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About the amateur comedy Below Stairs

This production is ideal for any amateur theatre group or operatic society looking to perform an original, fun, entertaining, story.

The amateur comedy requires a minimum cast of 14. Excluding minor roles, there are named parts for six females (one being early teens), and eight males (one also early teens). The première had a cast of two dozen, a comfortable number, and all 14 subsequent productions have had about the same.

The most demanding role is that of lady's maid Lucy. Apart from excellent acting and singing ability, she must be capable of speaking with convincing ‘London’, American, posh and French accents. And in her alter ego as the French entertainer Arlette on the music hall stage, she also is required to sing with a French accent.

In the first production, the chorus had 12 ladies, three of whom also had named cameo parts. There were six men, all playing small roles as well. But the numbers can easily be increased with more chorus and dancers.

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“The show is jam-packed with loads of tuneful, toe-tapping (and sometimes cheeky) numbers. There wasn’t a duff song in the whole thing. Below Stairs is a timeless piece of musical theatre that certainly deserves a wider audience and if some kind entrepreneur or impresario wants a sure-fire hit, they need look no further.”

Costa Blanca News, April 18–24 2003

A little insight

Amateur Stage magazine

For an insight into putting the show on, have a look at the two write-ups in Amateur Stage. The first, in the May 2005 issue (download 809kb pdf), was written by Kay Smith who produced the Riverside Players production and the second, in the May 2012 issue (download 1.1mb pdf), is by Cevin Barker who staged the Huddersfield production for Lindley Church Amateur Operatic Society. Both give useful background on every aspect of the show.

The chorus

The chorus is easily augmented by involving more kitchenmaids, suffragettes, bathers, etc. This gives the show a useful versatility, in that, for example, it is easily adapted for schools, which often prefer to have as large a cast as possible.

The music

Musically, there is a good mixture of styles and tempi. The two romantic ballads are a Tom/Lucy duet My girl and Tom’s solo When I’m alone at night. There are seven chorus numbers including Below stairs, Votes for women, I am a very fine cook, High days and holidays, Ridiculogical, One brief moment, The stage is no place for a decent girl, and the rousing final march When our boys come marching home. Mr Town, the butler, has an Elgarian solo Order in our lives and social climber Edward has the charming Would you like to take a little walk with me.

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If you are in need of costumes, we can recommend:

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A love story set during WW1 in Edwardian London

This is a believable love story about life below stairs in a large London home in 1914 during the outbreak of WW1. The story revolves around the life of Lucy Ambleside, a lady's maid. She is a bright, intelligent young woman with a will to succeed and a gift for mimicry. Lucy has ideas above her station and uses her talents to appear at a society ball dressed as an American heiress where she meets the Hon Edward Waterflower, an apparent gentleman but not all he seems.


Having always wanted to appear on the Music Hall, she auditions on her day off and gets an occasional spot with the local impresario. Here, thanks to her personality and mimicry skills, Lucy becomes Arlette, the lady from Paris. However, she is caught by butler Mr Town creeping in late from her audition and dismissed without references. With nowhere to go, she returns to the theatre and becomes a full-time performer.

Local bobby PC Tom Snodgrasse, who is in love with Lucy, tries to find her after she is sacked but fails and enlists in the army. On his last night, he goes to the Music Hall and recognises her on stage as Arlette. They spend his last night together before he goes off to war, where he is posted missing in action.


Next, Lucy finds herself pregnant. For the dénouement, why not download or send for the script