Downtrodden housewife Shirley Valentine is a “rom-com” icon who has inspired countless women to rebuild their lives.

North Norfolk actor Loraine Metcalfe is preparing to play her for the fifth time. And it’s her favourite role because she once was that woman in real life.

Loraine is giving her services to the Sheringham Little Theatre for free to reprise the role in a June fundraiser show for a venue that played a key part in turning her life around.

The Shirley story sees her escape her boredom in Liverpool to find adventure, and romance, on a Greek island.  

“I was on the verge of going abroad to escape some difficult times just like Shirley. But I was offered the chance to play her on stage instead at the Little Theatre. The people here, including director Debbie Thompson who invited me, were so supportive. It helped me get back on track, and I also moved here eight years ago as a result,” said Loraine, from Coltishall. The trained actor has also remarried and launched a wedding décor business.

“The Little Theatre has a big place in my heart for helping rebuild my life, so I am thrilled to help it with this fundraiser,” said Loraine, who is being directed by Debbie’s daughter Katie.

“Playing Shirley in a one-woman show can be pretty daunting but her character and story relates to so many people you soon forget the nerves as the audience come on that journey with you. She is such an inspiration, not just for women whose life is in a rut, but we also get feedback from husbands in the audience who realise they need to look at themselves too,” she added.

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Loraine first played Shirley in 2004 for two events in her then hometown Ross on Wye. Twenty years later she has begun rehearsals to stage the one-woman show again at Sheringham where she also performed it during the 2006 and 2016 summer drama seasons to rave reviews.

But as she explains “Shirley infers age is just a number. Adventures are still to be had, so come and join me for the excitement of jumping off her roof!”

The show runs from Thursday June 27 to Saturday June 29 at 7.30, plus a 2.30pm Saturday matinee. Tickets are £16 from www.sheringhamlittletheatre.com or the box office on 01263 822 347.

Listings at Sheringham Little Theatre