then go and see Jesus Christ Superstar, because they’re all Superstars!


There are some tickets left and you can get them at www.louthplaygoers.com or call Box Office on 01507 600350 open 10am-1pm Monday -Saturday.

Thank you Frances for taking the time to write this great review, I’m just very disappointed that I’m unable to see this show that I know and love, and that I was part of in the Lincoln Cathedral production in both 2015 and 2016 with some of the same cast as in this particular production.

I hope that all the cast and crew have a great rest of the run, and that everyone enjoys it as much as Frances obviously did!