Row after man ‘blacked up’ for show

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Community news and events from the Peterborough Telegraph - peterboroughtoday.co.uk/news, @peterboroughtel on Twitter, Facebook.com/peterboroughtoday
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An amateur dramatics theatre company has defended its show after accusations an actor ‘blacked up’ during performances.

The Westwood Musical Society finished its run of The Wedding Singer at The Key Theatre over the weekend, with more than 1,500 people going to see the show over a five night run, which started on April 12.

However, some audience members said they were angry, after one actor wore black make -up to play an impersonator of A Team actor Mr T.

The society said they had contacted the rights holders of the musical about the issue, and had not intended any offence.

Leitina Reuben-Travers, a member of another amateur dramatics group, Peterborough Operatic and Dramatic Society (PODS) said: “I couldn’t believe it when the actor playing the Mr T impersonator came out and he had been blacked up.

“I was gobsmacked. You could hear an intake of breath from the audience when he came out.

“I could not believe I was in 2016, I was appalled. As a black woman, I was offended to see someone blacked up.

“At PODS we rehearse for six months, and I can’t believe no one at Westwood would have raised it as an issue.

“Last year we ran a campaign to try and encourage more people from minorities to join up, and I think this sends out the wrong message.”

Alan Ribakovs, chairman of the group, said: “We apologise to anyone who has taken offence by our production. Of course, this was not our intention.

“Our aim was to create and perform a piece of theatre in keeping with the script and the era in which it was set.

“We did contact the rights holders and their reply was that there was nothing to stop us using make-up to portray these fake impersonators, as they are ‘fake’ not portraying the actual person.”

Mr Ribakovs said they had received positive feedback from the audience following the run of shows – and no one had complained directly to the society or the Key Theatre.