Friday, 25 March 2022
The 1946 Irving Berlin composition claimed "There's No Business Like Show Business", and one man who agrees with this is Peter Mitchell, a local expat who has directed more than 100 shows at the Salon Varietés since he first discovered the theatre in 1991.
Peter is currently getting ready for his next production, although he took time out from his busy schedule to speak with SUR in English about his life in the theatre.
Originally from Norfolk, Peter was no stranger to the theatrical world. As a child, he holds fond memories of watching musicals and shows at the local theatre, plus his mother was a leading player with a local operatic and dramatic society. By the time he was ten, Peter was well versed with the songs of the top musical shows and he would often be "roped in to perform" in local productions.
After spending two years in Germany during his national service, the aspiring young thespian headed to Cambridge, and it was at the city's ADC Theatre that Peter directed his first review - A tribute to the Master, a show that celebrated the works of Noel Coward.
After graduating, Peter headed to Weymouth, and this was to be the beginning of a career that saw him share the stage with numerous named acts, including Peters and Lee, Ruby Murray, and the Krankies.
"I received news of a Pontins hotel in Weymouth that was looking for someone who could sing and dance to appear in four different shows over a four-month period. I applied and got the part, and this was an amazing time for me," Peter explains.
He had also just received his provisional equity card from the British Actors' Equity Association, so things were looking extremely rosy for Peter.
Next came an offer to direct some shows for the Bedford Operatic Society, and this was followed by a winter season back in Weymouth.
After obtaining his full equity card, the talented director enjoyed a successful ten years directing shows on cruise ships, but his real break came when he turned his attention to television.
"I was very fortunate to work on the Black and White Minstrel Show until it became politically incorrect. Along with the television shows, we took the Minstrels on a world tour, and we had a wonderful time. Everybody loved it, but I understand that times change," Peter says.
One of Peter's most memorable periods came while he was performing with the Minstrels in Blackpool, when he was asked to dance in a Ken Russell production called Valentino, a film based on the life of Italian movie star and sex symbol, Rudolph Valentino, which starred Rudolf Nureyev.
"Ken Russell was an amazing film director, of course, and I had an amazing six months filming in Blackpool. It was purely a dance part, no speaking. Watching Nureyev rehearse and perform everyday was just incredible, However, he could be really temperamental, but he was very much a star," Peter explains, with a hint of excitement, as he recalls the period.
Peter first came into contact with the Salon Varietés Theatre after buying a home in Fuengirola in 1990. He had come to the Costa del Sol with the intention of relaxing and enjoying a quiet life, but after discovering the small theatre in Fuengirola, this all changed.
"I originally decided to retire when first arriving in Spain, but my love of the theatre changed that. I don't have any regrets though, it's been terrific. Every show we do is important to me," he says.
Peter, who admits to being "a perfectionist", has now been with the Salon Varietés for over thirty years. He is currently getting ready for his latest production, The Sound of Music, which opens on Friday (today) and continues until 6 April.
"I think this show is going to be terrific. We have a really good cast and the costumes are quite spectacular. The show will be a wonderful night of family entertainment, and I hope that many people will come along to support the theatre," Peter concludes.
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