19 January 2024

Behind the scenes of Belongings

Lyn Woods

The cast of Belongings performing a song - a young woman is standing on a stool singing wearing a cowboy hat surrounding by other cast members
Pictures: Andrew King Photography

Stephanie Lamplough and Paul Sharman (Music and Creative Arts) tell Lyn Woods about the new Salvation Army musical touring the territory.

What’s Belongings about?

SL It’s set in a Salvation Army charity shop, where people from all walks of life are trapped because of a storm, and we get to hear and relate to their stories and how God features in their lives.

What’s the message behind the musical?

SL That God is everywhere, in the everyday. And that listening, helping and being there for others can change lives.

A photo of the Belongings cast singing on stage

PS We learnt that the mission of Salvation Army charity shops is important. It’s not just about selling clothes and other things – for many people, it might be the only interaction they have with the Army as a church.

SL Although it’s set in a charity shop, those conversations can happen anywhere for us as Christians if we leave the doors open.

How did it all come about?

SL This is a first for both of us, as part of the Music and Creative Arts team. Producing a musical is something we’ve wanted to do for a long time. I started writing during furlough, but it was last summer that the idea came to me and I approached Paul. We collaborated from there – Paul composed the music and I wrote the lyrics. We didn’t want to rush it, we wanted to prepare and rehearse it, to make it as good as we could. We realised this is God’s time for it, and that Together 2023 would make a great showcase for it after its premiere at the SATCoL conference.

The characters are inspired by real people’s stories. Did you speak to any of them?

SL I very much wanted it to be a character-based musical, so I started doing research on their backgrounds. Some were people I knew personally, but I looked at case studies and consulted others with experience in this setting to ensure that it was all being portrayed accurately. I visited the charity shop at Brownhills where I met with SATCoL Director Trevor Caffull. I also met the people working there and had lots of talks with them, which made me realise that I needed to introduce two new roles – a store manager and a volunteer.

How was the musical’s premiere at the SATCoL conference?

PS It was received extremely well from SATCoL personnel and the Salvation Army leadership who were present. We thought that SATCoL members would be a good audience for us, people who are in that environment that we’re trying to portray on stage. Although many who attended weren’t Christians, and it’s about faith and stories of being Christian, they were engaged in it from the very first song.

SL Afterwards, emails were received from charity shop managers saying they had never put that much worth on their jobs, but seeing them through other people’s eyes was reaffirming and made them feel recognised and valued.

Where are the cast members drawn from?

SL We wanted to include people from across the territory, people who were doing drama at a local level, people with a real heart for drama. We wanted to make it accessible and for people to be involved who hadn’t done drama for a long time, because there wasn’t the avenue, or people who already did things within the Army and this was their passion. We wanted to make it authentic in every way.

A photo of a scene from Belongings - an older woman has their hand on a mans arm as he sings

Through connections at Territorial Music School and our Music and Creative Arts leaders group, Join the Crescendo, we have cast members from as far apart as Scotland, London and Clevedon. As you can imagine, getting people together wasn’t easy!

Since Together 2023, where can folk see Belongings?

SL Our plan is to keep performing it for a couple of years, then the dream is that people will perform it themselves, that it will keep going and have a life beyond that. It’s feasible for corps and centres to replicate as the costumes and props are items that we all have around us, so it’s very cost-effective with a small cast. We’ve handed it over to God now and have no idea of the impact it will have and what he can do with it in the future.

PS Watch this space!

Interview by

A photo of Lyn Woods

Lyn Woods

Editorial Assistant

Belongings on Tour

See more

Next location: Clevedon

Next location: Clevedon

Discover more

Ivan Radford reviews the musical Belongings – now on tour!

Inspiring others to realise the potential that music and creative arts can have in expressing who we are and who God is.

A week of music, Bible study, fun and fellowship for Salvationists and friends of The Salvation Army. 

7-17 yrs: Learn and perform songs, dances and drama scenes from Salvation Army and West End musicals.