I’ll Walk with God, the new production from Encore Films, began principally photography on 24 July 2015. Written and created by Ian Woodward, the film is an emotional musical drama about a fictitious former opera star from America where La Bohème and My Fair Lady were not sufficient to feed the inner spirituality that drives him on.

His father’s homeland, England, has taken him and Irish-American wife Tess and their daughter Holly to the West Midlands…and to the priesthood. The Rev Jim Watson will always sing. He can’t remember a time when he didn’t or indeed couldn’t express himself through the power of song. In and around his country parish he is known as “The Singing Vicar”: he sings at charity events and at church fetes. But, after meeting divorcee Emma Crawford at the local allotment, things will never be the same for either of them or for the now widower Jim’s actress daughter Holly.

Encore Films is proud to announce that taking on these very different roles will be three of Britain’s most exciting and watchable actors…Norman Bowman as the Rev Jim Watson… Virginia Byron as Emma Crawford…with Claire Heverin playing Holly Watson


NORMAN BOWMAN as the Rev Jim Watson as The Singing Vicar in I’ll Walk with God

Marius in Les Miserables, Danny Zuko in Grease, Tony in West Side Story, Sam Carmichael in ABBA’s Mamma Mia!, Sky Masterson in Guys and DollsNORMAN BOWMAN has played almost every leading song-and-dance man in London’s West End, worked alongside Jude Law in Henry V and appeared as Ross in Kenneth Branagh’s highly-acclaimed 2014 production of Macbeth. His portrayal of Hollywood director Mack Sennett in Mack & Mabel was hailed as “one of London’s outstanding male musical performances of the year”.

He tells people that he feels blessed, but there is much more behind this modest Scottish actor’s rise and rise than meets the eye – and ear. “My role in Guys and Dolls,” he says, “led to me appearing on stage with Ewan McGregor, who I became friends with. When Ewan moved on, I was given the lead role of Nathan Detroit and was privileged to play opposite Patrick Swayze.” Talent will out.

19199484734_e8fdf63719_oCombine all this with other stellar roles in the musicals The Boy Friend and Lady Be Good at the Open Air Theatre in London’s Regents Park, Munkustrap in Cats and Billy Bigelow in Carousel at the Chichester Festival Theatre, and it becomes clear why Norman Bowman’s name has become synonymous with musical theatre at its best.

And yet although the London-based Scots actor-singer from Arbroath may well be a West End superstar there is another side to him which he wishes to explore much more: his huge love of Shakespeare. This is why in recent years he’s appeared in productions such as A Midsummer’s Night Dream at the Manchester International Festival, again directed by Kenneth Branagh.

In the musical romance I’ll Walk with God, in which he plays American opera-star-turned-vicar Jim Watson, he will be combining both the stage-musical and the serious straight-acting side of his prodigious talent and charismatic personality. He says: “In the film my character is nicknamed ‘The Singing Vicar’ because, although he’s left Philadelphia and the world of opera for a new life as a priest in England, he has never lost his love of singing – his need to sing. This is Heaven for me!”

19795402796_c851484ed1_bVIRGINIA BYRON’s appearances at London’s prestigious Lost Theatre Company – a venue which introduced actors such as Ralph Fiennes and Mackenzie Crook to the drama stage – have won her much acclaim. In Proud, about a deeply troubled 18-year-old boxer named Lewis, one critic enthused: “Virginia Byron, as Lewis’ mother, stole the show, delivering an incredible number of witty lines with impeccable timing”. Another critic noted: “Virginia Byron is excellent as the family matriarch, switching from high drama to high comedy in seconds.”

This observation, in fact, might be describing Virginia’s own place in the world of acting for she seems to alternate with consummate ease between comedy and drama. Be it playing Liz Essendine in Present Laughter or Ruth Condamine in Blithe Spirit, in two of Noel Coward’s wittiest comic plays, she is at her comedic best. And in September this year she extends her talent to farce when she stars as Jean Perkins in Ray Cooney’s classic Funny Money at The Dugdale Centre in Enfield, north London (BELOW).


But she is equally known for her London appearances in the works of Samuel Beckett. In fact, she has played most of the Irish avant-garde playwright’s female characters including Mouth in Not I for a No1 tour of Ireland, the mistress in Play, the assistant director in Catastrophe at Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre, and May in both Footfalls and Rockaby.

To cap it all, she is an accomplished Shakespearean actress with such roles behind her as Gertrude, Queen of Denmark and the Danish prince’s mother, in a UK tour of Hamlet. She’s also toured as Olivia in Twelfth Night and Lady Macbeth in Macbeth. Along the way, she’s played Elizabeth Woodville, Queen consort of England (whose children included the Princes in the Tower) – as the spouse of King Edward IV from 1464 until his death in 1483 – in the hit BBC2 series The Real White Queen and Her Rivals.

Although a native Northerner, she spent several childhood years in France and has a base in the Alps where she loves to ski. She also enjoys target shooting with 2.2 rifles.

Now, to round everything off, she is relishing the chance to portray Emma Crawford, a university music lecturer with terminal illness, in the Encore film-musical drama I’ll Walk with God. “Even though my character doesn’t get to sing,” she says, “I’m still finding myself being sucked in by the glorious music that I’ve heard swirling around the set during rehearsals. But filmgoers should be warned: this is very much a weepy, so have plenty of tissues ready!”

19811172921_eaa5b8741e_zA recent BA (Hons) acting graduate, 22-year-old CLAIRE HEVERIN has already packed much into her career…starred both as the Athenian girl Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and as Snail in Karel Čapek’s stage satire The Insect Play (both at London’s Courtyard Theatre), and played Emmott in Don Taylor’s historical drama about the Great Plague that swept Britain in the 17th century, The Roses of Eyam.

Claire, who comes from a dance background and with training in stage combat, has also won critical plaudits for her playing of the spiteful and bitter daughter, Magdalena, in Lorca’s The House of Bernarda Alba. Two weeks before starting rehearsals for I’ll Walk with God she completed a London run in Neighbourhood Watch, Alan Ayckbourn’s hilarious cautionary tale of the dangers of taking the law into your own hands.

“When I first read the script of I’ll Walk with God, and the screenwriter’s description of Holly Watson, it 19634444198_78f5285775_zquickly dawned on me just how much I had in common with her,” she recalls. “Like Holly, I too had part of my early education at a local Church of England school. And, like her, I went on to get a degree in acting.

“I love this quality in Holly where she’s ‘older’ in personality than her years might suggest while still retaining her innocence. It’s not often you get the chance to polar a character with such a similar history. I just knew when I auditioned for the role that I could bring a lot of my own experiences, and a lot of my own dedication, to Holly.”


Above and below:
Ian Woodward with Norman Bowman, Virginia Byron and
Claire Heverin in early pre-filming rehearsals for I’ll Walk with God