Summer season at Little Theatre

RICHARD BATSON The classic comedy Shirley Valentine, in which a stuck-in-a rut housewife transforms her humdrum life during a trip to Greece, is the curtain raiser for Sheringham Little Theatre's summer repertory season.

RICHARD BATSON

A cocktail of summer drama in north Norfolk begins with a dash of holiday romance on the rocks.

The classic comedy Shirley Valentine, in which a stuck-in-a rut housewife transforms her humdrum life during a trip to Greece, is the curtain raiser for Sheringham Little Theatre's summer repertory season.

But there is also a thriller, ironic comedy, farce and the wit of Noel Coward in the season which starts on Monday and runs through to mid September.


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A little bit of medical drama is also added to the mix, with opening show director Des Barrit battling back to a busy career on stage and screen having been sidelined by some diabetes-related foot surgery.

The well-known actor and director, whose work ranges from pantomime dame to top Shakespeare and Broadway productions, was sporting special footwear on his return to Sheringham.

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It stopped him playing in the Merry Wives of Windsor with Judi Dench at Stratford, but has seen him bounce back with a part in the Midsomer Murders TV series, as a double killer. He is also appearing in the forthcoming star-studded Twelfth Night at Houghton Hall in North Norfolk next month then touring with the History Boys.

"It has not as much of a problem as people imagine," said Mr Barrit. Repertory, however, continued not to have a healthy prognosis elsewhere in the country, due to the continuing closure of smaller theatres, but he said Sheringham's successful seaside venue was ideal for a summer season.

Its artistic director Debbie Thompson said it was only made possible by the support given by local volunteers, as well as businesses, who were currently being visited by helpers with a long list of "prop" requirements.

Repertory has been running at Sheringham without a break since the 1960s, but this is only the second year the theatre has run the season in-house, instead of hosting a touring company. The move paid off with 8,873 people visiting the shows last year, 20pc up on the previous summer.

This year's final play, Star Quality, also features local talent, from high school students to a pet dog.

Actress Lorraine Metcalfe, who takes the title role in Shirley Valentine, faces the daunting task of opening the season with a one-woman monologue.

And as she talks to the wall at home, and a rock in Greece, she has to bring a dozen other characters alive, men and women, with accents ranging from broad Liverpudlian to cut-glass English.

The shows in the season are:

Shirley Valentine - comedy by Willy Russell, July 9-17, August 1-7

The Business of Murder - psychological thriller, July 19-24, August 8-14

How the Other Half Loves - Alan Ayckbourn comedy, July 26-31, September 5-11

There Goes the Bride - Cooney and Chapman farce, August 16-28

Star Quality - Noel Coward's backstage mayhem, August 30-September 4, September 12-15.

Information and tickets through the box office on 01263 822347 (Mon-Sat, 10am-8pm) or www.sheringhamlittletheatre.com.

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