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Swynnerton Roses to bloom in Staffordshire

By Staffordshire Newsletter  |  Posted: May 01, 2014

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STAFFORDSHIRE'S wartime women will be the focus when a new production of legendary New Vic show I Don't Want to Set the World on Fire! on takes over the theatre-in-the-round this month.

Filled with laughter and tears and bursting with the music of the 1940s, Bob Eaton's play about life in World War II North Staffordshire was inspired by the stories of the Roses of Swynnerton, the brave women who worked at a Staffordshire munitions factory.

Directed by Conrad Nelson, I Don't Want to Set the World on Fire! is at the New Vic from Friday, May 2, to Saturday, May 24.

When war is declared in September 1939, the lives of Stoke-on-Trent's Beresford family are changed forever. With brother Harry off in the army and Dad building Anderson shelters and digging for victory, 17-year-old Lily is called up to work in a munitions factory, the most dangerous job on the home front.

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Together with thousands of ordinary women living in extraordinary times, Lily learns the lessons of life, love and loss, meets happiness and tragedy, and looks forward to the hope of a new world.

First staged at the New Vic in 1990, I Don't Want to Set the World on Fire! was reprised in 1991 and 1994 and was nominated for Best Musical in the 1991 TMA Regional Theatre Awards.

Conrad Nelson said: "This wonderfully colourful drama is filled with characters based on the recollections of the women who worked at the Royal Ordinance Factory in Swynnerton during World War II.

"The extraordinary service of these Swynnerton Roses and the work of other munitions workers across the country remains largely unrecognised. By the summer of 1942, 18,000 people were employed at the camouflaged semi-sunken site of filling factory No. 5. It was extremely dangerous work and many were killed or wounded."

Tickets for the event, priced £12 to £21, are available by telephoning the New Vic box office on 01782 717962 or www.newvictheatre.org.uk.

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