Above: The full company in the grand finale from West End Story.

A trip through the history of operetta and musicals combined melody with merriment for a packed audience in The Henfield Hall. 

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Starting with highlights from Gilbert and Sullivan's Mikado, the classic 'Lord High Executioner' was thoroughly updated by local man Chris Whitehead to put Brexit "on the list", a theme picked up later by the Gendarmes who wore it on their hats!

Right: Tim Anscombe and Ian Belsey as the Brexited Gendarmes

Above: The ladies chorus in the Mikado

Top international singers Sylvia Clarke and Ian Belsey gave their time freely to lead the entertainment, as did Worthing professional Jan Spooner Swabey and Henfield's own Sue Burchett. Local singers also provided the chorus line and some fine individual performances. 

The music ranged from the sublime 'Only Make Believe', romantic 'In his Eyes' and melancholy 'Love for Sale' to some hysterically funny songs. Sue Burchett's memorable performance of Sondheim's 'The Boy From' was truly hilarious and the Spamalot duet 'The Song that Goes like This' by Helen Fyles and Ian Henham had the audience roaring with laughter. 

The musical journey even held a peek into the future with a beautiful song from the exciting new show 'Oh Mr Rasputin' which opens in Guildford next year.

The concert would never have happened without the very generous offer by profesional show producer and tenor Tim Anscombe to stage a musical event in aid of the Haven. Henfield-boy Tim worked tirelessly to put together a most enjoyable programme - the happy and smiling faces as people left the concert said it all.

Tim Anscombe (left), who opened the concert singing 'A Wand'ring Minstrel'

International singer Sylvia Clarke and local man Chris Whitehead (above) leading the laughter with 'Beauty in the Bellow of the Blast'.

Tim said “My special thanks must go to musical director Robert Orledge who has worked with me side by side from day one, and with the support of Jane Haines from Henfield Theatre Company we managed to put together a programme that I hope has been popular and has given everyone the opportunity to shine.

“As well as our singers, we also have to thank all those behind the scenes:  Lorette and her staff at the Haven, the workshop team from Henfield Theatre Company, Martin Love for the publicity, Bryan and Mark who loaned us technical kit to allow us to put together some quality lighting and sound, Adrian at Rushfields for the plants on stage, the box office outlets for selling the tickets, Doubledot for printing the roadside boards, our sponsors Coles and all the wonderful people who have worked so hard to get this show on since my first conversation over a coffee with Steve and Karyn Bailey in the Haven café nearly 12 months ago just after the Haven had opened.

“I hope that this is the first of many fund raising events that may follow in order to keep the Haven running with the success that it has seen in its first year.”

At the end of the show, promoter Digby Stephenson announced that Tim is to be made an Honorary Patron of the Haven as a small ‘thank you' for all that he has done. We plan to mount a board showing the names of patrons in the entrance of the building. 

Digby then introduced the encore that the audience so clearly desired. 

He explained that, in a dream, it occurred to Tim that however tough life becomes, whatever challenges it throws at you, so long as communities such as ours can work together to save, relaunch and sustain the Henfield Haven then, "You'll Never Walk Alone".

A stirring rendition of this Rodgers and Hammerstein classic, from "Carousel", then closed the Show. 

See our gallery for more pictures of the concert