‘Did you go to the Marine?’

Writer Andy Rattenbury acted as a narrator as effective photos and videos from the Marine’s history were shown on a projector screen behind (photos by John Puckey)

“DID you go to the Marine?” It seems to be the question on everyone’s lips this week after audiences were blown away by a community play celebrating 125 years of history at Lyme’s little theatre by the sea.

If you weren’t in the sell-out audiences, you were probably in the show, as the production impressively pulled together more than 100 residents either on stage or helping behind the scenes.

‘Are You Going to the Marine?’ was written specially to top off the theatre’s anniversary year by Lyme-born scriptwriter Andy Rattenbury. Based around a technical rehearsal for a community play, those on stage dipped in and out of character to cleverly pack 125 years of history into just a couple of hours.

After hearing his many tales of days gone by at the theatre, I took my Dad along with me to the opening night. From the moment we arrived it was clear this was going to be no ordinary show; the cast were already in character as they greeted audience members in the auditorium and I was left blushing in the aisle after John Gooden, playing Shakespeare, serenaded me with lines from ‘Sonnet 18’.

From the Marine’s beginnings as a Georgian bath, through its years as a drill hall during the two world wars, to the famous big beat dances of the swinging Sixties – the show captured it all.

Scenes of love, heartbreak, celebration, grief, music and dancing were interspersed with snippets of some of the favourite productions seen on the Marine stage over the years.

Lyme Regis Musical Theatre presented a number from ‘The Mikado’ ahead of their 100th anniversary next year, while the Marine Players added a festive touch with the ‘12 Days of Christmas’ scene from last year’s ‘A Christmas Carol’.

Youngsters from the Lyme School of Ballet added the cute factor with their opening numbers and Lyme Regis Pantomime Society injected some slapstick humour with their sing-alongs.

Writer Andy appeared on stage as a narrator, adding context to the nostalgic photos and videos shown on a projector screen behind, which had whispers of fond memories circling the audience and Dad nudging me, saying “I was there”.

Making her Lyme Regis directorial debut in what would surely be a mammoth challenge for even the most experienced, Georgia Robson also made vocal appearances throughout as she tried to keep her cast on track during the ‘technical rehearsal’, giving the audience a glimpse of life behind the scenes.

Musical director Declan Duffy also took to the stage in a number of roles, including as London promoter Bob Alexander who brought some of the biggest names in pop to the Marine during the 1960s.

The core cast of Emily Blech (Alice), Kat Hobbs (Rosie), Bertie Oldfield (Robbie), Leon Howe (Jack), Harry Poore (Christian), and Gemma Jones (Dora) took audiences through the decades with their dance routines, costume changes and tales of courtship.

And the cleverly-selected programme of music – much of which was performed live by members of B Sharp and Saxminster – had the audience singing along to everything from Vera Lynn to The Beatles. The phrase “something to suit all tastes” has never been more fitting!

An incredible community effort to celebrate a theatre that has been at the heart of Lyme Regis for so many years.

CAST: Emily Blech (Alice), Kat Hobbs (Rosie), Bertie Oldfield (Robbie), Leon Howe (Jack), Harry Poore (Christian), Gemma Jones (Dora), Brian Rattenbury (Stage Crew), Val Christmas (Stage Manager), Steve Rattenbury (Stage Crew), John Gooden (Shakespeare), John Simpson (Drill Sergeant), Phil Christmas (Terry), plus Maya Pieris, John Murphy, Tracey Blech, Jenny Waldron, David Sproule and Margaret Morgan.

LYME REGIS PANTOMIME SOCIETY: Lorraine Knowles, Stuart Knowles, Louise Rawlins, Cathryn Brooks, Dave Street.

LYME SCHOOL OF BALLET: Junior Company Snowflakes – Madi Apps, Lily Barton, Tallulah Chinneck, Freya Harp, Millie Harp, Ivy Hartford, Tanisha-Leigh Parsons, Freddie McMahon, Esme Skevington, Ellen Smith, Hazel Spencer, Annabel Sydenham, Tia Trinca, Cordie Tunbridge. Senior Company Snowflakes – Carys Bennett, Rosa Lunch, Daisy Merrett, Freya Morgan, Maddie Robinson, Lucie Sivier-Voller, Esme Skevington, Klara Smith.

LYME REGIS MUSICAL THEATRE: Johanna Hopkins, Susan Wiscombe, Anita Routley, Trudi Robson, Nicole Parkinson-Ward, Yvonne Marsh, Carys Lowe, John Routley, Richard Farraday, Brian Rattenbury.

MARINE PLAYERS: Anouska Galvin-Mayes, Ariana Finn, Lucy Smith, Millie Ashford, Fred Humphrey, David Ruffle, Margaret Morgan, Anne King, Juliet Henham, Brian Rattenbury, Steve Rattenbury, Linda Crawford, Jon Doody, Barbara Green, Cherine Hill.

B SHARP: Harvey Causley, Jack Beale, Russ Bracey, Frank Adlam, Luke Pemberton, Freya Morgan.

SAXMINSTER: Jake Causley, Jackie Ensall, Dennis Bye, Oscar Gordon-Christopher, Mark Gordon Christopher.

PRODUCTION CREW: Andy Rattenbury (writer), Georgia Robson (director), Declan Duffy (musical director), Rose May (costume design), Steve Miller (lighting and sound), Imogen Wallis (projector operator, Jo Oliver-Smith (stage manager), Dayana Macbeth (stage crew), Mike Stainer (pianist), Adrian Hillier (musical genius).

Musical director Declan Duffy appears on stage as London promoter Bob Alexander who brought the Big Beat dances to the Marine
John Simpson as the drill sergeant with the core cast behind during scenes depicting Lyme’s roles in the two world wars
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