SIBA MATTI talks to actress Laurene Omedal about forming the Guiding Light Theatre Company and the group's new comedy musical, Scrubbers, which comes to Ruislip this weekend
Reaching the age of 40 is a major milestone for most people and a cause for celebration - that is, unless you happen to work in the entertainment industry, when being 'over the hill' can signify the death of your career.
This was the reality facing Laurene Omedal, a professional performer, director and producer who has spent most of her life in Ruislip.
Despite being professionally trained, work began to dry up for the 44-year-old because of her age - so she decided to take charge of her destiny and form her own theatre group, the Guiding Light Theatre Company.
Laurene says: "The plan was to offer great parts to mature ladies who were brimming over with talent, and yet not being offered the right work or being offered small, inconsequential parts due to their age.
"Celebrity culture saturating the media has made it more difficult for women like me to get respectable roles - all the best parts seem to go to younger people who are already in the public eye, such as soap stars. It seems impossible to get a break in the industry when you are past a certain age, despite what skills you may have to offer, but hopefully now I can change that."
As well as older women, the Guiding Light Theatre Company also has male members of all ages and abilities.
But women take centre stage in the group's first ever production, Scrubbers, which comes to the Ruislip Conservative Club this Saturday.
Scrubbers tells the story of five cleaning ladies who are fed up with their mundane lives - until they hatch a plan to help one of them, Dee, who is also a singer in a wine bar, to pursue her dreams and turn professional.
Laurene, who plays Dee as well as directing, producing and choreographing the show, explains: "The show is a truly heartwarming yet hilarious musical comedy with catchy songs, great harmonies, tap dancing and also a few naughty moments - so it's not really for children!
"We hope to bring quality professional theatre at a low cost to the residents of Middlesex, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Hertfordshire, to make them laugh and forget the credit crunch.
"We have done everything ourselves, from the stage design to the costumes, and we have spent hours rehearsing, mostly at my home to save money and keep costs low.
"As we are such a new group we are still trying to make money and we are looking for sponsorship as well as anyone who would like to contribute to the show on or off stage.
"We would also like to thank the Ruislip Conservative Club for allowing us to use the venue - it is the first of hopefully many shows there. We aim to tour all over the country with Scrubbers and we will be returning to Ruislip on May 15-16 to perform at the White Bear. Prior to that, we will be visiting Chesham, Amersham, Watford, Wycombe, Acton and Ealing, plus we will also be at the Brighton Festival. And we hope to visit the Edinburgh Festival next year."
Tickets for Scrubbers are £6.50 on the door or call 01494 446 790. Find out more at firstname.lastname@example.org