Octoganerian Bob Downing is currently living a long-held dream. Bob, 82, is deep into rehearsals for Scrooge the Musical in which he takes the lead role of Ebenezer - something he has wanted to do for many years. “It's a wonderful part to play,” he said.
I really don’t know what all the fuss is about - I think I’m in my prime.Bob Downing
“The songs are a joy to sing and, without spoiling the story, there's a happy ending that is full to the brim with the spirit of Christmas.” Bob now has just over a month to become word and song perfect - a big ask for anyone of any age - as the show opens at the Spotlight in early December. Taking on the role of Scrooge at 82 is no mean feat. The character is on stage for most of the two hour-plus show and has 12 featured songs – as well as numerous songs with the full company. But with a script as a constant companion and a CD never far away, Bob is coping admirably.
Director Pauline Pope is also going the extra mile for the star of her show with one-to-one rehearsal time planned in addition to the twice-weekly full cast rehearsals. One of the founder members on the volunteer-run venue on West Street, Bridlington, Bob has been treading the boards there since it opened its doors in 2000.
And before the group had a permanent home, Bob performed at venues around the town, including The Spa. He quickly established himself as one of the cast regulars after joining Bridlington Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society in 1979.
In his younger days he played several leading roles including the King in The King and I. Bob claims this role will be his swansong but after a lifetime’s involvement with amateur theatre he could still have years of acting ahead.
On the professional stage, Sir Michael Horden played his final role at 83.
Sir John Guilgud did even better. He played his last lead role at the grand old age of 86 and he continued to make cameo appearances for several years after that. Bob added: “I really don't know what all the fuss is about.
“I think I'm in my prime.”