Glimpse behind the scenes of a Dickens show
DAVID Copperfield was one of the surprises waiting to greet members of the public who went backstage at Whitstable's Playhouse Theatre. During a two-hour "open day" on Saturday morning, the High Street theatre opened its doors as part of its 30th anniversary celebrations.
More than 60 visitors wandered into the foyer to be met by costumed members of the Lindley Players.
The actors were preparing for their production of the Charles Dickens' classic David Copperfield which opens tomorrow night (Friday). Among them was David Rogers, 20, who is taking the lead.
He admitted: "It is my biggest role. I spend virtually the entire first act on stage."
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Joining him will be real-life girlfriend Jane Cottrell as Dora. The pair met during a production of The Importance of Being Earnest last year.
David, who lives in Whitstable and works in the music department of Simon Langton Girls' Grammar School, Canterbury, said: "It is fun working with Jane. Touch wood, we haven't had any rows yet!"
Also hosting the free tours was Alison Cook, wife of Herne Bay city councillor Andrew Cook. She is playing Betsy Trotwood, Copperfield's eccentric aunt.
Alison said: "I have only been in the Lindleys for a year. I am also in the Playmakers at Herne Bay but wanted to broaden my experience."
Visitors to the theatre were taken on a tour of the theatre's stage where designer Chris Coates and Darren Simpson were adding the finishing touches to the Copperfield set.
Faversham-born Chris, a former member of soul band Rubber Biscuit and now leader of Kit Curtis and the 3Bs, said: "Set-builder Peter Harrington has done a great job bringing my design to life."
The set includes a specially-reinforced raised section at the back on the stage, secret sliding panels and a bed on castors which transforms into a coffin.
Also on show were the fully-equipped workshop where the sets are built and the theatre's huge wardrobe store.
Those who managed the climb to the back of the theatre were shown demonstrations of the computer-controlled state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems.
In the dressing room, Stuart Webb was demonstrating the latest horror make-up techniques on his niece Stephanie Barry, 23. She normally treats real wounds as a health care assistant at the Estuary View, Whitstable and Chestfield surgeries.
Stuart extended her cheeks, painted her teeth, gave her a false nose, added rubberised wounds and then asked her to spit out fake blood.
He said: "I often make my own blood from golden syrup, Camp coffee, lashings of food colouring and sometimes a dash of washing-up liquid."
Theatre spokesman Peter Bressington said: "We were delighted with the response. We normally only open the theatre as part of national Heritage Days."
Proceeds from Saturday's matinee will go to the charity Pilgrims Hospices, which is also celebrating its 30th anniversary. David Copperfield runs to Saturday and then next week, Tuesday to Saturday. It is entered in the Kent Drama Festival.