'Shining light' of local theatre to be remembered with special tribute show
- Credit: Aylsham Players/Max Hilton
The "shining light" of a north Norfolk amateur dramatics society will be at the forefront of a special tribute production in her memory.
Aylsham Players’ next production will be celebrating its lifetime president, Becky Hilton, who died in October 2020.
Entitled Another Blinkin’ Variety Show, the event will feature extracts and excerpts from scripts and skits written by Mrs Hilton during her 20 years with the group.
Her son, Max Hilton, explained why now was the right time to put on the show.
“Although we were able to pay our respects after her passing, like many, we were limited by Covid restrictions in place at the time," he said.
"[We] have often talked about planning a bigger event to celebrate Becky's life and her work.
“We are delighted that the Aylsham Players have chosen this moment to present a special show full of joy, love, and laughter.”
An ensemble of performers will present Mrs Hilton’s original one-act comedy play, The Pageant, about a beauty competition on the Norfolk Broads. Audiences will also be treated to a never-before-seen literary work that includes an exclusive reading from Mrs Hilton's unfinished novel, Read The Label.
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Finally, the show will include a nod to artists in comedy, music, and drama who influenced her, such as ABBA, Eva Cassidy, and Victoria Wood.
Hosted by Norfolk-based performance poet Lewis Buxton, the society hopes that the variety evening will showcase the full breadth and depth of Mrs Hilton's abilities, an individual renowned for developing local talent. The next generation of young performers will be featured throughout the evening, with a special appearance from Sutton School of Dancing.
Sue Smith, Aylsham Players president, said: “Becky was talented in so many ways, not only as a writer and performer but outside in the wider community as well. If ever we had concerns in rehearsals, Becky was a ‘shining light' and when she walked in the door, she made you feel like everything would be okay.”
Players member Angela Arscott added: “Becky had such a great way of getting the best from people and encouraging them.
“She was such a kind and caring person and so generous with her time.”
Before moving to Norfolk in 1999, Mrs Hilton was born in Croydon and worked at London’s department store BIBA. She later moved into journalism working as a copywriter and features writer.
In East Anglia, she became a duty manager for the theatre company Curious Directive and worked as an occupational therapy assistant for Norfolk County Council. In her spare time, she directed multiple pantomimes and dramas for the Aylsham Players.
She also founded the Pocket Theatre club at the town’s John of Gaunt Infant and Nursery school and volunteered as an acting coach for Shining Lights at St John’s Church.
Mrs Hilton organised several fundraising events for the local area, notably the carnival princess competition and the Oktoberfest-style German night at Aylsham Town Hall. She presented a Victorian Music Hall evening at Bure Valley School in 2003, raising £450 for the Friends Association to go towards purchasing a state-of-the-art sound system. This enabled the school to host its own professional productions.
Following in the footsteps of Geoff Ashworth, she was named lifetime president after being a member of the Aylsham Players for over 20 years.
She died following a short illness at the age of 63.
Callum Adkins, a young actor who was inspired by Mrs Hilton, said: “I will never forget the confidence she gave me as a young boy.
"The amazing thing is I know there are many people she helped with this and that is such a credit to her. She had a real gift."
Another Blinkin’ Variety Show will be performed at Aylsham Town Hall on May 13 and 14. Tickets cost £12 and can be purchased from Barnwells Newsagents and Creative Lincs in Aylsham. Streaming tickets will be available for £10 via aylsham-players-another-blinkin-variety-show.eventbrite.co.uk. All proceeds will go towards securing the future of the Aylsham Players.