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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.
Priscilla: Queen of the Desert - The Musical
Director - Ben Francis
Musical Director - Helen Cowie
Choreographer - Georgia Millan
Production Manager - Sophie Blanks
Dance Captains - Nathan White
3rd to 7th October 2017
at Dereham Memorial Hall
Based on the classic 1994 film. The West End and Broadway hit Musical tells the story of two drag queens and a transgender woman, who contract to perform a drag show at a resort in Alice Springs. As they head west from Sydney aboard their lavender bus, Priscilla, the three friends come to the forefront of a comedy of errors, encountering a number of strange characters, as well as incidents of homophobia, while widening comfort zones and finding new horizons. Featuring the classic hits 'Venus', 'Hot Stuff', 'I Say a Little Prayer', 'Boogie Wonderland', and many more.
NODA Review, Tuesday October 3rd 2017, Terry Rymer (NODA East Region 6 Rep)
Ambitious? Yes !... Brave? Definitely!... Controversial? Not any more!... Dereham are to be congratulated for grasping the nettle and taking the opportunity to produce the Norfolk premiere of this show which has gained cult status on the world stage. It is now ‘of its time’ and can be viewed in a relaxed open culture where LGBT issues are part of everyday life and conversation. That said it is still a strong piece which perhaps should have a PG warning if only for the language which is up front and may be considered strong if it was a TV show!
All that having been said this was a show that showed the versatility of this Company with strength in depth for the range of characters to portray the varied roles available. Now the first and foremost of these is Bernadette (Paul Ellingford) who one could be forgiven for thinking was of professional stature. His persona of the transgender member (excuse the pun!) of the group was exceptional. Every nuance of his behaviour captured the detail and emotion of his character. He was the mainstay of the action and how lucky Dereham were to find him living locally and presenting at auditions for this show! He was superb. He was matched by a younger travelling companion who also showed style and enthusiasm in the part of Adam/Felicia (Joshua Lee) who at the tender age of 19 was able to convey the arrogance of youth and the reckless need to prove his ability to succeed as a Drag artist. The travelling trio were brought together by Tick /Mitzi Mitosis (Lee Johnson) who was the archetypal Aussie but with a slightly uncertain bent towards his own gender, and a mixed feeling toward his previous ‘straight’ relationship from which he had a son who was very much on his mind as he accepted an invitation from his seemingly supportive ex wife to visit their Alice Springs home and to perform his Drag Show for the local population. Enter the real star of this piece, the unlikely method of transport, a rather worse for wear bus which they named ‘Priscilla’, which was to be their home and dressing room on this unlikely tour. Now here Dereham had showed the truly remarkable feat of building a stage extension sufficient to accommodate an almost full size omnibus which could be turned completely round to provide the necessary background and set for the various scenes as they journeyed through the outback. Suffice it to say they met many shall we say typically Australian residents en route and each and every one of them performed with an enthusiastic zeal which complemented the central theme of the relationships amongst our intrepid trio. The well observed interactions, personal confessions and emotional outpourings were a joy to observe and quality of singing of the well chosen popular numbers was of a high standard with a well balanced band (in a separate room!) supporting the renditions. For me the whole story was enhanced by a group of silver clad Divas who really popped up with alarming frequency to ‘narrate’ and develop the storyline, and whose vocal abilities were outstanding as each of them featured in solos and harmony worthy of an individual mention; (Emma Galley, Chloe Hunter, Laura Marvell-James, Cathy Wilson.). The story comes to an emotional end as they reach their destination and Tick meets his son and forms a paternal bond as Bernadette finds true love with Bob, (Kevin Reeve), the gruff Aussie mechanic with a softer side and a decent Aussie accent! The accent also well delivered with true style by the brash but sympathetic Marion (Andrea Wilson) always happy to banter with the boys! There were many moments to savour and none less than the moving finale when Tick meets his son
Benji (double casting of Milo Milton and Thomas Wilson-Gotobed) in a lovely father and son bonding as Tick fulfils his sons fantasy to hear his dad sing an Elvis classic which to be fair would not win an Elvis competition but the moment was so riveting that it brought a tear to the eye…”uh huh!” . I can only hope they all lived ‘happily ever after’…Hmm, (Scope for a sequel ?) …well busses always turn up together!... Add to this an ensemble of glamorous like minded ‘Busettes’ suitably attired strutting their stuff throughout with other ensemble members doubling up as various ‘outback’ residents with barely a cork in sight !
This was a super show with so much to savour, and no doubt discuss, over a pint of Fosters (other lagers are available!). Well done to Dereham, we look forward to the next equally challenging show next year as they tackle another slightly controversial blockbuster ‘The Producers’… Also on the cards is the smash hit ‘Cats’ from DOSYTCO IN April from the younger youth branch of this progressive Society. Keep up the good work…your audiences await !