Theatre usher from Hunstanton set to stage his own play

For 10 years Tobias Nicholls worked behind the scenes at the Princess Theatre in Hunstanton.

Working his way up from casual staff to assistant manager, he has done everything from running the theatre kiosk, showing people to their seats to lighting and backstage work.

But the 30-year-old will take centre stage himself this month when his play has a two-day run at the Hunstanton venue.

Mr Nicholls will also be directing and acting in his modern-day murder mystery, Persona.

'I love acting,' he said. 'There is that thing that you get to be someone else. It is a different world.

'From the producing point of view there is that adrenaline rush. If you want the audience to laugh, if they laugh, you have succeeded. On the drama side of things, you sometimes don't get an instant reaction, but then the audience might gasp if there is something shocking.'

Mr Nicholls was recently made redundant when the lease for the Princess Theatre management was handed over from West Norfolk Council to C and R Cinemas, but now works for Majestic Cinema in King's Lynn.

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He decided to hire the theatre and his parents have backed the play.

'It will be nice because I know all the staff and a lot of the customers', he said. 'I have been in a theatre atmosphere for the last 10 years,' he said. 'Some people finish school and they do not have that any more.'

Mr Nicholls is also part of a number of drama groups in Hunstanton, where he has lived since he was eight-years-old.

The former Smithdon High School student said he has been writing plays since his mid-teens.

'When I got into drama, I found I had a talent for play writing. When I did drama GCSE it was always me who wrote in the group,' he said.

He has won three best actor and three best original script awards at the Hunstanton Drama Festival over the years. Although he has tended to write sitcom-style plays in the past, with Persona he decided to do something completely different.

The story is about a night club called Purple Dreams, also the name of his drama group.

'It is a haven for runaways, where club owner Bob Drake offers work, a new identity and the chance of a new life,' he said. 'The arrival of a vengeful young man, however, soon threatens to expose the many secrets held within the club. A threat that drives someone to murder.'

'My plays tend to be a bit of everything,' he said. 'Actually sitting down and writing a play only takes me a week, but I do not write until I know everything I am going to write. I spend months thinking about the structure. I kind of run a movie trailer in my head. It's almost like I am trying to sell an idea to myself in my head.'

The 15-strong cast are all volunteering for the roles.

'It is the biggest thing I've done and it is different to what I normally do. It is going to be one of those plays where hopefully the audience will be thinking about it afterwards.'

Mr Nicholls' production group was formed in 1999. Many of the cast members are local, including John Wrigley, who plays Bob Drake, the club owner.

Persona will be at the Princess Theatre in Hunstanton on October 22 and 23 at 7.30pm. For tickets, call the Princess Theatre box office on 01485 532252 or the Corn Exchange box office on 01553 764864 or go to

Tickets cost �8 or �7 concession.

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