Big screen evacuation musical sends islanders home happy

FUNDS raised from the four-night run of locally-produced feature film A La Perchoine will be heading to Moldova to support child refugees from Ukraine – in a parallel to the focus of the local musical, the evacuation of children and families from Guernsey in June 1940.

Left to right, A La Perchoine’s director Elliott Cockett, composer and lyricist Martin Cordall and producer Tim Langlois. (30952718)
Left to right, A La Perchoine’s director Elliott Cockett, composer and lyricist Martin Cordall and producer Tim Langlois. (30952718)

On its opening night on Monday alone a retiring collection raised £2,000 from a sell-out audience of more than 1,000 people, watching on what is said to be the largest cinema screen ever used in the island in the Sir John Loveridge.

Reaction from audience and the people behind the film has been universally positive.

‘It’s a very emotional experience,’ said composer and lyricist Martin Cordall, who co-wrote the original stage version with the late John Loaring.

‘I’m not sure I’ve come to terms with it yet. I saw it for the first time in its entirety on Saturday and I had tears running down my face and tonight it’s been the same.

‘It’s the culmination of a heck of a lot of work by a lot of people and it’s an absolute privilege to be able to have my work put on the screen in this way.’

First-time director Elliott Cockett described the reception for the film as ‘mega’ and said he would remember the experience of making the film for a long time.

‘You always expect some sort of clap from someone in the audience but that was a proper big applause,’ he said.

‘Words can’t really describe it and just seeing it up on that big screen was amazing.’

Producer Tim Langlois’ response to the premiere was ‘Oh, what a relief’ was echoing a line from the musical.

It’s been a tough couple of years,’ he said.

‘We’ve been through Covid, children being sick, bad weather during the shooting schedule, but I knew that we could do this.

‘I knew it could be amazing but it’s gone far past my expectations and I think we have something that Guernsey can be so, so proud of.’

Actor Laura Simpson played the part of May Le Page in the 1995 stage production and played that character’s mother in the film.

‘I don’t quite know where that time has gone,’ she said, ‘but it’s just been such an amazing experience.

‘We always punch above our weight in Guernsey, in terms of the arts, and I think this is another testament to how thriving the arts scene is over here.’

Auditions were held in 2019 for a new stage production, after the musical was previously staged in 1990 and 1995. However, due to Covid this production was postponed, and then cancelled in favour of a screen version.

The screening date was the 82nd anniversary of the fateful day when the Guernsey Press headline was ‘Evacuation of Children’.

A short film was also shown on the evening featuring some islanders who lived through the evacuation.

It will be included as an extra feature on a forthcoming DVD of the movie.

n The final showing is tonight at Beau Sejour at 7pm. Tickets are £7 or £5 and can be bought via guernseytickets.gg.

n A review of A La Perchoine will feature in Saturday’s paper.

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