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Canals of Old England

By Bonnet and Belt Theatre Company

Sat 3 March, 7:00pm8:30pm


Date: Sat 3 March
Time: 7:00pm to 8:30pm
Price: £10 / £8 Under 25s
Venue: Anthony Minghella Theatre

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“..a stunning and original musical history of England’s canals.”  –  York House Centre

Bonnet and Belt Theatre Company presents Canals of Old England – an exciting new show by musician and writer Phil Underwood celebrating the heritage of the English canals accompanied by melodeon, concertina and fiddle.

Stirring original songs and evocative poetry weave together with real canal tales and history to tell the stories of the working people on the early canals and the incredible society they created. Step dancing and puppetry complement the music to create a powerful, imaginative and entertaining theatrical event which brings home the vital part the canals played in the industrial development of Britain.

From the true story of the Horse that Jumped at the Moon to the almost true story of the boatman who might have prevented World War Two, the history of the canals and the people who worked the boats unfolds. Through narrative, music and verse, personal stories emerge of struggle, tragedy, hardship and competition with the railways, offset by beautiful artwork and inspiring tales of love, family, resilience and courage. Come prepared to sing along with Phil and Nancy in this both moving and fun retelling of the canal story.

The Cast

Phil Underwood (National Theatre, Bill Bailey) grew up on the Isle of Wight in a theatrical family and now lives on a traditional narrow boat on the Grand Union canal. A folk/roots singer all his adult life, he trained for the stage at The National Theatre in 2012 and was personally invited by actor and musician John Tams (Sharpe, Albion Band, War Horse) to audition for the part of Songman in the West End show War Horse. His many stage and screen appearances include Bill Bailey at Wembley Arena, Songs of Praise, Robson Green’s Tales of the Coast, Eastenders and the BBC World Service.

Nancy Potts (Morris Offspring, Royal Opera House) has played fiddle and sung all her life, and started morris dancing at the age of eight. Her canal credentials are impeccable – she first learned to walk on a narrow boat. She spent most of her school holidays at folk festivals and became the youngest tutor ever for Shooting Roots, the youth folk arts organisation. Nancy has recorded at Pinewood studios; played, sung and danced (not at the same time!) at the Royal Albert Hall; sung at the Royal Festival Hall and Royal Opera House; and toured the UK, USA and Canada as musician for Morris Offspring. She performs regularly at Sidmouth International Festival and runs workshops on ceilidh dancing.

Bonnet and Belt has recently acquired two important traditional narrow boats – Ultima and Thule – on which we plan to tour the show on the canal system in 2018. Several major shows are already confirmed and full details may be found on our website http://bonnetandbelt.com


An Evening Menu will be available from 5.30pm. Booking is recommended, please call 01983 822490 to book a table. To view the Quay Arts Evening Menu please click the link. 

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