Christchurch show finally goes ahead after two year search for black actors
MILTON Musical Society is finally staging its production of Ragtime at the Regent Theatre in Christchurch - after taking two years to find six black actors.
The show tackles immigration and racism in New York at the beginning of the twentieth century.
The problem was that although the group, which is based in New Milton, has 80 members, none are black.
The society's committee refused to let white actors "black-up" or "stand in the shadows", after deeming it "inappropriate".
As a result, members went on a recruitment drive, including approaching any black people they spotted at work, or out shopping nearby.
The society had hoped to stage the show last year but were forced to postpone it when they failed to fill the 10 black roles in time.
They finally found their leading man and lady from towns around 30 miles away.
Jonathan Shiner, 61, from the society, said: "New Milton and the surrounding areas have largely white populations, which is reflected in our membership.
"When we are looking for a white man or a white girl we have 100,000 options and therefore rarely have trouble filling these roles.
"However, with Ragtime, we need around 10 black performers, who are able to sing and act to a high standard.”
He added that they now have six black actors and are looking for four more to fill chorus roles.
The society can be contacted through www.miltonmusical.org
Ragtime is being staged at the Regent Centre from Wednesday 17th to Saturday 20th April.