June 11, 2024

Hall high jinks set scene for summer

It’s just a musketeer sword-fighting with a baguette on a stately home drawbridge and riding a child’s scooter next to the moat. Nothing to see here!

The madcap scenes at Mannington Hall – which gave the visiting postman a bit of a shock – are all in a day’s work for the Little Theatre. It was photoshoot day to promote our upcoming summer drama season – and, just like the repertory season it showcases, we had a couple of actors playing multiple roles.

Ryan Starling was the musketeer, as well as a private detective and ghostly figure. Loraine Metcalfe was a housekeeper and housewife.

Little Theatre favourite Loraine, by the way, is also polishing another demanding summer role in a one-woman Shirley Valentine show on June 27-29 which she is kindly doing for free as a fundraiser for our venue.

Mannington, which is the home of our honorary patron Lady Walpole, provided the perfect backdrop with a variety of settings from an historic hearth to a traditional tea room.

Our visit raised our levels of excitement for the season ahead, but it was also a chance to “recce” the venue for staging and electrics ahead of our for upcoming summer concerts – the Lee Vasey Big Band picnic party on July 12 and HMS Pinafore by Opera Anywhere the following day.

The summer dramas at the theatre, three comedies and a thriller, are: The Three Musketeers (July 30- August 7); Turn of the Screw (August 9-14); It’s Her Turn Now (August 16-24) and Relatively Speaking (August 27-31).

Several of our summer cast of 10 actors will be appearing in two or three plays – which is the essence of summer “”repertory” theatre, and what makes it such a great training ground for performers as they learn to play multiple characters in a short time.

We have been running “summer rep” for more than 50 years now, and are proud that we are one of the few remaining seaside theatres doing so.

To make things a little easier for the cast of the final play Relatively Speaking, and prevent them getting too frazzled at the end of the season, we held a recent “read through” with them in London during a day combined with some successful auditions for pantomime princes and princesses, showing how far ahead we have to plan.

But we also have talent closer to home in our local community – and even among our staff – as we have been discovering at new monthly karaoke sessions held in the Hub.

Our finance wizard Stephen “Fozzie” Foster not only MCs the fun free-entry events but has been known to do his own party piece as rapper Vanilla Ice singing Ice Ice Baby, complete with all “the moves.” The next one is on Friday July 5 at 8pm, and it’s your chance to show you can be as cool as our ice man.


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