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Theatre helps Norfolk cancer patient’s soul dance again

PUBLISHED: 11:25 22 May 2018 | UPDATED: 11:25 22 May 2018

Gretel Brice with the Little Women script. Picture: Richard Batson

Gretel Brice with the Little Women script. Picture: Richard Batson

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Battling cancer patient Gretel Brice is working through her ‘bucket list’ by directing a youth musical production of Little Women.

Her daughter’s Megan and Matilda. Picture: SLTHer daughter’s Megan and Matilda. Picture: SLT

And, with her daughters Megan and Matilda in the cast at theatres in Sheringham and Great Yarmouth, the show is a poignant and inspirational one for the family - as well as other people with cancer.

The 49-year-old has had a busy career in social services, mental and alternative health, and followed her passion for music and dance as a teacher.

But she was diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer in March last year, and underwent a life-saving 10-hour operation plus four months of chemotherapy.

Ms Brice, who lives near Happisburgh, said: “It was tough. I lost my hair, eyebrows and eyelashes, and my whole body felt as if it was being poisoned - but I was not prepared to lie in bed and suffer.

Gretel Brice during her cancer treatment. Picture: SLTGretel Brice during her cancer treatment. Picture: SLT

“I gardened my way through the impacts of chemo to push it through my system and alleviate the symptoms more quickly.”

As she got stronger, friend Debbie Thompson, director of Sheringham Little Theatre, asked her to chaperone youngsters at the venue’s panto.

It led to choreographing a youth production of Bugsy Malone, and now to direct Little Women from July 5-7. She also teaches dance and drama at St George’s Theatre, Yarmouth, where the show will be staged on July 8.

She added: “I was still in pain through Bugsy and have suffered some memory loss through the chemo – so remembering the dance steps meant extra work and lots of determination.

“But dancing makes my soul dance, and the more I did it, the easier it became. It has been therapeutic - physically, mentally and emotionally - and has rebuilt my confidence.”

Her daughter Matilda said: “Mum is the most selfless, resilient, brave woman I know, and I am incredibly proud of her for everything she has achieved.

“Her passion for the performing arts is what made me love it in the first place, and it’s what has kept us together as a family through the tough times.”

Book tickets at www.sheringhamlittletheatre.com, call 01263 822347, or at www.stgeorgestheatre.com, 01493 331484.

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