rainbow beach

Joseph in cabin scene

rainbow beach
Monthly musings on recent music and drama events by John Croft - Salford Theatre Critic
I went to the Salford Arts Theatre on Liverpool Street, Salford on the 20th of October to see a production of The Johnson's Story by the Rainbow Beach Company. The lights went down to show a young black American news reporter sat at a desk. Jack played by Dwayne Scantlebury a reporter on the Chicago Defender newspaper who was explaining the play and the plight of the Johnson family, in Clarkesdale, Mississippi.
I was quickly hooked by the narrative. The next scene was a musical number using various techniques of soul, jazz and gospel music used to tremendous effect sang by Nanette and Speedy who blended together perfectly and underpinned the performance, they reminded me of Vanessa Williams and Aretha Franklin.
The male tenor Andy Mitchell lent his voice well to Russ Courtenay's musical score. The whole cast gave a singing, dancing and marching performance and put across a very clear picture of what it must have been like to live in "Black" America from the 1940's to the 1970's a time when over four million black people migrated north in the hope of a better life. A tale of triumph over adversity and hope over despair.
Introducing Terence Anderson as lead character Elias Johnson, I heartily recommend this production to everybody, the acting is top notch and the play just flies past, a thoroughly enjoyable evening and congratulations to the cast.


New poem by Russ Courtenay - read by Terence Anderson

An eleven track CD of the music & poetry created during the 2009 Rainbow Beach libraries tour is now available to hear in all
seventy seven Lancashire Library reference sections. The team would like to say a huge thank you
and congratulaions for your wonderful contributions

Russ and Del are currently working on the Rainbow Beach album
Three new Rainbow Beach videos on YouTube

Del Afrique was interviewed by 'Gilly' between 2pm and 3pm and sang live on BBC Radio Lancashire on Martin Luther King's birthday
Friday the 15th of January 2010. She was joined by Abdul Kheratkar a Lancashire Library and Information Service manager,
Hina Gohil one of the Learning Revolution project funders and County Councillor Mike Otter. She also recieved email messages and comments from members of the general public that took part in the workshops to pass onto Gilly


The Johnson's story


Lennie Varvarides
Karlina Grace
Terence Anderson
Minyahil K Giorgis
Amie Buhari

2009 Black History Month
First Act - Rainbow Beach Tour

Music, Drama,and Poetry performance/workshops

"A huge thank you to Lancashire Library Services, namely Gill, Abdul,Linda,Carole and Amaan and our sponsor the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council.We are thrilled with the feedback from the tour and thank everyone involved including all
the library managers and assistants"
Russ & Del - Founder & Artistic Director

Gill Irvine - Lancashire Library Services Manager
"Thought provoking and inspirational.Fantastic performance
and workshop all round

Terence Anderson playing Elias and Ezra
"Reading about history is one thing; watching history through documentaries is another; however Rainbow Beach brings life to what you read and see. The characters are full of life and show the plight of a people in vivid colour. Being a part of Rainbow Beach keeps fresh in our minds the journey
many have given their lives for

Karlina Grace playing Safra and Desmy

" Keeping the past alive is what we know as history. Rainbow Beach is history"

Minyahil.K.Giorgis playing Denzil and Jack

"Rainbow Beach has such a great message which is wrapped in this wonderful story of the Johnson's family and I think it is important for people to get a chance to watch it and then discuss their views and their understanding of the message".

Lennie Varvarides playing Eleanor

"Rainbow Beach is a poetic story that deserves a full production so that multiple communities can experience a part of history that should never be forgotten"

Amie Buhari - narrator

" We see the legacy of Rainbow Beach evident today - in the first black president, in the success of the black man. However the struggle still goes on for all people as we search for freedom.
Rainbow Beach reminds us of this

Rainbow Beach poet Chanje Kunda

"as a passionate poet Rainbow Beach is right up my Urban Street.... I am so excited about the project."

Tour photography by Minyahil K Giorgis
"excellent performance & inspiring" Margaret Ogunlokun

"a true blessing and thought provoking" Sue Morris

"sounded really professional, really good job" Allan Ribby

"fantastic" Khadim Momin..."poetry was very powerful & inspirational" Poppy Khanom NDC
"a wonderful all round performance" Naveed Aziz - Oldham Library

"we need more of this" councilor Ken Brown
"please come back again" Lucy Belanger

"absolutely fabulous" Larin Welsh

"enjoyable and enlightening, come back soon"

staff comments
"very moving, excellent way to educate"... "excellent learning tool for students"

inmate comments
"magnificent".... "inspiring" ... "very good, enjoyed"

"stories brought to life, excellent acting and singing" Lynne Colbourne
"we enjoyed the poetry and the performance" David and Susan Pearce

Peter Evans National Football Museum Preston
" looks really good – great to be part of it"

"it was a fantastic piece of work"!!! Fariha Malik

"Inspirational.Entertaining way of bringing past and present matters to light" K.Khanum
"physical drama, music excellent" Joan Williamson

"excellent & thought provoking" county councilor Mike Otter

Anne Tetlow Bolton Community College 21-10-09
"The college is committed to equality and diversity and positively encourages any activities which raise awareness of different cultural backgrounds. The performance by rainbow beach marked black history month and raised both learner and customer awareness as well as providing great entertainment".
audience comments
"very enjoyable", "lovely evening", "must invite you back"

GARTH PRISON 12th &16-10-09
Inmate Comments
" Yeah the session is great it unites all people black, white, old, young. It gives us something to call our own and the Rainbow group are very helpful.... I take this to thank everyone".
" The whole thing was full of passion. It would be good to do it again and again
to fill the void within the young
"This was a very good experience and I would like this type of work
to be done more often

Del is interviewed on BBC Radio Lancashire by 'Gilly' 14-10-09

Del is interviewed on Bolton FM by Mat McManus 13-10-09
songs played
The Peoples King & Rainbow Beach

A huge thank you to all these Lancashire and West Lancashire District and County councillors for their support
Mike Otter
Jennifer Mein
Maggie Skilling
Keith Young
Mark Jewell
Kevin Ellard
Terry Aldridge
Ken Brown
David O'Toole

photography Andrew Macpherson

Songwriter Russ Courtenay from the Rainbow Beach team has a track on Tina Turner's latest album release 'TINA The Platinum Collection' to coincide with her 2009 European tour.
Dates include :
London O2 Arena
Sheffield Arena
Dublin O2
Manchester MEN Arena
Birmingham Arena

 Full Rainbow Beach performance at the Hexagon...SOLD OUT

photography Giles Willis

The Johnson's Story
rehearsed reading
in celebration of Martin Luther Kings birthday

Visitor Book Comments
"good value"
"terrific singers"
"great acting and brilliant music"
"brilliant vocals"
"amazing would love a CD"

"excellent and very memorable show"
"fantastic show"
"really enjoyed everything"
"nice singing good accents"


Nanette & Russ
One Voice
The Team

Tuesday 13th of January Morecambe Library
performance of Rainbow Beach

Act 1 of the Johnson's story
"we felt honoured to meet some of the groups that regularly visit the library and were very touched and moved by their overwhelming reaction to our work, so thank you for your support and for taking the time to come out and see us perform" - Del
"I thought the event was really excellent. Having spoken to those from that Tuesday and others who attended on the Thursday night, I know the 'show' had a real impact"
Linda Robinson

Rainbow Beach
The Johnson's Story Radio Play

to be broadcast on Preston FM
Tuesday the 27th of January 2009
at 8-10 pm (also streaming online)



Rainbow Beach activities at the Lancaster & Morecambe college from Tuesday the 6th to Thurdsady the 15th of January
Auditioning process
Director's Workshop
Marketing Strategies to include posters, flyers,programme content, advertising,
Vocal Anatomy and Warm up
Music and Theatre Business Open Forum
Staging for Crowd Scenes Banner Making and Characterisation

  "We found it to be a very exciting and invaluable experience, from which we learned a great deal, and will remember for a very long time." Mike Ferguson   "Thanks again for the production. A few members of staff went on the night and said it was excellent, which it was! Also the teaching staff and students for performing arts have asked me to pass on their sincere thanks to you and all the people involved. I really wish we could get more things like this at the college". Paul Ineson

Frank De Molfetta

Albert Thornton
Kevin Ellard
Rainbow Beach would like to thank the following councellors Tom Burns, Frank De Molfetta, Yakub Patel, Kevin Ellard and Albert Thornton for their support in January 2009 for the serialisation of Rainbow Beach on Preston FM and the full production of the show at the Lancaster and Morecambe College in support of students and vulnerable groups at Morecambe library.

Midland Hotel showcase/taster day comments
“Thank you it was brill!”
“Very interesting Well Done”
“Very good indeed it was most enjoyable”
“Brilliant project. Brilliantly performed”
“Absolutely brilliant”
“Can’t wait to see the full production. Excellent!”
“Thoroughly enjoyable Exciting Good Luck”
“Wonderful actors and singers. Enjoyed greatly”
“Great afternoon. Enjoyable”
“Fantastic showcase. Good luck with everything”


Serialisation of Rainbow Beach musical play on Preston FM Community Radio

15th January full performance at the Hexagon Theatre in Morecambe (for advance tickets please send contact details via feedback form) to include the One Voice Community choir.

Lancaster and Morecambe College workshops and Master Classes for Performing Arts students
Jan 12th-16th.

January the 12th – 17th Morecambe Library exhibition. First Act performance on Tuesday the 13th featuring the Rainbow Beach team of professionals in the accoustic room at lunchtimes

Rainbow Beach showcase at the Midland a resounding success.

Existing and Potential partner comments

“Brilliant showcase can’t wait to be part of it” – Rachel Bond One Voice choir founder.
“Great singer, great songs would love to work together - Ruth Davies Global Link
“Thank you” Christine Burn Lunchbox Theatre Company
“Amazing in true Russ and Nanette style” Tracy Kohl West End Impact

January 2009 Cast comments

Nicola Gardner
I'm absolutely delighted! I've been walking on air since I found out, thank you so much for choosing me.

Dermot Daly
"From the outset I was interested in this project solely because it was different. For a new project to have such a professional web presence showcasing the heart warming/breaking songs is something new. As an actor I always tend to seek out projects that inspire, inform and educate me and hopefully, then through performance that inspiration and verve will be passed on to the audience.
Theatre through the ages has, primarily been produced to entertain, but great theatre, I think, goes beyond that and seeks to challenge notions that are held to be true, hold a candle up to the world in which we inhabit and allow something new to be seen; I sincerely think that this project is one that will fulfil that criteria. Nanette, Russ and Hugo are lovely people to interact with, with enough creative drive to allow Rainbow Beach to sail to whichever shore it chooses to take"

Sojourner Sebela
Thank you for taking me on board to work on this ace character and brilliant project about the highs and lows of people. I'm looking forward to working with you all.

Suzanne Roche
“It blew me away. I can’t wait to be part of it!” Suzanne Roche

One Voice Choir comments

“What an amazing project to be involved in. Rainbow Beach not only has
beautiful, powerful songs but the context of the play is extremely moving. I
for one am honoured and proud to be involved in this project. Thanks so much
for the opportunity!!” - Debbie Jones

“….The Rainbow Beach experience gives us a marvelous opportunity to give back
to the community and to make a difference”. - Kath Litherland

“Projects like these are vital in ensuring that the American civil
rights story is embedded in history. These events occurred in what is
now the last century, and its important to ensure we retell the stories
to our children so that they can recognise and hold guard against
intolerance and prejudice. One Voice Community choir sing a lot of
Gospel and R&B based music. Whilst we have our own style, our songs are
often deeply rooted in the struggles of those times, and in the
earlier spirituals. For me, there’s a sense of knowing that even though the songs were
conceived in troubled hearts and minds, they were born into a world
where we always strive to hope, to dream and to pray. Rainbow Beach
does that, and it fits in beautifully with our choir because that's our
message too, every time we sing." Julian Andrews

“…I am lucky enough to have been involved in some amazing events with One Voice and now cannot wait to take part in Rainbow Beach and perform in a musical, I just hope I can hold back the emotion to sing my heart out!” Louise Hogg

New Developments

Preston FM Chat City interview about Rainbow Beach as part of Black History Month

Lancaster fund raising concert to be announced soon. Please fill in the feed back form if you would like to attend and contribute financially

April... return to BBC Radio Lancashire for John Gillmore's show to sing live and be interviewed

Education Action Week

Intimate Evening performance at BBC Radio Lancashire theatre studio


15th Filmed performance of Rainbow Beach songs at County Hall Preston for Documentary

Press coverage Lancaster Visitor 15th of October

Live performance of two Rainbow Beach songs featuring Nanette Welmans and Steven Wren on vocals on BBC Radio Lancaster, plus an interview with John Gillmore... 14th October

2nd round of auditions 11th October one more cast member found

Successful 1st round of auditions... 4 cast members found for January 15th launch of Rainbow Beach to celebrate Martin Luther King's birthday

Documentary film now started following the progress of the Scriptwriter, Songwriter, Director, Actors, Musicians and Singers

Press coverage in the Citizen on Thursday 8th October

Showcase taster at the Midland Hotel Morecambe - Monday October 20th.

Exhibition in Lancaster Central Library from October 20th - 31st

Rainbow Beach Concert at a Lancaster HMS Prison October 21st

Concert for the homeless in Lancaster at the Arc on the 24th

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