Last minute leading lady saves North Norfolk drama group

A leading lady saved the show for a north Norfolk drama group in more ways than one as her last minute casting also saved its players from a final curtain call.

Bernie Alexandrou stepped in to play the lead role of Beverley in Stage Direct's performance of Abigail's Party after Michelle Warner, who was originally due to play the well-known protaganist, fell ill and unfortunately had to withdraw.

Her acceptance of the role not only ensured the show could go on but also secured Stage Direct's future as costs incurred by a lost performance would have caused the group to fold.

Director Derek Bull immediately thought to call Ms Alexandrou as she had performed as Beverley in the group's previous production of the Mike Leigh play in 2003.

He said: 'We had about ten rehearsals left and it's a huge, very difficult part. It helped that she'd done it before because she knew what the character was like, but that doesn't make you remember the lines.'

The last five weeks of rehearsals proved to be enough for the reshaped cast and their three performances at the Granary Theatre in Wells over the weekend went without a hitch.

'Bernie did very well. I think through the three performances she had about three prompts, which was excellent,' Mr Bull added. 'We'd have cancelled no doubt about it (had she not stepped in). We can't afford to increase our insurance to cover cancellations so that would have wiped us out.

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'If it hadn't had gone on that would have been it.'

But Beverley was not the only role Ms Alexandrou had to learn as when she accepted the part she was also - and still is - in the middle of rehearsals for the Sheringham Players' latest production, Caramba's Revenge, which opens next month.

The 52-year-old primary school teacher said: 'It has been pretty hectic. On a Thursday night I would start off at Caramba's Revenge from 7pm - 8pm then rush round and did Abigail's Party until about 10pm.

'I must admit it was easier to learn this time round than it was last, it must have been stuck there in my subconscious.'

Ms Alexandrou now has three weeks of rehearsals before the curtain goes up on Caramba's Revenge and is perfecting her Australian accent for her part in the black comedy, which runs at the Little Theatre for three nights from November 17.

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