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Published March 11th 2020
Update March 17th 2020
The Lichfield Garrick has cancelled all shows until the end of March due to coronavirus.
Corrie star talks about new role as a miner in the 1960s
There are supposedly three certainties in life. Death and taxes are two of them, but the third is less well-known - that you will have watched actor Bill Ward in something or other on television. He has appeared in just about everything, from shows such as Casualty, Holby City, The Bill,Silent Witness and Doctors to all three main soaps. Viewers may well remember him from long-standing and high-profile roles as Charlie Stubbs in Coronation Street and James Barton in Emmerdale, but he also clocked up appearances in EastEnders at the start of his career, well two episodes to be precise, as Mike Parker, the man from the brewery! But while TV has made Bill into a household name, the theatre will always hold a special place in his heart. And theatre-goers will now get to see him in The Glee Club, Richard Cameron's celebrated play about a group of 1960s Doncaster miners preparing to perform in a local gala concert.
Bill Ward stars in The Glee Club. Photo Marc Brenner
Bill, who can be seen at the Lichfield Garrick theatre from March 24 to 28 as part of The Glee Club's UK tour, explains further about the role: "It follows six miners, in 1962 in Edlington Colliery, near Doncaster. By day they're half a mile underground, and by night they're singing close harmony and barbershop songs to unwind and amuse themselves. The play follows them as they begin to rehearse for the annual village gala, and we follow them as they face some seismic moments in their lives. I play Bant. He's a career miner and a loose cannon. He's funny, he's violent, he's a bit of a law unto himself. He's a very kind man, he's got a heart of gold, but that heart is often covered up by his temper and his willingness to get into fights and trouble of any kind." Bill, fresh out of playing Hugo in Everybody's Talking About Jamie, added: "It's very funny, with great music, but with a real emotional heart. You care for every single one of the characters in the play."
Bill (centre) alongside Glee Club co-stars Linford Johnson (left) and Kai Owen (right). Photo Marc Brenner
Being on the road with the rest of the cast, living cheek-by-jowl for months is clearly the ideal way of settling into a play about six men with bonds forged at the pit-head, who see each other as brothers. "These characters live in each other's pockets, and have done since they were 13," added Bill. "They know each other inside out. So it really does help if we all know each other very well, and we are spending a lot of time together." It could all have been very different for Bill, whose stage career has also encompassed roles in the likes of Viva Forever, Million Dollar Quartet and Spamalot in The West End, plus regional productions of Shakespeare In Love, Look Back in Anger, and The Lady From The Sea. He made the decision to turn his back on a successful career in advertising to study acting at the age of 30. "I'd only ever wanted to do two things - advertising and acting. And I'd done advertising… I didn't want to have any 'what ifs'. I can't stand them."
Corrie and Emmerdale actor Bill Ward in The Glee Club. Credit Marc Brenner
The Glee Club, presented by Out of Joint Theatre, can be seen at the Lichfield Garrick from Tuesday 24 March to Saturday 28 March. Tickets priced from £18 are available by visiting www.lichfieldgarrick.com or by calling the box office on 01543 412121. The show is deemed suitable for those aged 16 and above.