Theatregoers will get a taste of the workhouse when gruel is served up to them during a production about Victorian England.

Audiences at Guiseley Theatre will have the dubious pleasure of sampling the dish before the opening gala night of a show about Dr Barnardo and the homes he founded.

Guiseley Amateur Operatic Society will be staging The Likes of Us, the first collaboration between Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. It was written in the 1960s when both were teenagers.

The show has never been seen before in the Leeds area.

Gruel, which was the staple diet of generations of the poor during Victorian times, will be offered to the audience on the opening night. Made from oatmeal, water and salt, the dish resembles a weak porridge.

Society chairman Margaret Dexter said: “We are telling the story of how Dr Barnardo’s came into being and how difficult life was for the poorest of society in Victorian times. We thought that serving up gruel might help the audience to get a taste of how grim life was for many children in those days.”

The recipe for gruel has been sourced from the internet and cast members have been trying it out for some weeks. The reaction to the dish has, not surprisingly, been lukewarm.

The Likes of Us is currently on limited release to amateur societies across the country.

It is expected that a revised version of the show may be brought to the West End stage as a professional production in the next two years.

For the youngest member of the cast, Izzy Burnett, going on stage was meant to signal her big break.

But the really big break came in mid-August when the eight-year-old fell off a bouncy slide and broke her arm, threatening her stage debut.

Izzy, of New Road, Yeadon, has been in pot for more than five weeks, but, in the nick of time, the plaster cast has been removed, just two weeks before she appears in The Likes of Us.

The Westfield Infants School pupil will be one of 20 children appearing in the Leeds Premiere of the show.

“Izzy was so dejected when she thought that her broken arm might prevent her from going on stage,” said her mother, Debbie. “Fortunately, she’s had her cast removed now so she’s okay to go on stage, although doctors have told her not to put too much stress on her arm.”

“I’ve had to learn to do moves on stage whilst being in a pot,” said Izzy, “but I’m really excited about being on stage.”

A host of family members and friends will be there to watch Izzy and her 11-year-old brother Jack on stage, including a grandmother who is planning a 100-mile round-trip from Richmond to see the Guiseley Amateur Operatic Society Production.

The show will run at Guiseley Theatre from Monday to Saturday, October 26 to 31, with performances staring at 7.30pm. There will be a Saturday matinee at 2.15pm Tickets from £8-£10 are available from the box office on 0845 3705045.