Hundreds audition for Ben Hur
Budding actors will soon find out if they have what it takes to star in Bath's own adaptation of a silver screen epic.
This weekend, around 120 people auditioned for speaking roles in a community production of the classic story Ben Hur.
Members of the public were invited to shed their inhibitions and take to the stage after the city’s Theatre Royal was left money in the will of Archers actress Margot Boyd, to encourage more people to tread the boards and experience the joys of drama.
Since November, people of all ages have been involved in workshops helping them prepare to bring the life and times of Jewish merchant Judah Ben Hur to the stage.
Limited Deal. All day wedding photography only £545.00View details
All day wedding photography only £545.00
From Bridal preparations to first dance.
250+ Hi Res images on disc with full printing rights.
Professional photography at affordable prices.
Free no obligation consultations.
Offer subject to availability.
Book before 31st May 2013.
Available in Bath, Bristol and surrounding areas.
Contact: 01225 439257
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
The tale of his rivalry with childhood friend-turned Roman commander Messala, with its famous chariot race, will be dramatised at the theatre in October.
Within the next week, directors plan to cast the main roles with more than 300 other people from the Bath area involved in singing or backstage duties.
Fifteen-year-old St Gregory’s Catholic College students Emer Heatley and Emma Scolding were trying their luck yesterday.
Emer said: “We were really excited when we found out about the production and just hope we can be involved in some way. I don’t mind if that is an on-stage role or helping out backstage. I think it is something that should happen more often to give people the chance to see what being involved in a theatre production is all about.”
Like many other people who have become involved, Laura Toms has never acted before. She said: “It was about 12 years ago when I was last on stage and that was during a school production so it is all all totally new to me. My boyfriend brought the leaflet home with him one night asking for people to take part and we just thought it would be a fun way to spend our time.”
Amateur dramatics veteran Tom Giddings, who has been a member of a drama group in Trowbridge for 40 years said he felt the social side of theatre was just as important as the on-stage action.
He said: “My wife Angela and I actually met thanks to theatre. Back in 1970 we were both involved in the same production and have been happily married ever since. I wanted to get involved with the community production of Ben Hur to see how the professionals do it. It is a huge undertaking, a production like this, and I think it is fantastic the theatre has been given the opportunity to get more people involved.”
The theatre’s lifelong learning officer, Jill Bennett, said: “Our pitch was to people who didn’t have the nerve to give theatre a go and we aim to show them that they can do it. We have been amazed at how many people have turned up at the auditions and workshops especially since around 75 per cent of them have never been involved in theatre before.”
The production is also to become the subject of a BBC documentary. Film units will be following the cast and crew in the lead-up to the October shows before screening the programme in November.
The three-and-a-half hour 1959 screen version of Ben Hur won 11 Oscars - including one for best lead actor, for Charlton Heston.