'Cheese puns galore, from Camembert to Stinking Bishop': Beth Burrows on the Gershwins' Strike Up the Band

10 Mar
Posted in: Features Interviews
Author: Staff
Beth Burrows

A musical about going to war over cheese? The puns just write themselves and the cast have had no end of fun with them, says STRIKE UP THE BAND's Beth Burrows. But which is her favourite Gershwin song? (And have you entered our competition yet?)

Written with George S Kaufman in 1927, the original script for Strike Up The Band was rewritten by Morrie Ryskind in 1930. This production presents the original, with the dark satire on America’s war-mongering over a trade deal re-established.

In 1927, Horace J Fletcher is a typical self-made American businessman. His cheese factory dominates the market, he influences the White House, and he’s secured his business future by agreeing to marry his daughter, Joan, to his factory manager. He does have one problem. Switzerland has the audacity to protest America’s heavy new tariff on imported cheese.

Fletcher convinces the US government to declare war, backing it with his bucks. Jim Townsend, a newspaperman, suspects all may not be wholesome, but he and Joan fall for each other. Will making the world safe for American cheese be more than just a walk in the Alps?

Strike Up the Band runs from 6 to 31 March 2019 at Upstairs at the Gatehouse, Highgate Village, London N6 4BD, with performances Tuesdays to Saturdays at 7.30pm and Sundays at 4pm. Tickets are priced £16-£20. Phone 020 8340 3488 or CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE!

Talking to... Beth Burrows

After success with Sirens of the Silver Screen (which had its UK premiere at the Gatehouse) and The Lady with the Dog, Beth Burrows reunites with director-producer Mark Giesser for Strike Up The Band. Her other recent stage credits include Looking for Gatsby, 35mm: A Musical Exhibition, Curtain Up, The Mystery of Edwin Drood and Time and the Conways

Tell us about your character in Strike Up the Band.

I play Joan Fletcher. She’s the daughter of Horace (played by Richard Emerson), the owner of Fletcher’s Cheese. She’s a bit of a spitfire to begin with but ends up rather unexpectedly falling in love with Jim (Paul Biggins), a character she loathes at the start. When war kicks off, Joan is torn between duty to her father and the man she loves (which happens to be one of the gorgeous, iconic Gershwin songs I get to sing!).

Why should people come to see the show?

This is the first production of the musical in the UK for a long, long time... in fact, I think we might be the professional UK premiere! It’s such a brilliant, bonkers show - the idea of going to war over cheese is ridiculous, but in today’s political climate perhaps not so far-fetched… 

What's the funniest thing that happened in rehearsals?

I mean cheese puns galore - I think we’ve covered everything from Camembert to Stinking Bishop at this point! 

What's your favourite Gershwin song & why?

I adore S’wonderful from Funny Face with Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire. In Strike Up The Band, I really like Homeward Bound, particularly as, in our production, there’s a lovely, nostalgic projection that accompanies it.

Enter to win by 11 March

Tell us your favourite Gershwin song and you could win one of five pairs of tickets to Strike Up The Band. Deadline for entry is 11am on Monday 11 March 2019.