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Lowestoft Players celebrate long history of trying something new

PUBLISHED: 17:22 23 May 2015

Lowestoft Players Aspects of Love

Lowestoft Players Aspects of Love

Scenic Projects

When the curtain goes up on the Lowestoft Players production of Legally Blonde, it will be the first time the musical has graced the amateur stage in East Anglia.

Legally Blonde Dress Rehearsal at the BethelLegally Blonde Dress Rehearsal at the Bethel

But the company has a long history of daring to bring something new to the region.

The Players have staged seven East Anglian firsts, and Players Ambasador Bob Dickson, 73, said venturing into new ground adds a touch of excitement.

“At the most basic level the award of a premiere confers distinction on the company,” he said.

“And as a completely new show, any premiere will present a challenging opportunity for a director to make their mark on the production.

“How do you translate a show like Titanic from Broadway to the amateur stage? How on earth do you handle an iceberg, let alone a sinking ocean liner?”

Luckily by the time Titanic came around in 2005, the Players had a few premieres already under their belt.

Back in 1980 they put on Irene, directed by Martin Wilson and Val Byde.

Costumes were hired direct from the West End run - exciting for all cast members except Stephen Wilson, playing couturier Madam Lucy.

The jacket worn in London had been tailored for John Pertwee and their difference in height meant Mr Wilson had to substitute it for one of his own.

At the time, the Players were performing in Sparrow’s Nest, and all the sets were transported on an open lorry from Stradbroke Road, arriving with rather less glitter than they had started with.

Despite its challenges, Irene was a success and inspired the 1985 premiere of Hans Anderson - which also hired the full set of customers direct from the London Palladium at an enormous cost of £3,000, although the Players did still make a profit.

By 2003 the company had settled into its new home, the Marina Theatre, and put on the Scarlet Pimpernel directed by Karen Carter.

Mr Dickson, of Elm Tree Road in Lowestoft said: “The need for long bouts of furious swordplay was such as to require tuition by an expert fencing coach if the Players were to survive the experience - they all did!”

This was followed by a double whammy in 2005, with Titanic and Summer Holiday.

And when it came to the iconic sinking scene, the Players used a tilting stage cranked by the backstage crew each night, and won a National Operatic and Dramatic Association (NODA) Best Production Award for their efforts.

Most recently tap-dancing extravaganza Thoroughly Modern Milly came to the Marina in 2007 directed by Stephen Wilson and John Marjoram.

Leading lady Lauren Major, who had just turned 17, would go on to win a NODA Best Youth Performer for her role as the title character.

Hoping to emulate the success of premieres past is number eight, Legally Blonde, which opens on Tuesday, June 2 with Polly Woodward in the lead role of Elle Woods.

Mr Dickson, who is also collecting the history of the Lowestoft Players ahead of their Golden Jubilee in 2017, said:” In keeping with the Players’ demonstration over so many years of consistent quality against constant change, the standard continues to evolve to meet the challenge - go and see it!”

Legally Blonde runs from June 2 to 6, 7.30pm each day with a Saturday matinee at 2.30pm. Call the box office on 01502 533 200 for tickets.

Are you organising a community event? Tell The Journal by calling 01502 525820 or email polly.grice@archant.co.uk

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