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Actors on song for fun and fundraising

The cast of Quartet, from left, Ann Stockwell, Rob Fradley-Wilde, Madeleine Hudson and Graham Blyth. Picture: SHERINGHAM LITTLE THEATRE PLAYERS

The cast of Quartet, from left, Ann Stockwell, Rob Fradley-Wilde, Madeleine Hudson and Graham Blyth. Picture: SHERINGHAM LITTLE THEATRE PLAYERS

Archant

Four amateur actors are raising their voices as opera stars to raise money for the Sheringham Little Theatre.

Quartet is the funny but poignant story of three opera singers, Reggie, Wilf and Cissie, who are living in a retirement home for performers.

Their peaceful life is shattered when a fourth opera singer, and Reggie’s ex-wife, arrives. Jean is a diva who can out-diva any diva in the history of opera.

The four-strong cast are all experienced actors – but are now learning to sing opera, taking them well out of their comfort zone, for the production which runs at the theatre later in March.

Madeline Hudson and Ann Stockwell have an additional challenge. Madeline usually sings the alto line and Ann usually sings soprano, but in this play they have to swap.

The male members of the cast, Graham Blyth and Rob Fradley-Wilde, have never sung opera, so it’s a very steep learning curve for them all.

In the storyline, past tensions are stirred up, accusations and recriminations abound. They are forced to face their past and deal with issues that have been deliberately forgotten for many years.

Things are brought to a head when the four find they are expected to sing the Quartet from Verdi’s Rigoletto for the retirement home’s fundraising concert. Although they have sung the classic work together in the past, Jean absolutely refuses to sing.

Will they be able to persuade her to sing with them, or will they have to sing something else? Life is complicated by Cissie’s forgetfulness, a vindictive nurse, visits to Karachi and a jar of lime marmalade.

Ruth Elliott, director, said: “The four actors have had a herculean task, as not only have they had to learn the songs, and deliver the cleverly-worded, and at times hilarious script without laughing - but they have also had to delve deep to portray the pain and frustration that the characters feel.”

Quartet is a Little Theatre Players production and will be on from Thursday, March 21 to Saturday, March 23 at the Sheringham Little Theatre. Tickets £12. For more information, visit sheringhamlittletheatre.com.

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