‘Strock opera’ tells the tale of fallen war hero


A POPULAR local band have composed a show to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the First World War, telling the story of a fallen local hero.

Dee Kirkwood and her company Runner Bean is working with Virgin Soldiers and the Assembly Halls Theatre, Tunbridge Wells, to bring the epic and emotional tale of David Reginald Salomons to the theatre in October.

James Beeny, who formed the up and coming six-piece band, composed the ‘strock opera’ with fellow band member Gina Georgio.

It is called The Dreamers – after the poem by World War I poet Siegfried Sassoon who lived in Matfield and whose brother died in Gallipoli.

The production has been described as being in the genre of The War of the Worlds, with a combination of narration and music to tell the story.

The music will be performed live by Virgin Soldiers who will be joined on stage by a choir that has been put together of singers from across Kent and Sussex, including current and past students from Claverham Community College in Battle.

The ‘strock’ choir includes members of Bows and Arrows, the young band formed and mentored by James and Gina and the winners of Fusion, competitions for the performing arts run by Runner Bean in 2012 and 2013, Nick Pavely and Emily Woodham.

Research for the project has drawn upon help and advice from Hastings-based historian and writer Andy Saunders and the resources of the Salomons Museum.

Actor Christopher Beeny, who is James’ father, will be playing one of the narrators.

Christopher starred with Thora Hird in In Loving Memory and more recently in the series Last Of The Summer Wine, but he is probably best known for his portrayal of Edward the footman in the 1970s hit series Upstairs,Downstairs.

Christopher’s moving performance, as Edward struggled with shell shock after coming back from the trenches during the First World War, earned him many accolades.

Other top names will be adding to the narration.

David Salomons was the only male heir to the Broomhill Estate, later renamed Salomons Estate.

In 1915 he led his regiment, made up of young men from Kent and Sussex to Gallipoli.

Runner Bean is currently in talks to take The Dreamers on a tour of UK theatres.

Virgin Soldiers, whose members hail from Sussex and Kent, received support from Tom Robinson with national airplay on BBC6 Music of their track Children following its first airing by Dominic King on BBC Radio Kent.

The band is releasing their new #Lovestrock EP, featuring Children, on Monday, February 24.

It is available to pre-order on iTunes and Amazon.