Mustard video: Local ladies take to the Norwich Theatre Royal stage in The Ladykillers

Taking to the stage for the Ladykillers at the Theatre Royal , left to right Hazel Ward-Smith, Lynda Hind, Lynda Brandish and Pauline Dyball. Photo: Steve Adams Taking to the stage for the Ladykillers at the Theatre Royal , left to right Hazel Ward-Smith, Lynda Hind, Lynda Brandish and Pauline Dyball. Photo: Steve Adams

Monday, March 4, 2013
8:42 PM

Classic black comedy The Ladykillers is taking to the Norwich Theatre Royal stage all this week, and a quartet of local ladies are having a great time treading the boards alongside the touring cast.

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The Ladykillers at the Norwich Theatre Royal. Pictured: Cliff Parisi (Louis), William Troughton (Harry), Clive Mantle (Major Courtney), Chris McCalphy (One-Round) Paul Bown (Professor Marcus). Photo: Dan TsantilisThe Ladykillers at the Norwich Theatre Royal. Pictured: Cliff Parisi (Louis), William Troughton (Harry), Clive Mantle (Major Courtney), Chris McCalphy (One-Round) Paul Bown (Professor Marcus). Photo: Dan Tsantilis

Classic black comedy The Ladykillers is taking to the Norwich Theatre Royal stage all this week, and a quartet of local ladies are having a great time treading the boards alongside the touring cast.

The four women were among the would-be actresses to answer the show’s call for extras, and each night this week they are playing the friends of little old lady Mrs Wilberforce who finds herself in a battle of wits with a criminal gang posing as musicians.

Last night, ahead of their opening show, they spoke of their excitement of appearing in the production.

Hazel Ward-Smith, 56 and from Norwich, said she had wanted to get involved to have some fun.

“It is absolutely hilarious. I have seen the film once a long time ago but the play is much funnier!” she said, adding that being in The Ladykillers was her first experience of acting other than being in a pantomime.

Lynda Brandish, from Mattishall, was celebrating her birthday last night by appearing in the show.

She said: “I saw the advert and thought, ‘wow, what a wonderful way to celebrate my birthday.’ I thought it would be a wonderful experience because I have never been on the stage before.

“I have been having a great time. My only concern is how I’m going to stop laughing during the shows because the rehearsals have been hilarious!”

Pauline Dyball, from St Olaves, near Somerleyton, said: “Usually I do pantomimes and musicals so I thought it would be good to be involved in a play. It’s been really interesting and everyone is so friendly.”

Lynda Hind, 58 and from Cawston, said: “It’s been fantastic so far.

“I watched the film the other day and actually the 1955 film is quite dark, but the play seems a lot funnier!

“It’s really nice meeting the other “ladies of a certain age” too.

“I come to watch shows at the theatre all the time, so it is such a great experience to be involved in one of the shows.”

The show is an adaptation by Norwich-based writer Graham Linehan of the well-known 1950s Ealing Studios film, which sees a villainous gang rent rooms in the home of Mrs Wilberforce.

They plot to involve her in their heist, but sweet little Mrs Wilberforce - played on stage by Michele Dotrice (who played Betty in Some Mothers Do‘Ave‘Em) - has other ideas.

Cliff Parisi, known to many as Minty in Eastenders and who is also in the TV show Call the Midwife, is among the actors playing the gang members desperate to keep her quiet.

About the show, he said: “It is basically about a good-willed old lady who has a bunch of robbers come to stay and she kills them with kindness and tea.

“It has always been one of my favourite films of all time. I have always had a soft spot for it, and Graham Linehan, who has written the play, is my favourite comedy writer at the moment. They asked me if I wanted to do the show and I tore their arm off. I do not often do theatre but this is something I could not refuse.

“My character is the danger and the killer. He’s a nasty piece of work and very agitated, which is a bit of a departure for me because I usually play the nice guys.”

• The Ladykillers is at Norwich Theatre Royal until Saturday. For more information and to book tickets call the box office on 01603 630000 or visit www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk

• Do you have a story about the arts in Norwich? Call reporter Emma Knights on 01603 772428 or email emma.knights@archant.co.uk

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