top of page
  • Writer's pictureOTGBlogger

Tour Memories #3 - Burton Manor

Burton Manor is another Wirral gem which, if you haven't had the pleasure of visiting, you simply must. The gardens are maintained by the passionate Friends of Burton Manor volunteer group, who do a fabulous job of keeping it looking fresh and picturesque throughout the year. Recent developments on the manor house itself have seen it revamped into a tech/business hub with open office spaces set among the historic building. There's also been a brand new café added!

Off the Ground managed to secure their first performance at Burton Manor a few years ago. It instantly secured itself as a tour favourite with that very first, very memorable performance, of The Musketeers, and we haven't looked back since (well, we are looking back now, so to speak):

Connor W - The Musketeers

"I was playing a spy in one of the opening scenes, who got roughed up by a couple of bodyguards. Elliott and Stuie were the bodyguards, and part of it involved them painting my face with blood. As none of the 3 of us had left the stage before this, the simplest way of accessing 'blood' was to use the cherries from the previous scene. There I was being face-painted with cherries, when Stuie wiped one across my forehead and whispered 'Simba' at me, from the Lion King. I could barely get through my first lines for fighting off the laughter. Professional as ever. As if the cherries weren't enough, mid-way through this fit of giggles, Elliott decided to inform Stuie and I, without the audience noticing of course, that the dagger we needed for our imminent fight scene was not where it was supposed to be. There was no time left for him to look for it without it looking like a mistake, and so what followed was a very frantic whispered conversation about a few moves we could replace the dagger section with. I distinctly remembering telling Stuie to 'headbutt me' through the corner of my mouth upstage of the audience. Miraculously, and this is credit to Stuie's insane fighting abilities, we pulled it off, and nobody was any the wiser, even among the cast who had been watching offstage.

That was quite the opening scene. Professional as ever."

Tomo - The Musketeers

"Crouching Tomo, Hidden Porthos, as this moment would come to be known at OTG. Unable to get 'off stage', I, in my infinite wisdom, to allow the narrative to continue and the audience not get on to the fact that I was in fact still there on stage, crouched perfectly and hid myself, low down, with my cape adding elf-like magical qualities in masking my human form from the audience and looking like a rock."

Dan M - The Musketeers

" I had one of my favourite nights on our first visit to Burton. I mean, being a Musketeer with three great friends and a brilliant cast was a joy anyway, but that night we had a full house and lovely weather. Because we perform in a sunken garden we also had a proper stage (featuring a tree planted to celebrate the victory at Waterloo), stalls and a full gallery around the edge. Perfect.

As it went dark the angle of the lights made the swords very difficult to see which always makes for an exciting second half. Undoubtedly though, the highlight of the night was the moment when Tomo found himself centre stage with no way off either side and realised his character, Porthos, was meant to be hiding…. (I'm not sure the rock explanation fooled anyone.)"

Eleanor M - The Musketeers

"I remember watching Musketeers at Burton Manor, it made me very jealous! Was such a fab show. I decided then to audition for the next tour, Zorro, after a 3 year absence."

Matty G - Zorro

"The most rainy Zorro ever."

Eleanor M - Zorro

"I also remember basically shouting all my lines in Zorro so they could be heard over the rain, the following year!"

Dan M - Zorro

"I also had to shout my lines. THIS IS THE PLOT WE’RE YELLING AT YOU NOW."

Matty G - The Musketeers

"This was the venue when Dan first announced to the cast that he was about to become a dad. He was missing a couple of days to head down to London for his part in the IVF treatment. Felt like an odd thing to be applauding, when you consider the practical element..."

Dan M - Zorro

"I was presented with a lovely IVF gift... It was a very beautiful cast & company moment and I was worried I might get a bit mawkish. Or even just mawk."

Elissa C - A Midsummer Night's Dream

"I remember sneaking off with Harrison and doing a full photoshoot in the garden. I had a great time, felt like a proper Disney princess."

* Picture evidence below!

Elissa C - A Midsummer Night's Dream

"I also think that might have been the one where Kathy brought the dog she was looking after. Was unique to have a company pet for the evening, should happen more often, I say."

Connor W - The Musketeers & Zorro

"For me Burton will always be the go to example on how, for outdoor theatre, preparation and everything else can go out the window at the mercy of the elements. The evening we had there performing Musketeers is one that I will never forget. The venue was packed, the weather was perfect (and a lovely sunset to boot). The audience were so involved with the show throughout, cheering and booing and laughing along. It was, by no means of the imagination, one of our best performances technically, as there were a few hilarious mistakes made, but on nights like that it doesn't matter - there's an atmosphere of all being in it together, the audience, cast and crew, and that's what makes it magical. The next year, for Zorro, we probably had the same audience and a largely similar cast, and yet it rained throughout and nobody could be heard for the wind. It was a very, very different experience - that's when it feels like hard work!"

Tomo - The Musketeers

"Also the same production where Jack came running out of the shadows shouting his tribute to Indiana Jones - KALIMAHHHHH! Knowing he was coming at me with a sword I trusted the rehearsal process, rather than my eyes, which were struggling to adjust to the flood light/dark wing combo, raised my sword above my head to block the inevitable first move and... needless to say, like pros we survived to tell the tale and then continue through the remaining 17 shows."

Andy B - A Midsummer Night's Dream (2002)

This one is not from Burton Manor, but the very close by Ness Gardens, where OTG performed for many years prior to Burton Manor.

"I’m sure loads of stories involve “and then it started absolutely chucking it down” but…we were getting well into the performance around the time when all the lovers were being put to sleep by Puck… when it started absolutely chucking it down. My fellow fairies and I were sent on with umbrellas, some kindly donated by the audience, to cover those lovers who were lying “asleep” in puddles getting thoroughly drenched.

* Photo from Elissa's photoshoot:


Connor Wray
Connor Wray
Jul 24, 2020

We never will learn! It's all practice for when we get to start our summer tour in Ireland in August, but to end it in Greece in December...when it will also probably rain.


Carlow Digital
Carlow Digital
Jul 24, 2020

The 'chucking it down' memories above brings to mind the sheer number of OTG shows I've seen which, at some point, invariably involve the cast lying about in the rain. Dead, asleep, bewitched, bewildered. I've always wondered - do they just have short memories? Did they not remember the show was going to be outdoors... on grass... in Ireland... where it famously rains... a lot? Are OTGers particularly waterproof? Or those shows where the main character's costume is basically a bare chest. At night. in August. In Ireland. Midges lining up for days, waiting for the show to start.

bottom of page