Twice a year our students from Theatretrain King’s Lynn are invited to take part in professional operas with Opera International, at the Corn Exchange.
Recently they were asked to be extras in Puccini’s best loved opera, Madame Butterfly. For those not familiar, the story was re-enacted in Miss Saigon. Five older girls were Geishas in the wedding scene, along with two older boys from Theatretrain Cambridge South and two little ones from King’s Lynn. And our tiniest student, Neve Haddock, only just 6 and just moved up from Minis to 6-9 group, took on the role of Sorrow, Butterfly’s love child with Captain Pinkerton.
The “wedding guests” had a very brief session with the director, Viktor, before the show began so it was a case of listening, remembering and then improvising and going with the rest of the professional chorus. The little ones had no real practise though, although Our Centre Director Ruth had worked with Neve a little on the day before at Theatretrain as she had to be on stage for the whole of act 2 and had to deliver a line, “Mama Mama” amongst other things!
‘The theatre was sold out, and I have to say everyone involved made me very proud! Everyone acted their parts and delivered their movements with total professionalism as their training kicked in. Ellen Kent, founder and artistic director of the company, and whom I have know for a good few years now, paid a visit to this tour venue and we had time for a good catch up backstage. She knows she can rely on Theatretrain to do a good job, and when she saw the two boys had been placed towards the back she intervened, with her usual flourish, “Darling, move these lovely young men to the front so they can be seen!”
Ellen, myself and the whole audience were totally blown away by little Neve. She had to remain on stage for the entire hour of act 2, being either part of the drama or inside the Japanese house with her mum. She reacted intuitively to all that happened with the characters and delivered her line beautifully. I think she got the loudest applause during the bows and the Maestro and Mdme Butterfly took her to the front with them after her own bow. She loved it and was delighted to later see her name was in the programme too!’
Ruth McKechnie Centre Director of Theatretrain King’s Lynn and Theatretrain Cambridge South