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Desert Island Shows by Anna Sutton

Musical theatre has been in my life for as long as I can remember so it is only fitting that we start at the very beginning with The Sound of Music. This was my very first show. Mum found herself hiding a large baby bump under the voluminous fabric of a habit being six months pregnant with me. 24 years later, I was lucky enough to be in the same show, this time on stage as nun alongside both my mum and big sister.

The King & I. Whilst The Sound of Music was my first show on stage, The King & I is the one that gave me my name! Family story is that mum and dad were struggling to come up with any girls’ names when they went to see Yul Brynner in The King & I, and so when I came along Mrs Anna became just Anna. Sadly, although BLOC has performed it twice since I was born, on both occasions, I found myself studying and unable to perform myself. I did however get to create snowflakes for the ballet! I may never have performed in this show, but it will always be the show that makes me cry. ‘Something Wonderful’ sees me well up every time I hear it. It was this show that gave mum a Rose Bowl for Best Supporting Performance in a Musical playing Lady Thiang.

Carousel. This was the first show I remember being a part of, aged six. Alongside big sister Laura and children of other BLOC adults, I played one of the Snow Children. I remember having publicity photos taken on the waterfront and, most excitingly, the rush on stage every night to get to have a go on the full-sized working carousel.

42nd Street. This show really saw my life with BLOC begin. The rest of the family were involved in this production and rather than leave me alone every night, aged 14, I was drafted in to work as a dresser with the under-16 dancers under the stage. I remember listening to the thunderous tap opening and the mammoth quick change during the ‘Dames’ number. As a mover rather than a dancer I never thought I would get to perform in this show (BLOC had held open dance auditions) however, I was lucky enough to perform in it 18 years later with BAOS.

Anything Goes. Although there was not a lot to do once the show was running, at 16 I was allowed to join dad and this was my first show as part of his back stage crew. I had enjoyed my time as a dresser but wanted to do more and I discovered that this could be just as much fun as being on stage.

White Christmas. Having already said I would describe myself as more of a mover than a dancer, this show is special as it gave me the chance to be a dancer. I may not have been a featured dancer, but I was a secondary dancer and that meant a lot to me. Although I have been performing on stage since I finished university, I have always managed to continue to be an active part of the back stage crew. White Christmas meant snow, which meant many opportunities for the crew to find ways of hiding it, usually in the pocket or bag of another unsuspecting member of the crew. We all discovered that fake snow is like glitter you just cannot get rid of it!

Sister Act. This show was special for so many reasons. From the moment that I heard the music, I loved it and having seen it in London I knew it was a show that would be amazing for BLOC. When it came to show week, everything came together. It was fantastic - the music, the lights, the costumes and the audiences. I will also never forget watching mum rap and get down as Sister Mary Lazarus, without doubt a performance I will remember forever.

2018 was to see me take part in my 25th show with BLOC and what a show it turned out to be. Therefore, my final choice has to be Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Few shows that take you back to your childhood, but this is one of them. With masses of props, children and a flying car it was definitely a show with its challenges, but the look of wonder on my niece’s face as Chitty flew makes you realise why you do it all. It was priceless.

If you could only take one show soundtrack with you? I could only take one show it would have to be Sister Act. Although, having finished the week, it took a long time to listen to the music again, as the post show blues had been particularly hard, it is still one of the few shows that I would do again in a heartbeat.

Best Bit of BLOC? With my family history, BLOC was always going to be part of my life. What I did not expect was just how big a part of mine it was going to be. BLOC has given me the opportunity to discover that I enjoy being backstage and the camaraderie that goes with it just as much as performing on stage. It has also been the starting place of some amazing friendships.

Highlight of being with BLOC? Performing at the Hippodrome is always special, looking out into a full audience is amazing, add in a standing ovation and it is incredible. Sister Act provided all of these.

Show I would Love BLOC to do: Wicked - amazing leads and great chorus numbers perfect show for BLOC.

Book apart from Shakespeare and the Bible? Not a huge reader, but the books that I can read repeatedly are the Harry Potter books so it would have to be that.

Luxury? This would have to be my sewing machine and fabric. Sewing is my way of relaxing and making time for me.

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