'Get behind Women of Steel musical The Canary Girls' says Sheffield businesswoman
Financial planner Jillian Thomas is urging Sheffield businesses to back a musical based in the city.
The Canary Girls, co-written by former police detective Tim Nye, is inspired by Sheffield’s famous Women of Steel who worked in the steel industry during the Second World War.
The name Canary Girls comes from the fact that women who worked in steel and munitions factories often turned a shade of yellow due to the chemical processes.
Tim is collaborating with Tim Kellett, formerly of Simply Red, and singer-songwriter Rosie Doonan on the musical, which has been nearly eight years in production.
Tim, who owns Marmadukes Café Deli on Norfolk Row in Sheffield, said: “Apparently the average musical takes 10 to 12 years to bring to the stage, so I don’t think we are doing too badly!
“But these are obviously really difficult times for performing arts and musical theatre is no exception. So, any help we can get from local businesses would be fantastic.”
Jillian, who is managing director of Future Life Wealth Management, said: “My mum worked in a munitions factory in Lancashire and I also met several of the Women of Steel when I was president of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce. And my absolute passion is musical theatre.
“So, when I was introduced to Tim it was a great combination.
“I can advise on the business side and I also hope I can help with my connections in the city.”
Future Life Wealth Management is based in Renishaw and offers a bespoke financial planning service.
The Canary Girls follows three young women who work in munitions factories and sing to keep their spirits up.
“Canaries sing and they are yellow. So, I thought this needs to be a musical, not a play. I’ve never written a musical before, even though I have been writing for about 12 years,” said Tim.
“I managed to persuade Tim Kellett and Rosie Doonan as professional song-writers to come on board and they are only involved because they believe this could be a fantastic show that could one day end up in the West End. Our ambitions are very high, even though my starting place was very low.”
After leaving Simply Red, Tim Kellett formed Olive and co-wrote their song You’re Not Alone which was a number one hit and is the theme to a national bank’s TV advertisement. Rosie Doonan is from Wakefield and has toured with artists such as Peter Gabriel and Birdy.
The musical has already got the backing of Sheffield City Council, Sheffield Newspapers and Sheffield Theatres, with plans for a ‘sharing’ performance for industry insiders at the theatres before the end of the year.
Tim is keen for one person to be in the audience: “I really want to put a performance on in Sheffield so that Kathleen Roberts, one of the Women of Steel I have met, can be there.
“She is an incredible lady with amazing stories to tell, some of which have made it into the musical. But some of the expletives they used we have had to leave out!”
Jillian said: “It’s really important that the story is told of these heroic women. And it would be great to show a positive story to the world in the midst of all that is going on at the moment.”