Free And Easy
by Bill Cronshaw
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"... oozes all the vintage strength and flavour
of a rich Northern bitter ..."

"... slips effortlessly through moments of foot-tapping exhilaration,
topical in-jokes, touching drama and outrageous comedy."

Simon Lewis, BBC Gloucestershire Theatre Critic

Just as the original performances in Cheltenham closed to thunderous applause, the script and songs in this hugely entertaining musical comedy play have had a similar effect on the cast and audiences of all subsequent productions.

Set in 1960’s Manchester, Eric and Iris Dobbins have been running a friendly neighbourhood pub (The Last Drop) for many years, and regularly run an evening of ‘Free And Easy’ (now known as Karaoke), both of which have helped them to win the coveted ‘Pub Of The North’ Award twice. Everybody knows everybody – it’s a real family style pub; a home from home – somewhere to feel safe and warm and comfortable.

Their peaceful existence is threatened however by a visit from Ron Stone, the brewery’s new external premises consultant who presents them with a new five-year business plan and a revised tenancy agreement. The oleaginous Stone has seen the ‘marketing potential’ of The Last Drop and has persuaded the brewery to not renew their existing agreement, but to demand twenty-five thousand pounds for a new one. Failure to pay will mean eviction – and thus allow the consultants to take over the pub and transform it into an ‘entertainment centre’ where pole-dancing and other salacious events are held. Eric, Iris and Tracy (their daughter) are distraught, Vanessa and Sharon (the barmaids) are devastated, and the regulars (Kev, ‘Switch’ and Lonnie) are disconcerted.

Vanessa feels obliged to reveal to Iris that she knows Ron Stone of old, having had to ‘dance’ in one of his clubs in the South, and that she may have an idea of how to stop him in his tracks. She persuades Sharon and the male regulars to help her and sets about her plan.

She and Sharon (together with Kev, ‘Switch’ and Lonnie) visit Ron’s office. The girls pretend to agree with him that it would be in all their best interests to modernise the pub, then, barricading him in another office and fusing all the lights, they manage to steal his file on The Last Drop. This reveals that not only was there a letter for the Dobbins’ from North West TV offering the pub an entertainment contract, but the ‘new’ tenancy agreement was a forgery. By the time Ron manages to escape and gets to The Last Drop, not only have the relevant papers been given to a solicitor, but Eric has recorded all of Ron’s threats and admissions on tape, ready for the Police. With Ron’s plans thwarted, the staff and regulars at “the North’s favourite pub” look forward to a brighter future with ‘Free And Easy’ beamed live into every home, every Friday night.

With over fifteen songs from the 50s and 60s, to be successful, this play with music requires an enthusiastic cast of strong actor/singers, and a small competent band.

Eric Dobbins - Landlord of ‘The Last Drop’ pub
Iris Dobbins - Landlady of ‘The Last Drop’ pub
Tracy Dobbins - Iris and Eric’s daughter.
Sharon Booth - a barmaid
Vanessa Spinks - another barmaid, a single working mother with twins
Lonnie Lennox - a pub regular, rather simple
Kev Sutcliffe - another pub regular, a scout leader
Steve ‘Switch’ Mullen - another pub regular, an electrician, slightly ‘spivvy’
Dodgy’ Ron Stone - the Brewery’s Premises Consultant,
The cast is also supported by a band consisting of keyboard player, drummer and guitarist.

Act One  
#1 Da Doo Ron Ron Company
#2 It’s Not Unusual (short instrumental extract) The Band
#3 Bye Bye Blackbird (instrumental extract) The Band
#4 Living Doll (short extract) Eric
#5 Bobby’s Girl Vanessa & Sharon
#6 Bye Bye Love Kev & Switch
#7 Down Town Sharon
#8 Ghost Riders in the Sky Lonnie
#9 Why Do Fools Fall in Love Vanessa, Lonnie & Company
#10 Cry Me A River Vanessa
#11 Rock Around The Clock Company
Act Two  
#12 Can’t Help Falling In Love Kev
#13 These Boots Were Made For Walking Tracy, Vanessa & Sharon
#14 When I Fall in Love Tracy & Switch
#15 Dedicated Follower of Fashion Company
#16 Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow Company
#17 Medley (I’m A Believer; California Dreaming & Da Doo Ron Ron) Company


Duration : 100 mins
Acts : 2
Principals : 5m, 4f
Sets : 1
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