Hear from one of our lifetime members, Cathy Robinson, about what it means to be part of our family
Once upon a time, there was a young(ish) girl who, having stepped out of her comfort zone, decided to see whether any local theatre companies were looking for new members. She joined Star Now. She saw an advert for J Williams Productions. She filled in an application form. She auditioned. She got in…and her life changed forever. I’ll be forever grateful for the opportunities afforded to me by Williams Creatives.
I still remember that audition day in a Working Men’s Club in Syston. I was so nervous as I climbed those stairs on a cold and wet Sunday morning but then relief as I saw Creative Director Sharon Brown, a friendly and familiar face. “Don’t worry” we were told. “It’s nothing too difficult. Just sing your two prepared songs and a short dance audition”. And then they brought out the chairs…! The short dance audition turned out to be a sexy chair dance! Horror! But I gave a fair comic performance giving my best pout and body rolls (whilst petrified I’d break a hip if I fell off that chair). And the rest, as they say, is history.
Our first production, Miscast: The Musical Cabaret was a huge challenge for me – I didn’t really have the confidence or stage presence and preferred the back line to the limelight. It was during my solo performance of “Bring him Home” that I discovered my expert ability to conduct myself with my ever-moving right hand – something that I’m still so conscious of! I lacked so much confidence that when the mic I was singing into for “Sunset Boulevard” covered my face, I didn’t even have the courage to step to the side – my spot was behind the mic and I was staying there! The ensemble numbers were my absolute favourite and I just loved “Cell Block Tango”. Although, I’ll thank you never mention “America” from West Side Story in my presence!
After a short break, including the first ever West End Nights, Broadway Lights, I was back, bringing along new members for the ride. Oliver’s Twisted Christmas gave me my first opportunity to play Nancy although Josh stole “As long As He Needs Me”! This seminal belt was sung by Bill Sykes who was visited by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come – this was definitely a Twisted Tale. Miscast At The Movies followed and was utter chaos but it is to this day my favourite Williams show. Creative Director, Josh Williams, really put his faith in me and thrust me into some weird and wonderful positions, including standing and singing in a moving shopping trolley! Talking to Josh the other day, he asked me “what is it with you and Miscast At The Movies?” It took me a second before I answered, “it’s where you found my confidence”.
We were so lucky…a week after this production, the country closed down due to Covid…but that didn’t stop Williams Creatives. Miscast Making the Most of It was born as we virtually joined together to record and film songs to raise money for the NHS. We could have lost what has affectionately come to be called our amdramfam, but Josh and Sharon would not let that happen. Thank you to all for keeping our passion alive even in the loneliest of times.
And then joy of joys, theatre returned!!! And it was straight into Miscast: All Inclusive. It was my second time playing a Nancy-role for Willian’s Creatives, prompting my name in Josh’s phone to become Cathy “Nancy” Robinson. Cinderz Story came next, and I absolutely loved playing the Evil Stepmother. Have you ever tried to sing “All I Want for Christmas is You” without smiling? I challenge you to try – it’s harder than it looks.
It was at the end of one of these rehearsals that Josh asked me to direct the next big musical. “Not on your nelly,” I said. I’d had a taste of directing during the Williams Creatives two-hander Duality, and while I definitely enjoyed the experience, a 20 minute play is VERY different to a full-length original musical. But that Joshua Taylor-Williams is a force to be reckoned with, and I relented, thus entering one of the most challenging and rewarding periods of my life. I can’t describe the pride I felt watching Threads leap off the page onto the stage with such pezzazz and elegance. We had a lot of bumps in the road, but the cast came together in true Williams-style, and we put on the most amazing production. There was not a dry eye in the house…but “never again” I said. “No more directing for me”…until Trinity came along, and I find myself back in the Director’s chair for two of the three short plays, as well as acting in the third. Trinity will also mark my debut as a playwright. Me! A playwright! I never thought this would happen.
This week marks Williams Creatives 5th birthday and I can honestly say that because of this incredible group, I am definitely not the same person I was 5 years ago. This memoir is just a brief note on the life-changing journey I’ve been on. I could write so much more, but Josh told me not to write War and Peace. I’ve missed out tales of Bottomless Brunches, entering Josh secretly for the Star of Musical Con (which he obviously won), project managing West End Nights: Motown, singing carols, performing at Corby Pride and 8am bedtimes after post-show parties. Williams Creatives is special, and I know he’ll hate me for writing this, but this is down to Josh and the belief he has in every single one of us.
You know that Tina Turner song? The one that was the opener of Threads? Well Josh, that’s what you are. And you can tell me I’m cheesy all you like, but I am going to end with this…
Joshua Taylor-Willliams… YOU ARE SIMPLY THE BEST!