Dereham Theatre Company (formerly Dereham Operatic Society) is a charitable Trust and was formed in 1948 to offer the local community education and enlightenment in amateur dramatic arts. A very grand way of saying that we were formed to entertain the people of Dereham and Norfolk!
Our Shakespearian motto "Mere folk who give distraction are we" comes from Cole Porter's musical "Kiss Me Kate", which we first performed in 1970, and is based upon one of William Shakespeare's most famous plays "The Taming of the Shrew".
We stage three productions a year (not including the productions of our youth group) including a major musical in the autumn, a pantomime over the Christmas period and a play in the spring. There is something for everyone!
If you are looking to join one of the premier operatic and dramatic societies in Norfolk as either a performer (we actively encourage all whatever your ability or experience, whether you are a singer, an actor, dancer, or just enjoy being on stage), backstage helper, front of house staff or just looking to purchase some tickets for our next show ........ you need look no further; Welcome to our website.
Director - Trevor Thurston
Assistant Director - Lavinia Pirret
13th to 18th October 2015
at Dereham Memorial Hall
Publicity Photography by Helen Bailey
Performance Photography by Tony Wilds
Review by Ian Clarke, Eastern Daily Press Online, Tuesday March 17th 2015
Putting on a stage version of such a popular TV show as The Vicar of Dibley could be a double-edged sword for a group like Dereham Operatic Society.
On the plus side, its wide appeal will ensure bums on seats.
There is, of course, also the risk of the audience spending the whole time comparing the live production with the small screen version.
Well, as it turned out the company ended up with success on both fronts.
Ticket sales are the best for a spring play in DOS’ history and each show was sold out.
Calendar Girls and Blackadder have been huge hits in recent years - but the goings on in Dibley have proved even more of a draw.
In terms of comparisons with the TV stars, the cast did not disappoint.
Marea Smithson and Lee Johnson beautifully captured all the expressions and traits of dappy verger Alice Tinker and her sweetheart Hugo Horton.
Dawn French is a very tough act to follow in the lead role but Sarah Margree rose to the challenge admirably.
And the rest of the cast portrayed the other well-loved favourites very well.
The saucy jokes were in there as were Letita Cropley’s bizarre cookery treats, Owen’s bowel problems and of course Jim’s stutter.
The set moving between the parish hall and Vicarage was effective and the classical music between scenes added to the enjoyment of the show.
So was it a good production? No, no, no, no, absolutely yes
Review by Stephen P. E. Hayter, NODA Regional Representative Area 4 North
13th March 2015
Fawlty Towers, Hi De Hi, Blackadder, Are You Being Served … the choice of television spin off scripts is extensive and I have seen all of the aforementioned performed with varying degrees of success. Some Directors choose to go for impressions, whilst some don't, and some mix it up with a bit of each. Well to add to my list of titles I found myself returning to Dereham Memorial Hall at the behest of NODA Area 5 representative Susan Dupont for the Dereham Theatre Company’s production of Richard Curtis and Paul Mayhew Archer’s 'The Vicar Of Dibley.
Whilst I am never less than delighted to take my seat in Dereham (this time with Mrs Dupont at my side) I must confess to being less than a fan of the television programme in question. I always thought that it would have been significantly better without Dawn French and while she was messing around, everyone else seemed to be taking it far more seriously. Having said that the episodes I had seen always made me laugh, and unlike many of the other TV resurrections, this one was not a serious of episodes, but a selection of excerpts from episodes, crafted into one continuous story. Of the supporting cast … well just Julie Hewitt really.. as the “Woman” at the church and of course she was great, although not massively stretched in this 60 second walk on! All the other dialogue was shared around the main characters with only Jill Jarman as demented cook Letitia Cropley, and Colin Harris as pedantic minute taker, Frank Pickle getting slightly less than their fair share. This will prove to be a common theme across this review but Mr Harris’s impersonation of actor John Bluthal was absolutely pinpoint, and combined with his amazing comic timing, was a joy to watch.
In the slightly larger roles Mark Wells as frustrated farmer Owen Newitt and wonderful David Rees as stammering Jim Trott both delivered excellent characterisations and great impersonations. Particularly Mr Rees who had Trevor Peacock off pat and got the most out of every no.. no.. no.. no.. yes! Phil Sherwood may or may not have been doing an impression but it didn’t matter, either way as bland bully and oligarch David Horton he was solid throughout. Sarah Margree took the Geraldine Granger (Rev.) role and didn’t show any resemblance in voice or mannerism to Dawn French, which seemed a shame as just about everyone else had elected to do an imitation. She did however have a good physical likeness which helped, although even on this second night, one of the two prompts taken went her way. Having said that she held things together nicely and was carried along by the endless excellent perfomances.
Penultimate paragraph honours have to be shared by incredible Lee Johnson as Hugo Horton and amazing Marea Smithson as Alice Tinker, with both performers achieving near perfect impersonations and a level of stagecraft that was well worth the ticket price alone. I saw Mr Johnson as Edmund Blackadder and thought how lucky Dereham were to have found someone who looked and sounded like Rowan Atkinson. Now, after seeing him do James Fleet, I think he is simply a brilliant impressionist as well as a superb performer. The main thrust of the story was Hugo and Alice’s wedding and Mrs Smithson was perfection from start to finish.
Congratulations to Director Trevor Thurston for an excellent piece of direction and a good evening’s entertainment. With some of the titles I mentioned at the start, the question of whether to imitate or not is a debate. I left the theatre on this night thinking that perhaps the comedy in the script was so delicate and character based, it absolutely needed the original characterisations and the ghosts of actors past to make it work…..and it did work, almost all the way!