Lack of men would be a Calamity for Opera

Editor Norman Porter played by Mark Pentecost in Human Interest Stories
Editor Norman Porter played by Mark Pentecost in Human Interest Stories

Berwick Operatic Society are on a serious man hunt as they get stuck into rehearsals for their spring musical ‘Calamity Jane’.

It’s been a great year for the Opera; spring brought a showstopping production of ‘Beauty & the Beast’ and audiences were left praising the lord after recent hit ‘The Vicar of Dibley’ and all involved are hoping that 2013 will be just as successful.

‘Calamity Jane’ won’t open at The Maltings until March 26 but preparations are underway in earnest. The majority of principal roles have been cast but there’s one remaining - Lieutenant Danny Gilmartin.

Danny is a dashing, charismatic soldier and advertised by the Operatic Society as an ideal part for any would be actors aged between 18 and 40.

As ‘Calamity Jane’ is the musical, he does have songs to sing although previous singing experience isn’t essential should any men out there fancy a crack at the role.

Director Mark Pentecost and his team are currently running the rule over one potential Danny but he said he’d love to hear from anyone else keen on the role or any of the large number of other male parts up for grabs.

“We had our auditions at the end of November and only two men came along which did prompt a bit of panic,” he revealed.

“Some of the others in the society reassured me everything would work out fine that there was always a lack of males but I wasn’t expecting the count to be quite so low!

“We’ve currently got four guys in the ranks although none of them are too keen on putting themselves forward for a leading role.”

With ‘Calamity Jane’ being set in the wild west, the on stage action will require its fair share of root tootin’ cowboys and Mark said it would be to the detriment of the show if there wasn’t a strong male presence.

“There’s one particular scene where a crowd of men are awaiting the arrival of Francis Fryer trading cigarette cards with women on them.

“I’m not a massive fan of big crowd scenes on stage as they tend to look messy but we definitely need a few more men for that one or some of the women will have to wear beards!

“I’m aiming to have at least 10 men in the cast. If we have too few the show will be really unbalanced.

“It’s a great musical to do for anyone considering acting for the first time.”

Mark, who was last in the director’s chair for Tideline Runners’ ‘Love or Money’ earlier in the year, said he felt that when it came to talented actors Berwick could be considered “a victim of its own success.”

“There are a lot talented men about, including many in The Maltings Youth Theatre but some of the guys I approached were either tied up with another show or just wanted a break .”

On the bright side Mark is extremely pleased with the females he’s recruited for ‘Calamity Jane’, with competition high for some of the starring roles.

“There were some disappointed ladies at the end of the auditions,” he continued.

“Competition was particularly stiff for Calamity, with the fantastic Lynne Ireland getting the part.

“I’ve directed ‘Calamity Jane’ before in Duns and Lynne went for the role then but didn’t get it. She’s come on a lot since then though and I think she’ll be amazing. We’ve also got a great Katie Brown Adelaide.”

If you’d like to join the ‘Calamity Jane’ ranks email berwickopera@yahoo.co.uk.