Dolly Mixtures looking forward to new celebration show

The original Dolly Mixtures are looking forward to seeing the smash-hit play based on their pioneering fundraising efforts return to the stage.

Monday, 17th June 2019, 4:00 pm
Updated Monday, 17th June 2019, 9:01 pm
The Dolly Mixtures, from left, Betty Dickinson, Hilda Joyce, Doris Ashcroft and Margaret Fleck with playwright Tom Kelly.

The Dolly Mixtures, written by Jarrow playwrite Tom Kelly, with music by John Miles, debuted at The Customs House in August 2016 to a rapturous reception and widespread critical acclaim.

The play tells the story of eight ordinary women from South Tyneside, who broke the showbiz mould to raise money for Cancer Research UK in the 1970s and 1980s – touring the region’s male-dominated social clubs with their variety show for over 14 years, raising laughs and £100,000 in the process.

Five of the original women remain – Doris Ashcroft, 79, Margaret Fleck, 77, Hilda Joyce, 84, Betty Dickinson, 74, and Sylvia Nichols, 72.

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The Dolly Mixtures celebrate their Lifetime Achievement award from Cancer Research UK

Jean Smith, Joan Lumsdale and Liz Errington – sadly died before their remarkable story was turned into a musical.

The Dolly Mixtures is being revived as part of The Customs House’s 25th anniversary celebrations and will run from Wednesday, August 21 to Saturday, August 31.

Betty said: “I think we were all hoping that it would be brought back.”

Margaret added: “It’s testament to how good it was first time around. It was joyous and amazing.”

The women were inspired to raise money for cancer research after Margaret’s husband and Hilda’s brother, Ken, died from bowel cancer, aged just 34.

The women juggled their commitments as The Dolly Mixtures with work and family life. The show is littered with anecdotes and skits based on real-life events and the challenges the group came up against.

Doris said: “Every scenario in the play is true. We had some amazing times.”

The women are looking forward to again working with West End star Mina Anwar, who will direct and choreograph the latest production, having been assistant director and choreographer for the original run.

Collections will be held after each performance for Cancer Research UK.

During the original production, Cancer Research UK presented The Dolly Mixtures with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Tickets for The Dolly Mixtures are priced from £16 from the Customs House box office and performances start at 7.30pm, with a 2.30pm matinee on Thursday, August 22, Saturday, August 24, Thursday, August 29 and Saturday, August 31.