Drama on and off stage at The Regent

AS regular readers among you will know, I have just finished treading the boards at the Ipswich Regent theatre in the musical Singin' in the Rain.

James Marston

AS regular readers among you will know, I have just finished treading the boards at the Ipswich Regent theatre in the musical Singin' in the Rain.

Wearing a huge white costume with gold sequins, I could be seen attempting to dance at the front of the stage.

To be honest, it was a fine line between enjoying taking part and total and utter public humiliation. You see I am not built to be light on my feet in front of 700 people.

In another scene I had to shout out things with a clipboard and in another I was the doorman in white tie, a costume that harked back to a more elegant age.

Though in my dressing room - where we did the crossword, poured cups of tea and discussed the Zimbabwean situation - there was an oasis of calm.

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Backstage was rather more hectic as quick costume changes took place in corridors and people ran around preparing for the next scene.

It was all very entertaining.

Night after night my friend Stephanie the Diva was seen to remove shaving foam from her face and Lucy, my plain-speaking photographer friend, handed out interval cheese scones.

Of course the show wasn't without incident.

Some girl dancers who wore very short little blue frocks and carried big fans almost missed a number, an event which caused much amusement.

One actor referred to the leading lady as Dora - even though her character was called Lina - and even I had a “theatrical moment” when, due to interact with my fellow thespian Stephen, who was in a boy band but gave it all up to work for Suffolk County Council, I turned in his direction to find he was not there - apparently the scene change caught him out.

Even at the after-show party there was as much drama off as on stage when my friend Katy, a dancer, got locked in a lavatory and it was 15 minutes before I found her shouting for help.

A moment of blind panic ensued when she was told she'd have to open a window and escape over a flat roof until someone arrived with a screwdriver and managed to release the lock.

Naturally as the week progressed the talk backstage moved to the next production - a concert - later in the year, with each of us asking the other if we are planning to tread the boards again.

I am not sure, even though a fellow cast member suggested I perform Nessun Dorma because I “have the build to carry it off”.

Naturally, many people have asked me - well a few - how the Ipswich most Operatic and indeed very Dramatic Society managed to get it to rain just at the right moment on the stage of the Regent for the famous tap dancing and singing scene with the policeman.

The answer is, of course, by the magic of theatre - and a great big pump.

POOR Prince William. All that promise and good publicity for learning to fly and it's all taken away.

At the weekend he found himself in hot water again.

In a statement, the Ministry of Defence said battlefield helicopter crews routinely practised landing in fields away from airfields as part of their training for conflicts such as Iraq and Afghanistan.

It's perhaps a shame that William found himself landing in his girlfriend's parents' garden.

The MOD added: “Heli-copter bases continually seek permission from landowners to use their fields and there are only two fields permanently available in Hampshire. Opportunities to use alternatives are therefore regularly seized.

“The aircraft landed in the field, after taking all necessary safety precautions, and was on the ground for 20 seconds. No one got on or off the aircraft. This was very much a routine training sortie that achieved essential training objectives.”

I'm not sure that in the whole of Hampshire he

couldn't have chosen somewhere else, somewhere where the MoD wouldn't have had to “defend” his actions.

Perhaps the most poignant thing is that for William, who is never likely to ever perform in combat, these “essential training objectives” are anything but essential.

WHILE enjoying a quiet drink in a Felixstowe hostelry the other evening a lady - whose face I recognised but could not name - announced that it was “nice to see me sober”, always a worrying greeting.

The lady, who I later found out is called Jo, had been entertained by me in a somewhat merry mood at last year's Felixstowe Carnival.

Apparently I was hilarious and most amusing. I obviously made an impression.

ISN'T it gorgeous when summer is in the air?

I don't know about you, but I'm mightily glad the dark days of winter are behind us.

For those who responded to my appeal for holiday advice, I've made a decision.

This year I am off to the Isle of Man - I admit not the usual destination of us almost-celebs.

Have you been? I went a couple of years ago and loved it - what are your memories of the island?