**PRESS RELEASE** - A story of box office success for Dartford theatre group

March 31, 2018

<p class="font_8">One of the most well-known and beloved shows in musical theatre will be making its way to town this spring as Dartford Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society (DAODS) brings West Side Story to Dartford’s Orchard Theatre.</p>

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<p class="font_8">As an updated version of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story stunned audiences when it opened on Broadway in 1957 with its vivid mixing of drama, daring choreography and latin inspired score from Leonard Bernstein. The show tells the story of Tony and Maria and their quest to find happiness together amid the turmoil of gang war between the Jets and the Sharks. Many of the show’s songs have passed into the popular canon; songs like ‘America’, ‘Tonight’ and ‘I feel pretty’ will already be familiar to many audience members.</p>

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<p class="font_8">The Society has been rehearsing towards the April performances since October, with a cast of over 50 local performers meeting twice a week at their headquarters, Heathfields Hall in Dartford. ‘It’s been a huge undertaking’, explains the show’s Director Alex Freeman. ‘We have a great mixture of long-standing and brand new society members in the show and they have gelled together really well. In particular we have worked hard on the many dance sequences that the show is famous for and we’re looking forward to seeing everything come together in the last few weeks of rehearsal’.</p>

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<p class="font_8">One area where this show has already been a triumph for the Society is at the box office where they have seen ticket sales outpace all their previous productions of the past 8 years. They are hoping that this success will not be a one-off, as Chairman Paul Farlie explains. ‘We have been working hard at marketing, not just individual shows but the Society as a whole, for a number of years. It has been great to see that this show has already been so popular with the public, the last time we saw tickets selling this fast was in 2010 for our production of The Wizard of Oz, but there is a chance that we will surpass even that total.’</p>

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<p class="font_8">This show will be followed by the toe-tapping Irving Berlin classic Top Hat, which will again be performed at the Orchard Theatre in October 2018. The Society is always looking for new talent, both on and off-stage, and anyone who is interested in getting involved should email daodscom@gmail.com.</p>

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<p class="font_8">·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; West Side Story is being performed from 18th – 21st April at the Orchard Theatre, Dartford. Tickets: 01322 220000 or www.orchardtheatre.co.uk</p>

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<p class="font_8">For more information on this release or DAODS, email patwalsh100@hotmail.co.uk or call 07984 863642.</p>

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<p class="font_8"><span style="font-weight:bold;">Editor’s notes:</span></p>

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<p class="font_8">·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; DAODS was formed in 1906 when three residents decided to form a local operatic society to offset ‘the perceived lack of facilities for entertainment’ in Dartford. A newspaper advert sought ‘gentlemen and young ladies with good voices and good figures’. The group’s first show, performed in Conservative Hall in Spital Street, was The Mikado in April 1907</p>

<p class="font_8">·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Comprising a large cross-section of the community from Dartford and beyond, DAODS’ members range from the youth group, which starts at nine years old, to the group’s oldest member, aged 70-plus. The society has more than 170 members plus a subsidiary, the Good Companions Singing Group, which visits local organisations such as nursing homes</p>

<p class="font_8">·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Former DAODS stars, including Lara Pulver and Rebecca Thornhill, have won Olivier Awards and appeared on primetime television and the West End (Pulver – Gypsy/Sherlock; Thornhill - From Here To Eternity/Chicago)</p>

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<p class="font_8">&nbsp;ends.</p>