Local theatre groups hope to 'come back with bang' from autumn

Gorleston Theatre Company and Walsham Drama and Singing Group

Community theatre groups across Norfolk have discussed how the pandemic has impacted groups. - Credit: Gorleston Theatre Company/Oli Browning

Curtains look set to remain down for five more months for those involved in community theatre, but members have hope they will be "coming back with a bang" to delight crowds once again.

The lights have been dimmed on the theatre world, both professional and amateur for more than a year, with the first West End and Norfolk hoping to resume from May 17. 

The Gorleston Theatre Company will be performing A Sparkle in TimePicture: Jean Kinkaid

The Gorleston Theatre Company cast of the show A Sparkle in Time Picture: Jean Kinkaid

Due to restrictions on rehearsal spaces, uncertainty around audience numbers and confidence and the risk of making losses at a time of no income, many community groups are not set to tread the boards until autumn at the earliest.

For the New Taverham Players it will be Aladdin in the first week of December, with the cast in place and line readings taking place on Zoom to being with.

The company, which performs twice a year, including a musical in May, hopes 2022 is the year they can perform Sister Act - their 2020 musical - before it is unavailable for amateur groups to perform.


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Treasurer Chris Peach said: "It's all an unknown. 

"This feels more positive. The festival in Liverpool fills me with promise, and hope and excitement that live entertainment can get back to the levels we experienced in 2019."

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Applications to licence companies have been busy for 2022, which Mr Peach putting that down to companies wanting to come "back with a bang and a vengeance" after more than 18 months.

He added: "It hasn't killed off amateur theatre."

Walsham Drama and Singing Company's first and only staged production Streets from October 2019.

Walsham Drama and Singing Company's first and only staged production Streets from October 2019. - Credit: Oli Bowling

Walsham Drama and Singing Group, in North Walsham, was only a year old when the country went into lockdown but used technology to put on several shows created by members remotely to ensure they could socialise. 

Going forward, chairman Carmel Brown said they hope to put on a show in October, before adding: "We do not know about people's confidence. We couldn't risk putting it on, we need bums on seats."

Walsham Drama and Singing Company's first and only staged production Streets from October 2019.

Walsham Drama and Singing Company's first and only staged production Streets from October 2019. - Credit: Oli Bowling

Jeannie Kinkaid, chair of Gorleston Theatre Company, said the group was able to recoup much of the £4,500 it had invested in its show My Fair Lady, which was only a fortnight away from opening night last April.

Used to planning their programme years in advance, the company will begin auditioning for their Halloween themed panto Pantostein this Sunday. 

She hopes by October the cast can perform to a full capacity theatre.

She said; "We are just hoping there is not another lockdown. That would really hit us and it would be hard to come back.

"I do think some people will be a little bit wary of coming out."

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