October 26, 2023

Festive fun for debut director

A festive farce at a seaside theatre is unwrapping a special Christmas treat for its young director … 22 years since she flitted onto its stage as a butterfly.

Katie Thompson was just four when she first spread her wings as a performer in a youth production of Wally The Worm at Sheringham Little Theatre.

Now, aged 26 she has just graduated with a Masters degree in theatre direction at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

And her first professional directing job is back in her native North Norfolk in charge of a classic Christmas comedy, Alan Ayckbourn’s Season’s Greetings.

The show by the Little Theatre Players amateur dramatics group is a fundraiser for the venue, which is close to Katie’s heart, having “grown up” there due to strong family connections.

Mum Debbie is its theatre director, and dad Simon, a theatre studies tutor at Paston College, has directed many shows there from panto and musicals to serious drama and summer farces. Brother Sam, 24, who has also regularly appeared at the theatre, is currently doing a BA degree in acting at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School.

Katie, from Knapton near North Walsham, said: “I love theatre and being creative, and have been in lots of shows here, including as Christine in the Phantom of the Opera when I was 17. But I was not always the most confident person on stage.

“When I went to ‘uni’ I did a directing module and realised that was for me. I have seen dad do it, and watched some other great directors at work when I stage managed the summer shows here.

“I love coming up with a vision for a show, and working with the actors to bring it alive, find the essence behind the story, and keep it moving at the right pace. There’s a lot of hard work before, during and after rehearsals.”

Her first “pro” job is particularly tough as the play has a large nine-strong cast and a clever plot which finds the humour among a dysfunctional family gathering at Christmas.

The characters and cast are: Neville, Ray Tempesta; Belinda, Hannah Smith; Phyllis, Sarah Westlake; Harvey, Steve Tuck; Bernard, David Robinson; Rachel, Charlotte Caldwell; Eddie, Tony Waeland; Pattie, Annabel Tyrrell and Clive, Tom Lloyd.

Once Season’s Greetings is over Katie heads to Diss Corn Hall to direct its Cinderlla panto running from December 16-31.

Season’s Greetings runs from November 16-18, 7.30pm nightly and a 2.30pm Saturday matinee. Tickets can be purchased here or through the box office on 01263 822347.

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