“An obviously great evening as ever. My usual real treat which keeps me going. But truly enhanced by such a wonderful choice of film and band.”

Well that’s the first film of the year done and dusted, just 21 to go and it will be Christmas!!! Bo-Rap was deliberately chosen as the January film to jolt us out of our post-Christmas torpor and start the year off with bang!

“Thank you to all the Volunteers”

It seems appropriate to start this review by talking about Volunteers. Congratulations to Mark Viner as he became the 3rd member of the exclusive “100 Club” having volunteered at 100 films which is an amazing effort. Starting out their journey we were joined on Thursday by not one, not two but three first time Volunteers – Paula, John and Mark. They quickly got into the swing of things getting to grips with running the bar, processing and logging purchases on our cash till (cash tablets….. ), our Welcome Desk and refreshment service. Thanks very much for your help and we hope you enjoyed yourselves even if it does make life a little more complex …. an projection we had Big Mark, on cash we had Little Mark who was showing “New” Mark the ropes!

Thanks to every one of our 13 dedicated Volunteers on the night: New Mark, John, Paula 2, Jackie, David, Chris, Paul, Paula, Martin, Little Mark, Big Mark, Jo and Adam – your efforts were rewarded by the audience score for the evening overall: 9.9

Ticket sales for Bohemian Rhapsody were very strong and the film was sold out – a good start to the year! Attendance was a little low at 76% (our long term average is about 85%). It’s rare that everyone turns up – someone might be ill, others might have had a better offer (What? Surely not !!!). But Thursday afternoon the weather was “rather threatening” and a number will no doubt have looked out of their window and understandably decided to stay inside.

“Lovely evening. We usually do matinees. Nice change, especially hot choc and rum chaser !”

One thing you can always guarantee is that you can NEVER predict what refreshments will be popular on a given day. This year the concept of “Dry January” was roundly rejected by our guests, and for the first time in a while there was a run on the red wine! Just before Christmas it was white wine, before that tea and coffee.

“Great film 10/10. Thank you for a lovely evening too.”

The film went down well receiving an average score of 9.8. A really entertaining movie, there was definitely a lot of foot tapping as Queen’s hits blasted away.  A couple of people said to me as they left that they’d almost got up and danced in the aisles. Next time …. DO IT! What fabulous photos we’ll get of people enjoying themselves!

I know for a fact that the soundproofing in the hall is very good – shortly before the Chantry Centre was completed I went in the hall and played some AC/DC at very high volume. You could hardly hear it in the entrance foyer, and not at all outside!). However, with two hirers upstairs I wasn’t sure whether the sound would penetrate upwards. One of them (in the Council Chamber which is suspended directly above the back of the hall) was a meeting where I suspect there was some vigorous debating going on; the other was a relaxation class. I needn’t have worried; one of the attendees confirmed they didn’t hear a thing. Next time we’ll play it louder!

“3rd time I’ve seen it. Excellent film”

I was mesmerised by Rami Malek’s attention to the detail, particularly Freddy Mercury’s mannerisms and by how closely Gwilym Lee resembled Brian May. It wasn’t until after the film that David pointed me in the direction of a YouTube video which puts Bohemian Rhapsody’s Live Aid concert alongside the real thing. Just how much time and effort must have gone in recreating what happened on stage !

The local charities that we’ve chosen to support during the first half of 2024 are the Billericay Educational Trust, the Cater Museum and the Billericay Foodbank.

Despite the weather, with strong ticket sales and the apparent cancelling of Dry January it was a healthy start for our chosen charities. The final figures may change (there are a few costs still to filter through the books) but with 36% of the audience vote, the Billericay Educational Trust starts the year with around £34 in its pot, the Cater Museum (20%) £19 and Billericay Foodbank (44%) with £42. Not a bad start!

Related Article