Members of the congregation of Whitley Bay Baptist Church have a chance to see their minister in a new light in May when he dons an army uniform to tread the boards of the Playhouse Theatre in a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta.
The Rev. Paul Newman is to play Sergeant Merrill, one of the lead roles in the Tynemouth Gilbert and Sullivan Society’s production of “Yeomen of the Guard” for four nights from Wednesday 23rd May.
Paul arrived in Whitley Bay sixteen years ago with his wife, Gill, son David and daughter Beth. Prior to this he had served at churches in Manchester, York, Wakefield and Darlington.
Until recently Paul’s rich baritone voice has been heard only in the singing of hymns, despite his love of the Victorian musicals.
“I was at school when I first heard the music of Gilbert and Sullivan,” he said. “I don’t know what attracted me to it – possibly its brightness and rhythms.”
After indulging in it at college and while teaching maths for four years, Paul left to train for the ministry, putting his musical hobby behind him.
That was until one of his congregation at Whitley Bay, 67-year-old John Kitson, an active member of the Tynemouth society, persuaded him to take up singing again. John said: “I soon realised he had a splendid voice and asked him to join us.”
The minister, who is 58, said: “I felt I was in need of an outlet, a hobby, and John got to me at the right time. I must say when I joined I was really amazed at the high standard of singing in the society, which makes rehearsals even more enjoyable.”
Tickets for “Yeomen of the Guard” can be obtained from the Playhouse Box Office at £12 for all performances (concessions £9 on Wednesday only).
by Jim Harland