Mention The Littleport Players and instantly you come up with names like actors George Harrison, Megan Bidecant, Becky Green, Chelsea Booth, Nikki Dyer, and Director and Make-up Artist Karen Booth. They are all superb entertainers and creators in their own right, and come this April they will know if they have won any of the three NODA awards for which they have been them nominated, their quite outstanding 2016 summer musical, Avenue Q, which saw two extra shows put on by popular demand
Behind all the glitz and glamour, there is one unassuming person who doesn’t particularly like the limelight, but Littleport Life Magazine managed to track down their superb costume creator extra-ordinaire, Sheila Goodall.
Sheila has been nominated for a NODA “Best Technical 2016 Award for the outstanding Avenue Q musical for which she made superb life-size hand-held puppets. Avenue Q has also been nominated for Best Musical Award for 2016 and Cinderella has also been nominated for the Best Panto.
“I’ve been sewing since I was a child, when my mother first taught me as a 4 year old. She used to sit me on her knee, and I would sew, while my mother would work the treadle, which as a very young child, I thought it was a pretty fun thing to do.”
Sheila and husband Mike came to Littleport in 1972.
“When we moved up here, I got involved with the Southery Pantomime first, and then I was invited to make bridesmaids and wedding dresses with a bridal company in Ely, and from there I set up my own business.
“After retiring, I offered Becky Green all the odds and ends of material which they could use for costume making, but having then enquired whether they needed any help, she said that all their seamstresses had left, so you could say that was the beginning of costume making for The Littleport Players and Aladdin was my first project.
“I get help from Karen Walker who does turn ups and sews on buttons,” said Sheila, who revealed that planning the design and coming up with ideas usually takes 3 months after discussing it first with the Director, Karen Booth.
“I have to do everything as cheaply as possible by looking round the charity shops like YPL, Emmaus, Branching Out, where I find our material for the costumes. I mainly pick up curtains or sheets which I then cut up and design accordingly, so really you wouldn’t know that they do in fact make some brilliant costumes.
“Becky and Chelsea who are our fantastic duo act always have an input as to their costumes which really does help. There is the odd occasion when The Players come up with some outrageous ideas but I still somehow come up with the goods.
“And there are so many costume changes, and at such a fast rate, it is usually me going up to the actors ripping the Velcro off for another change.
“I have to say that the Avenue Q puppets for which I am nominated owe so much to their operators, the actors who brought them to life!”
As for the future, Sheila says, “I feel that having more child actors in our momentpantomimes and musicals has heightened the profile and interested more people in the village, but it would be good if even more people come and support The Littleport Players.
“My youngest son Ryan he used to do the music for the panto, and is now a music teacher living away from home in the Cambridge area, and it is through my son that I got to know Sarah, George Harrison’s Mum, and in fact I made her wedding dress.
In conclusion Sheila said, “I really do hope we win at least one of the three awards we have been nominated for,” as she proceeded to take me upstairs followed by the mischievous doggie Alfie, showing me round her immaculately well-ordered work room, with knitting and sewing machine at the ready for yet another major production by the Littleport Players.