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29 October 2014

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Picture: Cast Rehearsing

Backstage at the Studio Theatre

Robinson Crusoe is the biggest production of the Norwich Theatre Royal Studio Theatre this year, with a cast of more than 290 young actors.

Read the review here

If you walk past the Norwich Theatre Royal at the moment, you can't help but notice the nervous excitement and endless giggling in the air from loads of young people.

It's the ship-shape cast of Robinson Crusoe. A show which will star more than 290 people between the ages of eight and 20, all of whom take part in the Theatre Arts Courses at Norwich Theatre Royal.

David Lambert is the show's director.

"We've been in rehearsal from around the middle of May," he said. "Just once a week to begin with and then it ramps up to every night for the last couple of weeks with the four different choruses.

"We then have four dress rehearsals so each choruses can run the show for real and then it's the big night on the main stage of the Norwich Theatre Royal."

Robinson Crusoe is the 10th musical written by director David Lambert and composer Andrew Fletcher. Loosely based on Daniel Defoe's famous novel, this production stars 17-year-old Sam Claflin in the lead role of Robinson.

Picture: Sam Claflin
videoWatch Sam Claflin and the Robinson cast in rehearsal

"This is my first ever main role and its quite an honour and a privilege," said an exhausted Sam during a break in rehearsals.

"It has to be the most difficult part I've played because its just so straight.

"I've always done comic roles, ever since I started when I was 14. Whereas recently I've been put with the main straight roles. It's becoming quite a challenge, but I enjoy it.

"In Robinson you have to play the lover, he's the innocent boy and its quite difficult."

You might remember the TV series of Robinson Crusoe. This was mostly based on the island, but director David Lambert said this production tells Robinson's story from the beginning:

"We've got him running away from home because he wants to make a success of himself.

"He gets captured by pirates, he gets sold as a slave, he sets up a coffee plantation in the Indies, then, on his way home he is shipwrecked and then he ends up on the desert island and meets Man Friday.

"Our Man Friday turns out to be rather different from the Man Friday in the book, but I'm not going to tell you how different, you'll just have to come and watch the show."

Man Friday is played by Lloyd Gorman, he's been a member of the Studio Theatre since he was nine.

"I joined for more of a confidence thing because I didn't have much confidence at school," he said.

Picture: Lloyd Gorman plays Man Friday
videoWatch Lloyd and the Robinson cast in rehearsal

"I came here to try and build some up, and then started to enjoy it. It's a really big social thing, that's half the fun of it.

"You make so many new friends and you get to do great productions every year. It builds up your techniques and if you want to go on to do drama school or anything, you've got a good base to start with."

As you might expect, David Lambert agrees: "I think the courses are vital because they can bring out a talent that might already be there.

"You can't really teach people how to act, but you can show them how to act better. I don't think you can instil talent, but what you can teach is knowledge, technique and opportunity.

"A class like ours is like reading around the subject. If you are doing performing arts A-level, GCSE or whatever, doing a course like this is reading around the subject, just the same as in English."

Packed with laughs and toe-tapping songs, this marauding musical is perfect family fun for the start of the summer holidays.

Graphic: Don't miss

videoWatch the Robinson cast in rehearsal

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Read the review of Robinson

Graphic: Internet links

If this feature has sparked your interest in the performance arts, you've loads of choice in Norfolk. Check out these websites.

Norwich Theatre Royal

Maddermarket Youth Theatre

Norfolk Youth Music Theatre

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites

Picture: Cast of Robinson
Picture: Cast Rehearsing
Picture: Sam Claflin (Robinson) rehearsing  songs

Robinson Crusoe can be seen from Wednesday 30 July - Saturday 2 August, 2003. For tickets call the box office on 01603 630000.

Forthcoming Studio Theate productions:

Friday 28 November - Saturday 6 December
Youth Theatre Company

Old Time Music Hall
Sunday 28 - Tuesday 30 December
Studio Theatre Company

If you want to get involved with the Norwich Theatre Royal arts courses call 01603 598600.
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Age: 17

Born and Bred: Watton


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