Ipswich: IODS have high hopes for Witches of Eastwick

Sian Naylor, Lesley Rawlinson and Amanda Langley are The Witches of Eastwick for the Ipswich Operati

Sian Naylor, Lesley Rawlinson and Amanda Langley are The Witches of Eastwick for the Ipswich Operatic and Dramatic Society's production at The Ipswich Regent from April 24-27. It also stars Jonathan Mudd as Daryl Van Horne. Picture: Lucy Taylor - Credit: Archant

Ipswich Operatic and Dramatic Society are hitting new heights, literally, where their latest show The Witches of Eastwick is concerned.

Sian Naylor, Lesley Rawlinson and Amanda Langley will be going where their professional production counterparts didn’t by flying.

“I think the actresses are very excited and a little bit nervous. One said to me if I’m comfortable it’s safe then she’s comfortable,” says IODS’ stage manager Martyn Wilding, who’s never actually flown anybody before.

“The guys at the Regent have sorted it all out. One of the chaps doing the main work is a qualified rigger, so if he tells me it’s okay that’s fine.”

IODS originally ruled flying out.

“We work very much on cost constraints and I double up as the treasurer so I have two hats on, one saying don’t spend money and the other one saying we need to spend money,” he laughs.

“We don’t have the expertise within IODS to set up the whole flying system. There are companies who will do it and we were getting quotes for basic flying straight up and down of in excess of £3,500, if you want them to go across too it was going to cost even more. For 48 bars of music that just wasn’t going to happen.”

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Alternative options included a craftily disguised scissor lift which the three actresses could stand on and be raised. That posed even more problems.

“These things have safety rails, which cannot be removed for obvious reasons. Most of the ones that were big enough to do what we wanted them to do had an orange flashing beacon and an audible warning which was going to be a bit awkward,” laughs Martyn.

Luckily the Regent team came to the rescue with a cheap plan to fly involving the theatre’s counter balance bars, some weights, rope and four strong stage-hands.

“We’re going to have people pulling them (the witches) to get them started. They probably won’t go up at exactly the same time but once they’re actually in the air it will be quite a balanced system. They’ll have safety harnesses on and be manually pulled up to whatever height the director decides. We’ll have a brake applied to it so they can’t just suddenly drop.”

Set in the tiny New England town of Eastwick, Rhode Island, three modern day witches innocently plot and conjure over a heady brew of weak martinis and peanut butter brownies. When their longings are made flesh in the arrival of Daryl Van Horne, all hell breaks loose.

Dana Rowe and James Dempsey’s stage musical of the smash hit movie was originally produced at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane and Prince of Wales Theatre by Cameron Mackintosh from 2000-2001 before embarking on a hugely popular UK tour.

“It’s an absolutely brilliant show. I hope people will come and see it,” adds Martyn.

It runs from April 24-27.