HUSBAND and wife actors Emma and Mike Griffiths are preparing to play a married couple for the first time on the Bristol Hippodrome stage.
The Downend couple will play Emily and Bob Cratchit in A Christmas Carol, a musical version of Charles Dickens’ classic festive ghost story with a score by multi award-winning composer Alan Menken.
They will be part of a cast of some of the region’s most talented amateur performers assembled by BLOC Productions, which has chosen the musical to “fill the Hippodrome with inspiration” for its 90th anniversary.
Emma and Mike have been members of BLOC Productions for 18 years, playing many leading roles in that time.
Emma has played Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, Dolores in Sister Act, and Belle in Beauty and the Beast, while Mike has played the leading man in BLOC productions of Oklahoma, Sunset Boulevard and White Christmas.
Although they have played opposite each other for other companies at other venues, including as Bonnie and Clyde and the lead roles in musical Rock of Ages, they had always missed out on playing opposite each other on the Hippodrome stage, until now.
Emma said: “We’re a real-life married couple playing a married couple on stage for the first time.
“It’s the first time we get to properly interact with each other at the Hippodrome.”
Mike, who grew up in Fishponds, and Emma, who is originally from Willsbridge, met when they were pupils at the then John Cabot CTC in Kingswood.
They joined BLOC when they were students at Bath Spa University, making their stage debuts at the Hippodrome.
Emma said: “I still remember stepping out onto the stage for the first time.
“It’s such an incredible space – there’s nothing quite like it.”
Mike said: “It’s a great feeling when the curtain comes up on a show in the Hippodrome and you see the space you are performing in.”
When they are not acting, Emma is the head of marketing for a software company while Mike is an operations manager for a legal claims company.
The show will be a chance for their three-year-old daughter Robyn to see them perform for the first time.
Emma says putting on a show at the 2,000-seat Hippodrome is a “huge financial and operational undertaking”.
BLOC Productions, founded 90 years ago as Bristol Light Opera Club, is one of only two amateur companies in the country to be able to stage productions in a large-scale professional theatre.
Emma says it is “thrilling” to be performing with a 20-piece orchestra in the pit, which enables the audience “to hear the score as it was intended to be heard”.
Alan Menken has won Oscars, Golden Globes, Grammies, a Tony and an Emmy award for his music, which includes the scores of Disney movies Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Pocahontas.
A Christmas Carol also features ghosts and magic tricks created by Bristol-born illusionist and magician Chris Cox, who has made BBC TV shows and performed at the West End, Broadway and Sydney Opera House, as well as touring across the world.
BLOC Productions chairman Philip Hallworth said: “In celebration of BLOC’s 90th Anniversary, we wanted to choose a production that would fill the Hippodrome with inspiration and resonate as strongly today as it did a century ago.
“A Christmas Carol is a tale with universal themes of kindness that transcend barriers of class and social prejudice.
“We are proud to have a fantastically talented cast, both in leading roles and in the ensemble, and we genuinely hope that everyone will relish this extraordinary show.”
A Christmas Carol runs from November 14 to 18 at the Bristol Hippodrome.
For more details of the show visit BLOC’s website at www.blocproductions.co.uk, which includes a link to the ticket site.