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Talented youngsters perform Great War musical drama

Young actors have stepped back in time to the First World War for a musical drama about conflict and comradeship – on the battlefield and in their home town.

The Battle of Boat looks at the friendships and tensions among youngsters in a seaside community as their friend goes off to fight for king and country.

The cast, mostly aged between 16 and eight, are from the Sheringham Little Theatre’s youth group. They have been putting the finishing touches to the drama ahead of opening night this Thursday (September 22).

An all-action script, brimming with powerful music, looks at how the teenagers’ desire to join their soldier friend sees them try recruitment, an air ship and a home-made boat – amid opposition from a suspicious rival gang.

The show, directed by the experienced Adrian Connell, runs from September 20-22 (7.30pm and Saturday 2.30pm matinee). Tickets and information from 01263 822347 or www.sheringhamlittletheatre.com.

Youngsters rehearsing The Battle of Boat.
PICTURE: RICHARD BATSON

 

REVIEW: Don’t Dress for Dinner, Sheringham Rep

The Summer Rep season at Sheringham Little Theatre is always a delight of treats throughout August and this year is no exception.

Don’t Dress for Dinner launched the summer season at Sheringham Little Theatre on Thursday, July 26, and shows now run until September 5.

Set in the French countryside two hours from Paris, Don’t Derss for Dinner is a fast-moving, hilarious, typical farce, full of double meanings, mistaken identities and amorous intentions. The story centres on a married couple and a weekend where they are both intending to spend the time with their respective lovers, unknown to each others.

Into the mix comes the cook, Suzette (Lauren Verrier), whom Bernard (Steve Banks) has employed for the evening while he is entertaining his lover Suzanne (Sarah Langton). His wife, Jaqueline (Naomi Bullock), was meant to be visiting her mother but was secretly spending time with her lover, Robert (Matt Jamie). Plans go awry and they all end up in the same house trying to keep their respective secrets, which results in hilarious confusion and sharp banter.

A very entertaining and fun evening which the audience enjoyed and appreciated. If you have missed this production there are more to come from the rep company at Sheringham Little Theatre.

Kevin and Sandra Stone

 

 

 

REVIEW: Cromer Summer Show

The summer show at the Cromer Pier pavilion opened with fast-moving fun and plenty of laughs.

The show runs for 14 weeks from opening night giving audiences a unique experience  of the only end of the pier variety show in the world.

This year, in the shows 41st year, compere is comedian and impressionist Steve Terry. The jokes came thick and fast and he had the audience joining in, all in good humour.

The show dancers are legendary and always give a magical performance, very skilful and fast moving. The children from the Marlene school of dance were charming as ever in their performances.

Vocalists are Emily Yarrow, who is in her sixth year of performing in the summer show, and newcomer Harvey James. Emily’s lovely voice shone in songs ranging from pop to opera, which shows why she is so popular. harvey has a powerful voice and sang a very moving version of Anthem from the musical Chess.

The comedy is provided by a young man called simply “G”. He has so many voices in his repertoire that its like a whole show in one man – he is very funny. Illusionists Zooka and Suzie Q are a fast-moving duo who amaze. Suzie Q is suspended in air with no visible means of support. How do they do that? The scenery and lighting, as usual are out of this world, along with the marvellous costumes and music. A show not to be missed.

The show runs until September 22. See www.cromerpier.co.uk

 Kevin and Sandra Stone

Pictures: Dave (Hubba) Roberts and Andreas Yiasimi

Gretel takes a new direction at Sheringham Little Theatre

Directing a drama is a tick on the “bucket list” of battling cancer patient Gretel Brice.
She is at the helm of a youth musical production of the classic story Little Women, an empowering tale of a strong mum fighting adversity to bring up her daughters.
And, with her own daughters Megan and Matilda in the cast at theatres in Sheringham and Great Yarmouth, the show is a poignant and inspirational one for the family, as well as other people with cancer.
Gretel, 49, has had a busy 30-year career in social services, mental and alternative health,and followed her passion for music and dance as a teacher.
But, while running her own complementary health business, a diagnosis of advanced ovarian cancer in March last year, saw her become a patient rather than a healer.
Her treatment included losing many organs in a life-saving 10-hour operation plus four months of chemotherapy.
“It was tough. I lost my hair, eyebrows and eyelashes, and my whole body felt as if it was being poisoned but I was not prepared to lie in bed and suffer,” said Gretel, who lives near Happisburgh.
“I gardened my way through the impacts of chemo to push it through my system and alleviate the symptoms more quickly,” she explained.
As Gretel got stronger, friend Debbie Thompson, director of Sheringham Little Theatre, asked her to chaperone youngsters at the panto.
It led to Gretel choreographing a youth production of Bugsy Malone this spring, and now to direct Little Women from July 5-7. She also teaches dance and drama at St George’s Theatre, Great Yarmouth, where the show will be staged on July 8.
“I was still in pain through Bugsy and have suffered some memory loss through the chemo – so remembering the dance steps meant extra work and lots of determination,” said Gretel.
“But dancing makes my soul dance, and the more I did it, the easier it became. It has been therapeutic – physically, mental and emotionally – and has rebuilt my confidence.”
Book tickets at www.sheringhamlittletheatre.com, 01263 822347.

PICTURE: RICHARD BATSON

REVIEW: Sister Act, Cromer Pavilion Theatre

What a show, what talent, fantastic costumes, lighting, seamless scene changes and superb choreography.

There are not enough words to describe this wonderful production of Sister Act by Cromer and Sheringham Operatic and Dramatic Society, which runs at Cromer Pavilion Theatre until June 2.

The opening gala night on May 26 was packed with an audience expecting the best of shows and they were rewarded with a dazzling display of talented actors and musicians.

The musical is set in Philadelphia USA in December 1978 and follows the fortunes of a nightclub singer, Deloris Van Cartier, after she witnesses her gangster boyfriend shooting one of his gang.

Deloris reports this to the police who then decide to keep their witness safe by hiding her in a convent. Deloris is played by Claire Reynolds Chandler who, with electric presence, is the raunchy, ambitious singer with a soft and vulnerable side.

Her entry into the convent and her shaking up of the nuns’ choir leads to some hilarious moments, not to mention some amazing choreography and singing.

The Mother superior, Amanda Howell, is very dignified trying to keep control of her order. Sister Mary Lazarus, Carol Beatty, and sister Mary Patrick, Selina White, are the mischievous  ringleaders of the nun’s revolution. Deloris’ love interest Eddy, Paul James, is a very sensitive cop. The most hilarious scene in the show is the song Lady in the Long Black Dress, performed by Joey, TJ and Pablo (Graham Woodrow, Neil Robertson and Robin Taylor), had the audience in tears of laughter.

The most surprising new talent that shone was Charlotte Drewell, who was Sister Mary Robert. She commanded the stage in her song and caught the heart of the show. Sister Act is a show not to be missed and you leave smiling. What more can be said.

Kevin and Sandra Stone

Firsts for Holt Festival

The full 10th anniversary programme for Holt Festival 2018 has just been announced.
The festival brings outstanding theatre, music, comedy, literature, talks, children’s and visual art events to the town for eight days, from July 21-29.
For the 10th anniversary year Stash Kirkbride has taken the helm as artistic director, and has delivered a programme that combines the best of national and international talents with the cream of Norfolk performers.
Introducing the programme Stash said: “It is said that if a festival can make it to its 10th year then it has truly arrived, and having long admired the achievements of Holt Festival I am thrilled and honoured to be invited to assemble the 2018 programme. I hope it does justice to the fabulous legacy left by my predecessors Tony Britten, Delaval Astley and Charles Pugh.”
Major new announcements include a Norfolk Day special appearance by the county’s best loved, most popular and rudest(!) comedy duo The Nimmo Twins (pictured). Making their first appearance at the festival the Nimmo’s outrageously hilarious and hugely popular Normal for Norfolk shows have entertained sell-out crowds for over 20 years. Two major exhibitions put Holt firmly on the international art map. A world-first exhibition of the paintings of one of Norfolk’s best loved adopted sons, Sir John Hurt, will show just how accomplished a painter he was. Another exclusive sees letters from George Orwell to his Southwold lover on public display for the first time ever. Leading political figures will also be in Holt to discuss their lives and careers with well known TV and radio presenters.
Box office: 01603 598699 or online at www.holtfestival.org

John Hurt as Artist is the first exhibition anywhere in the world of the late screen legend’s paintings (above). Sir John Hurt painted all his life. Aged 17, he attended The Grimsby Art School (now the East Coast School of Art and Design) and in 1959 won a scholarship to St Martin’s School of Art (now Central Saint Martin’s) in London. Most of the paintings in the exhibition have been loaned by his wife, Lady Anwen Hurt, who said: “He took art every bit as seriously as he took his acting career.”

Adrian in the saddle for Edinburgh Fringe

Norfolk Youth Musical Theatre director Adrian Connell is taking to his bike to fund ths group’s latest visit to a national theatre festival.
He is currently nearing his target of raising £1,500 to enable the group to take its production of Battle of Boat’ to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Adrian will be completing a fundraising cycle ride from Sheringham to Norwich (37 miles) on Sunday, May 27.
He currently has £964 towards his target.
He said: “All of the cast members have paid for their own accommodation and travel and we are now trying to raise money to pay for venue hire, royalties, radio mics, printing and all the other additional costs associated with putting on a show at the Fringe. They have raised most of it but are £1500 short. Please help me help them to achieve their target.”
Charlie Windle (13), from Norwich, who plays the part of Beagle, did a similar bike ride for 25 miles and raised £472 for the trip. Also Mabel White (11), from Aylsham, who plays Florance, did a bake off at her primary school and raised £54. Both are going to Edinburgh. The group also raised £1,046 at a quiz nigh towards the total needed of £2,500. “So we are nearly there, about £500 to go,” said Adrian.
He added: “I am astonished by the amount of support I have received. I thought the ride would get around £200/£300 but so far people from local choirs, friends who have seen shows and many people who were involved in it have donated.”
Norfolk Youth Music Theatre first performed The Battle of Boat at the Maddermarket Theatre in Norwich in November.
It is a new musical set in a seaside town on the English south coast in 1916. The carefree happiness of a group of young children is short-lived as they find themselves discovering more and more about the First World War that is unfolding around them.
It was written by Jenna Donnelly and Ethan Lewis Maltby, who have been writing together for several years, creating original cinematatic musicals.
Adrian, the former head of music at Broadland High School, started Norfolk YMT in 1995, seeing scores of youngsters getting the chance to perform well-known and more obscure musicals on stage. It’s now his 23rd year and he has directed more than 70 shows. He has been teaching piano privately since he was 19.
He said he enjoys cycling but said: “I like cycling along flats, rolling downhill and walking uphill. I take my bike to Derbyshire and do some tracks and also the bike will go to Edinburgh for some rides around North Berwick.”
As for training, he says: “Whichever way you leave Sheringham you start with an hour uphill. You’re knackered before you start!”
People can donate via JustGiving Crowdfunding Page at www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/adrians-fundraising-cycle-ride. Also see more at www.norfolkymt.net.

 

REVIEW: Habeas Corpus, Maddermarket

Norwich Players gave the audience a lot of laughs as they performed Alan Bennett’s Habeas Corpus at The Maddermarket Theatre.

The play is set in the middle-class, respectable seaside town of Hove in the late 1960s. The action takes place in and around the home of Arthur Wicksteed, a general practitioner played by Trevor Burton, and his wife Murie,l played by Gill Tichborne. The couple have a son Dennis, a sexually repressed hypochondriac, played by Laurence Grunbaum. The sexual revolution of the 1960s has passed the Wicksteeds by, but a hint of what they perceive as the permissive society is drifting in to the folk in and around the family. The doctor has a mental battle with what he sees as his professional life and his natural randy instincts. The result is a romp through the hang-ups of respectable people losing their dignity and also their trousers in the style of a good farce.

The audience enjoyed and applauded the bumbling celibate cleric, the flat-chested spinster, the pompous Sir Percy, the sales representative of false breast enlargements and the old colonial lady and her attractive young daughter. Linking all the characters together is Mrs Swabb, played by Jude Wyatt, who knows all their secrets and weaknesses.

Kevin and Sandra Stone