March 21, 2023

Hobson’s Choice – to be a man of many parts

Evergreen amateur actor Peter Howell is about to step into the shoes of a cantankerous comedy character from a Victorian boot business family.

It comes just three weeks after he played a diva-ish doyen of an “am dram” group whose nose is put out of joint by a Hollywood star taking his role as King Lear.

The dramatic switch happens on stage at Sheringham Little Theatre which is staging Hobson’s Choice from March 23-25.

Peter is playing Henry Hobson, a controlling and hard-drinking boot and shoe shop boss, who has mapped out the futures for his three daughters. But they have other ideas, particularly the eldest, Maggie, who sets up a rival shoe venture to outwit Henry and give him some difficult “Hobson’s Choice“ decisions.

In February Peter played Nigel Dewbury in A Bunch of Amateurs – a character, set in modern times, who combines his passion for local theatre with his job as a lawyer, which mirrors Peter’s own life, until he retired as a chartered legal executive last April, giving him more time for his love of the stage.

“Some people said Nigel was me with knobs on, which was a bit unkind! But it was not a difficult role to get into.

“They are both comedies, but so different. A Bunch of Amateurs was more of a belly laughs show, whereas Hobson’s is subtler. Playing such different characters is one of the joys of theatre.

“I have been learning two scripts at once, which I have done before, but there are a lot of lines for Hobson, who loves the sound of his own voice. And, because the roles are so different, mixing them up hasn’t been a problem.”

Peter, from Coltishall who celebrates his 69th birthday just after Hobson’s finishes, also had to grow a beard for his new period role, so it can be trimmed back to Victorian whiskers.

In complete contrast his next role is in the chorus of Evita on Cromer Pier, opening on May 27, staged by the Cromer and Sheringham Operatic and Dramatic Society, who did A Bunch of Amateurs.

“After that I may well have a bit of a rest,” he added.

Hobson’s Choice runs from Thursday March 23 to Saturday March 25 at 7.30pm. For tickets click here or call the box office on 01263 822347.

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