Gary Wilmot’s romantic thriller Sweet Lorraine premieres in Bognor Regis

Harry Burton
Harry Burton

Harry Burton is relishing the chance to create from scratch a fascinating role in the world premiere of Gary Wilmot’s romantic thriller Sweet Lorraine at Bognor’s Regis Centre from Wednesday, October 17-Saturday, October 20.

Harry remembers childhood caravan holidays in the area.

But the venue itself is new to him – and he is convinced it will be perfect for the play Gary has written and will direct.

“I am an old friend of Gary’s and Gary’s wife. Gary got in touch a couple of weeks ago and asked if I would be free to read this.

“He offered me the part on the spot.

“I am quite a late entrant to the company, but that doesn’t matter.

“It is really exciting to be part of a new project. I didn’t have a new project and now suddenly I do, and we feel we are taking an appropriate risk with a new play and a new role, especially with a play that has such a huge twist that no one will see coming.

“I should be careful not to give away too much, but there is a lot of currency in the subject matter especially when you look at the headlines and you see stories of historical sexual abuse that happened a long time ago and that is now coming back, the idea that your past will always come back to surprise you.

“What is interesting is that Gary can write a play but it is something that is happening in real life right now.

“It is something that seems to be with us all the time.”

In the play, Harry Burns (Harry), a highly-respected jazz musician, is accepting of a life where the good times and fame are behind him.

He now pays his bills by teaching music, but when Lorraine Travis (Martha Dancy) sits at his piano for her first lesson, Harry’s life takes a thrilling turn.

He is inspired, excited and adored again. Lorraine brings more than just talent and enthusiasm into his life when he is faced with the truth of his past.

“Harry is my age, mid-50s. He has had some success as a musician.

“He is a very accomplished jazz pianist.

“He is a pro’s pro. He seems to know everybody, and he seems to have settled into a fairly-comfortable semi-obscurity, half the time gigging and half the time giving lessons.

“He has got a list of people that come to him for piano lessons, and then one day in walks this woman.

“The wonderful thing about this thriller is that you don’t see it coming.

“It’s a love story, the story of a man in his 50s having a late-flowering romance.

“He doesn’t see it coming. It pulls the rug from under him. The audience is seeing a love story… and then a few drops of poison and it becomes something very different…”

It is a relatively-short run in Bognor.

“I have done long runs and I have done short runs, but really all that matters is the audience that you have got in front of you and we will have five different audiences, and the great challenge for us is that we have got to tell the story each time as if we were doing it for the first time.

“We have got to wipe the slate clean each time and completely start again, and that’s the exciting thing – that we are giving the audience a story, that they will go away grateful to get back to their own lives, but they will take something of that story with them.”

Tickets for Sweet Lorraine are available from the Regis Centre on http://alexandratheatre.co.uk or on 01243 861010. Performances run from Wednesday, October 17-Saturday, October 20.

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