"Due to the sudden and unavoidable withdrawal from the show by a leading member of the company, it is with regret and sincere apologies that we have had to make the difficult decision of cancelling the performances of Betty Blue Eyes at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, from May 22 to 25. 

"We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience this may cause and want to thank you for your continuing support of York Musical Theatre Company. Any pre-booked tickets will be fully refunded and you will be contacted by the theatre; please bear with us in this process. If you have any queries regarding your tickets, please contact the box office on 01904 501935."

ALAN Park and Sandy Nicholson may be making their York Musical Theatre Company debuts in Betty Blue Eyes from Wednesday but they are anything but stage novices.

Alan was a professional actor for 10 years before a career change and move from London to York; Sandy is a stalwart of the York theatre scene.

“I’ve never done a YMTC show before because really it’s only in the past few years that they’ve opened up auditions, but someone from the committee texted me to say, ‘why don’t you come to the first meeting for Betty Blue Eyes?’,” says Sandy.

She will play Mother Dear, “the Liz Smith role” in A Private Function, the Alan Bennett and Malcolm Mowbray film that has been transformed into a musical by American duo Ron Cowen and Daniel Lipman with polished and witty songs by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, the duo behind Honk!.

The setting is 1947 when, having won the war, Britain seems to have lost the peace, and the country is staggering under the burden of acute rationing, unemployment, and the coldest winter for decades. The only bright spark on the horizon is the impending marriage of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip.

In a small Yorkshire town, Betty, an adorable pig, is being illegally reared to ensure the town dignitaries can celebrate the royal nuptials with a lavish banquet while the locals must make do with Spam.

“I was already doing The Sound Of Music for York Stage Musicals but I’ve been able to combine music rehearsals for Betty Blue Eyes with doing the YSM performances and then returning to rehearsals once the show was on the floor,” says Sandy.

Alan, originally from Newcastle, had “had enough of London” when he and his wife, Anna, from Nun Monkton, near York, decided to move to York, where he had performed in Pilot Theatre’s second production of Lord Of The Flies at the Theatre Royal. “That’s when I met Anna, as she was the stage manager, “ he recalls.

He decided to stop acting “because you have responsibilities as you grow older, and so I got a job as a civil servant at Peasholme Green and I didn’t really miss the acting, but what I did miss was being in the rehearsal room,” he says.

Tartuffe for Northumberland Theatre Company in 2012 was his last production but now the seven-year itch has struck. Drawn to the stage once more, the chance to attend YMTC’s informal sessions with pianist John Atkins before the formal auditions was the ideal re-introduction for Alan.

“We met for two weeks to sing the songs and get to know each other, and it was at that point they said, ‘right, let’s do the auditions,” he recalls.

Alan did not consider himself to be a musical actor by preference, but has found himself feeling totally at home in Betty Blue Eyes, playing mild-mannered chiropodist Gilbert Chilvers. “It’s a very clever musical, both lyrically and musically, with the seeds sewn through the show producing such wonderful results,” he says.

York Musical Theatre Company in Betty Blue Eyes, May 22 to 25, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Saturday matinee. Box office: 01904 501935 or at SHOW NOW CANCELLED