Festival opening night axed

ORGANISERS of one of the area's biggest theatre events have had to axe their original opening gala night after illness forced one of the groups taking part to pull out.

ORGANISERS of one of the area's biggest theatre events have had to axe their original opening gala night after illness forced one of the groups taking part to pull out.

In another twist, a second group has been considering whether to withdraw after a leading member suddenly died while on holiday - but have decided he would want them to carry on.

It has been a baptism of fire for Alan Dix, the new director of the Felixstowe Drama Festival.

Mr Dix, who took over from Barbara Minns and Ruth Miller last year, said: “It was all going so well up until a few weeks ago.

“Then we heard from the company due to present the opening night's play that half of them had gone down with illness, and one of them will not be able to sing again until August.

“They had to pull out and at this stage it is not easy to find someone else to step in at such short notice - I even considered asking the company I am involved with, Rushmere Players, but some people had commitments and it was not possible.

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“I tried changing the order so we could open on the Saturday with another play, but in the end we have had to accept that we will not have a Saturday and will open instead on the Sunday.”

The company affected was the award-winning In Yer Space, who were due to perform Amanda Whittington's play Satin 'n' Steel. The group, which has won awards at the Edinburgh Fringe, were runners-up at Felixstowe last year and winners the year before.

The second blow came as festival organisers heard that Mike Barlow, of the Cardiff Players, had died last week while on holiday in Rome.

Mr Barlow has been involved in many of the company's productions over the past 20 years, taking on a variety of roles and winning several awards.

“There was a doubt over whether Cardiff would come as he was heavily involved in this year's show, but in the end his wife and son said they would take part because that is what he would have wanted and they will dedicate the performance to him,” said Mr Dix.

Cardiff will be performing on Friday June 1 when they present the comedy My Three Angels.

See Ents Weekly on Friday for a full preview of the Felixstowe Drama Festival.

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