Tradition and joy are at the top of the Christmas list for the Merlin theatre this year as they produce their annual seasonal show which this year is the very beautiful story of The Nutcracker.
Theatre Director, Claudia Pepler tells us “Our favourite phrase this year is ‘ditch the tat!’. We’ve coined it here to remind ourselves that music, theatre, just getting together to laugh and sing and share some special experiences with family and friends is what a traditional Christmas is all about. Why buy more pink or blue fake stuff when you can make memories instead.”
In a sneak preview of what’s in store for Frome audiences this December, some of the actors from The Nutcracker donned their costumes for a photo shoot with professional photographer Dave Merritt to give everyone a glimpse of the characters. Under the watchful direction of Scott Ward, making his first foray into the direction of a full-scale production, the families of Frome are in for a very big treat in the run up to Christmas.
The lead role of Clara is played by Anabella Fairgrieve who has taken to the Merlin stage on regular basis over several years, as well as treading the boards at several other theatres in the area. Anabella is one of many young people, having found their feet at the town’s community-loved theatre, to be considering applying for drama school with a view to becoming a professional actor. Anabella is as avid theatre-goer as well as participant and a strong supporter of the local venue. “We are so lucky to have the Merlin. They not only encourage and inspire me to try to be an actress but I actually get to the one thing that is really essential – the chance to perform in a professional theatre, night after night. That is not something most school kids and students have. That opportunity simply isn’t available in most towns. Frome rocks, I tell you!”.
Joining Anabella in the lead role is Owen White, playing her brother, Fritz. This is Owen’s first show at the Merlin and he’s rising to the challenge of playing his character. “Fritz is very serious” says Owen “and not a believer in magic. It’s fun to play someone who has to change and develop. I won’t tell you what happens, but I can say that certainly at the start of the show he is not the person you would want to invite to a Christmas party”.
Rehearsals are in full swing every weekend and also during the evenings to be sure everyone is word-perfect and in full voice. As the excitement of starting to build the set to create a fantasy world on stage ‘Clara’ and ‘Fritz’ are joined by the Mouse Queen (Abi Holmes), the Mouse King (Joe Horley) and the Royal Prince of Make Believe (Ed Henderson) who are just some of the enchanting characters bringing this timeless tale to life.
The Nutcracker will run on various dates, matinee and evening performances, from 6-15th December with tickets between £8.50 and £12.50. See merlintheatre.co.uk for details of showtimes. Tickets can be booked online or phone 01373 465949