By Martin Roche
Music by Ian Crabtree
Director Emily Killeen
MD Allan Fouracre
Set in 1612, it is just seven years after the Gunpowder plot, James 1st is on the throne. He and his Privy Council are governing a country that has many problems. The relatively recently established protestant religion still fears the Catholic faith, and suppression of that faith is the order of the day. Thrown into this mix is the power of superstition, and the many factions trying to gain favour with the King. It is against this background that the Witchfinder story is set.
James 1st is obsessed by demonology, he even wrote a book about it. He is also fearful of those who do not practice the Protestant faith.
In the North of England there is trouble, a magistrate by the name of Roger Nowell requests help from the King to investigate accusations of Witchcraft and covert religious worship in the village of Pendle in Lancashire.
The King sends his men under the leadership of James Roberts, a young captain in the army. He is accompanied by his friend, a Lieutenant by the name of Edward Sykes. Heading to Pendle in Lancashire, James leaves behind his fiancee, Lady Sarah Owen, not realising that this no routine journey. It’s consequences will change his life for ever.
Nowell looks to incriminate people based on hearsay and rumour. James sees the injustice in what is happening and is soon in conflict with his duty.
During and following the production of this Musical there has been a tremendous response from our audiences.
The power of the story, which is based on historical fact and embellished with a love story to make the emotions seem real, has left people really engaged in the show.
The beautiful songs, the soaring choruses and the superb orchestration has added to the whole effect and has heightened the tensions and feelings. The cast too felt the same way as they gave their performances every night.
An imaginative set, excellent lighting and sound also added to the overall effect of the story.
In some ways we were surprised how this production got to us all, and at the end of the production there was a great sense of satisfaction that we had all been involved with something very special.
Martin Roche came to one of the performances and he confirmed that, though the first presentation of this work was in 2009, it has not been performed by many companies either amateur of professional.
CODS members all feel this is a great shame and would recommend it to other societies without any hesitation. There are a good number of named parts both large and small. The music is a joy to sing, with excellent solos and spine tingling choruses. It is a show with some gravitas, one could hardly make light of the subject matter, but there is humour there too and somehow an uplifting and hopeful ending.