Amateur-dramatic group Sheringham Players still taking to the stage after 50 years

Sheringham Players director June Cooper with some of the costumes from the company's latest production, On The Razzle. Photo: Karen Bethell. Sheringham Players director June Cooper with some of the costumes from the company's latest production, On The Razzle. Photo: Karen Bethell.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014
7:00 AM

Amateur dramatic group Sheringham Players are celebrating their 50th anniversary with a special performance. Sabah Meddings spoke to founding member June Cooper about the last 50 years.

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The production

On the Razzle, a Tom Stoppard play, is two hours of slapstick, mistaken identities, misdirected orders and romantic complications. Sheringham’s Little Theatre will be transformed into the 1880s when it is performed on Wednesday June 11 to Saturday June 14. On the Razzle opened on September 18, 1981 at the Royal National Theatre in London, with Felicity Kendal switching genders to star as Christopher. Tickets are £10 available from the Sheringham Little Theatre box office on 01263 822347 or www.sheringhamlittletheatre.com or www.sheringham-players.org.uk

In her 50 years at the heart of Sheringham Players, 74-year-old June Cooper has been involved in more than 100 productions.

She began her seaside acting career in the group’s first production in 1954 as Elvira in Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit at Sheringham’s Little Theatre.

And now, preparing for the latest production 50 years later, Mrs Cooper is as excited as ever with her living room piled high with props and costumes in readiness of the troupe’s 137th play.

Mrs Cooper, who is a retired shopkeeper, said a life of living in the world of make believe had kept her young. She said: “It is a form of escapism for me. I couldn’t possibly speak out at the Women’s Institute but on stage it is totally different.”

Jane Hodson, Graham Blyth  and Brenda Williams. Picture: SubmittedJane Hodson, Graham Blyth and Brenda Williams. Picture: Submitted

Born in Lincolnshire, Mrs Cooper moved to Norfolk when her father was re-called into the army during the Second World War to train young troops.

After moving to London as a young adult, she returned to live in Aylmerton when she married and became interested in acting.

And when a group of friends decided to establish an acting group, Mrs Cooper joined with fellow -founding-member Julian High.

Over the years Sheringham Players has seen actors come and go, with some youngsters trying their hand at professional acting.

Sheringham Players in Blithe Spirit 1964Sheringham Players in Blithe Spirit 1964

And now Mrs Cooper concentrates most of her talents in directing, joined in the latest production by fellow director Mr High, 71.

“We have done some smashing plays, there are some very happy memories,” she said.

“The group becomes like family, if we didn’t keep as a tight bunch we couldn’t do it.” And in celebration of their golden anniversary, the group has reached out to former members to return for a reunion production, joined by fresh young talent.

One of the players’ newest members is Mrs Cooper’s grandson Izaak, 11, who will play the Ragamuffin in their latest production, On the Razzle.

Sheringham Players in Blithe Spirit 1964Sheringham Players in Blithe Spirit 1964

Mrs Cooper said: “My grandson loves to hear my stories and I promised him that one day he could come on to the stage with me.”

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