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Actor returns to Norfolk stage where he first appeared aged eight

Olly Westlake brushing up on his lines for Sheringham Little Theatre'’s summer drama season. 
Picture: Richard Batson.

Olly Westlake brushing up on his lines for Sheringham Little Theatre'’s summer drama season. Picture: Richard Batson.

Archant

A newly-qualified actor is waiting in the wings to make his summer drama debut back home on a stage where he first appeared as an eight-year-old.

Now 22, Olly Westlake, from Southrepps, plays teenager Leonard in the farce Wife Begins at Forty during Sheringham Little Theatre’s summer season.

Fourteen years ago he stood on the same stage playing a child in a gritty amateur dramatics production of Shadowlands, with his mother played by his real-life mum Sarah.

He said: “Mum used to do a lot of drama with a theatre company so I was brought up with the stage. I went to a Sheringham youth drama group when I was seven and just loved it.”

He played the Artful Dodger in Oliver, was a Lost Boy in Peter Pan, and became Balou the bear in a youth production of The Jungle Book. At Paston College he decided to make acting his career.

While at East 15 drama school in London, he learned method acting by experiencing the harsh life of a Soviet gulag labour camp worker.

He said: “I was locked in a cage for three days, spent nine hours a day digging, and ate just a bowl of soup. We lived like that for two weeks.”

During drama school holidays he returned to Sheringham to play Will Scarlett in the Little Theatre’s Robin Hood panto.

He added: “I am really looking forward to it.”

Theatre director Debbie Thompson said: “We are proud of our youth theatre work, and our summer drama season – so it is especially thrilling when a former member of our youth cast returns here as a professional actor setting out on his career.”

The professional cast are John Macneill (George), Emily Outred (Linda), Matt Jamie (Roger), Sarah Langton (Betty), and young North Norfolk actors Olly Westlake (Leonard) and Ryan Starling (Bernard).

Stage comedy king Ray Cooney’s farce opens on Wednesday, August 22, and runs until Wednesday, August 29.

The last drama in the theatre’s summer season is the comedy A Passionate Woman (August 31-September 5).

Tickets and information from 01263 822347 or www.sheringhamlittletheatre.com

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