Headley Theatre Club
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April 2001 January 2002 April/May 2003 July 2003 January 2004 March 2004 For further reviews, see links from Photos and from Past Performances
April 2001 The Farndale Avenue
Housing Estate Townswomen's Guild Dramatic Society's Murder Mystery
Director: Jill Turner
"An adventurous project that could be difficult to achieve - but was very lively and at times hilarious. Timing was brilliant" … Cathy Shotter of Southsea.
Well, what fun!! I was inclined to tease the members of the Headley Theatre Club by telling them it was the first time I'd ever seen an entire dramatic society type-cast. But in reality the whole, extremely difficult, production was exceedingly well done in a complex milieu.
Following the tradition of other Farndale Avenue plays the swapping of lines around to make answers come before questions, multiple parts for almost all of the actors, scenery and props in disarray all added deliciously to confusion and mayhem. This must be the rare production where one of the most important roles was played by "Props" - Denise Burrows and Jenna Cross did a splendid job muddling up everything - but everything!!
Wendy Downs played (amongst other roles) the Butler, Pawn - quite stealing the show from all the Bishops and other chess players, especially with his (her) play with the tray flashing reflected light apparently casually around the highly amused audience. Kay McGregor and Penny McKay juggled their multiple parts with great aplomb - thus adding substantially to the confusion. Naomi Burrows and Sylvia Frobisher (or was it Laurie Lewis?) as Thelma and the Inspector did a great job with their oh-so-sexy dance as well as doing their other parts well. Making her debut with Headley Theatre Club very capably was Karen Langer, the daughter of Joan Parkinson (much loved by all HTC people) who assisted in the dance of the chairs as the solicitor, as well as being one of the spinster aunts. The whole production was joyously held together by Penny McKay's portrayal of Mrs Rees - she gave a great push in the right direction of cock-eyed humour with her endless chatter aimed at utter confusion.
The whole result showed Headley Theatre Club is well and truly up to anything, but anything!
Judy Harrold, Passfield
January 2002 Cinderella Directors: Jo Smith/Dil Williamson cast
Performed 18-20 & 25-26 January 2002
You know that a pantomime script written by Jo Smith will observe the established traditions, served up in succinct scenes with opportunities for all the cast, from principals to the youngest player, be it dialogue, song or movement. No wonder his scripts are performed up and down the country!
"Cinderella" is no exception. From the start, the audience's attention is claimed by Puck (Ashleigh Keech in fine form) entering through the auditorium spelling out the prologue, followed by a quick chorus number, showing off the first of many well-costumed and tuneful set pieces.
The comedy is introduced with a neat juxtaposition between a straight verse-speaking Fairy Godmother (Mo Cooke) and a rather inefficient sister Gloria (Laurie Lewis).
Cinderella and her Prince are key roles played with aplomb by sisters Heidi and Karina Farnlucher, both possessed of stage presence and good singing voices. The same can be said of the dashing Dandini (Rachel Whittaker) and the charming Alice (Becky Radford), both showing the essential rapport.
This was a feature of the playing of the Ugly Sisters, as portrayed by Dorian Burrows and John McGregor never too outrageous, and able to deal with the odd "blip" in the action with quick and clever cover. The brief "slap-stick" sequence was well timed, and they put their key number "Sisters" across in real style.
Backing them were Nick Webb's bewildered Baron, counterbalanced by a 'Cruella' of a wife Pru Harrold's Griselda, and also by Jamie Stickler's assured Squire with his henchman, bumbling Baldock (Lee Carter) and helpers Daniel Hawkes, Mark James and Steve Owen, all suitably 'dim'. Joining these younger players was the competent Buttons (Daniel Radford) - their talents to be treasured for the future.
The Club is extremely fortunate to have Jo Levy as Musical Director who, together with her husband Martin on guitar and Keith Ireland on percussion, provide a perfect accompaniment to the varied selection of songs and dance.
Dilys Williamson (Co-director) and Denise Burrows handle the choreography with precision what a treat to see some "period" dancing done as well as the vigorous rock number and the Junior Chorus's delightful "A Handful of Stardust" number. Denise was also responsible for the costumes, together with Laurie Lewis and Alison Keech these two doing sterling work with an ever more polished Junior Chorus.
Settings were kept simple essential with the restricted space available on stage and off it. These were complimented by the efficient lighting and effects handled by the Kosinski brothers, helped by good stage management under the direction of Debbi Williamson.
Altogether, director Jo and co-director Dilys should be well pleased with a satisfactory start to the Club's 50th Anniversary Year.
Stan Sharp, Liphook
April/May 2003 Bugsy Malone Director: Nick Webb - performed by the Youth Group cast
Performed 25, 26 April & 2, 3 May 2003
Kids acting as hoodlums in a spate of gang warfare is hardly the sort of item we want to read about but, when it concerns local, talented youngsters giving of their best in Headley Theatre Club's latest production, that's a different story.
Bugsy Malone is the spring production performed by the youth section of the club, directed by Nick Webb and well supported backstage by many senior members.
The action of the play takes place in and around a 1920s New York "speakeasy",
which has been recreated on stage.
The atmosphere is brilliantly complemented by the admirable efforts of all the cast to deliver dialogue in east coast American accents and the wonderful period costumes of hoods, dancers and main characters alike.
From the opening scene, the audience is immediately engaged by the brutal gang rivalry; Roxy Robinson (Helen Keech) ambles in, is questioned as to his identity and is immediately killed! We have been introduced to "splurge" warfare.
The two gangs of "hoods", led by cool Dandy Dan (Daniel Radford) and troubled Fat Sam (Adam Coyte) compete for supremacy and it's not long before many more have been killed or "splurged".
It may sound a little sinister but it's entertaining, as members of the audience
also find themselves ducking the shots.
The police, in the shape of Captain Smolsky (Georgia Keen) and O'Dreary (Carly Barbey), inadequately equipped with magnifying glasses, have little hope of putting an end to this latest hoodlum craze and so things continue to get out of hand.
Fat Sam is losing; he despairs: "I'm surrounded by namby pamby dancers when I need brains brains and muscle."
He resorts to calling on the help of Bugsy Malone.
Bugsy, played by Lee Carter, could be the Mr Fixit for Sam. However, as a
fighter he had jelly legs and a glass jaw!
Do you doubt his pedigree? His dalliances with Blousey (Mel Tregay) and Tallulah (Becky Radford) could have led him in other directions but the chance to earn a "couple of hundred bucks" along with his discovery of Leroy (Ashleigh Keech), a boxer with "it", moves the action on.
There's yet more to come in this fast-moving play.
Enjoy the excellently choreographed dancers and the boxing training session: watch, in disbelief, as more characters come to a sticky end looking down the barrel of a "splurge" gun, particularly Knuckles (Katie Woodger) and Loony Bergonzi (Paul Kosinski).
Listen to the cutting, streetwise dialogue of the principal characters oh, but don't expect to hear many complimentary remarks: when Bangles (Siân Lewis) remarks that her looks are ahead of her time and that they are "full of personality , character kinda earthy" Tallulah immediately responds: "Yeah, like a bucket of mud."
The kids have enjoyed every minute of this production and both the audience and they themselves are rewarded for the hours spent in rehearsals.
How does it all end? Well, that would be telling, but out of chaos comes the delightful, lone voice of Fizzy (Justine Carter) explaining: "We could have been anything that we wanted to be."
And with this talented youth group, that could be a different story for a different day!
"Alan Parker" aka Chris Keech
Herald, Friday 2 May 2003
July 2003 Magnificent Music Hall Director: Dil Williamson
Performed 18 & 18 July 2003
This summer season's offering of an Old Tyme Music Hall included solos, duets
and group acts featuring music, magical illusion and much merriment. And, yes, the performances were truly magnificent.
The programme commenced with a selection of songs from Noël Coward, in which the audience were more than adequately persuaded that Mrs Worthington should not put her daughter (John McGregor) on the stage.
Jo Smith then most competently adopted the role of Master of Ceremonies and bid us to enjoy the entertainment - provided by a cast gathered before us at enormous expense! Some may have doubted this statement but when stalwarts of the club arrived from West Yorkshire to take their turn, then the truth was proved. Added to this, the production featured the 'very first cinematographic experience' provided by the Brothers Lumière (with the aid of an old bicycle) - 'c'est magnifique.' The stage was also transformed into a beach when the cast and audience went to the seaside. This seaside theme was a must, and included a beach party with all the cast dressed in swimwear. "Didn't we have a lovely time .."
I marvelled at how these talented actors and actresses poured their bodies into a multitude of costumes and always looked the part!
The production provided an opportunity for club members to present a great diversity of musical renditions and there were notable solo performances by Wendy Downs, Deb Williamson and Chloe Shrubb, to name but a few. The youth group had the audience foot-tapping with their energetic dancing to musical hits from 'Grease'. Yet it could well have been the enthusiasm of the junior section that stole the show, especially when Matthew Powell discovered that he was indeed 'a swan!' and not just an ugly duckling.
There was so much to enjoy and the hard work of those pioneering Lumière brothers, (or were they really stagehands Paul Heath and Nick Webb?), provided an excellent illusion for members of the youth group to conjure up an early silent movie. If that wasn't enough, we were then treated to a brilliantly executed, saucy restoration sketch, which was lucky to get past the censor and was remarkable in how Laurie, Penny, Mike and John minded not their 'p's and 'q's, but more importantly their 'f's and 's's.
By the time the cast had us strolling through London, I imagine that not one member of the audience wanted to be 'shown the way to go home.' The evening was great entertainment and with a ploughman's supper and cakes and pastries all offered for the inclusive price of £7, it would be understood if you booked a repeat performance. This show deserved more nights than some that you catch at the end of the pier!
Well done Headley Theatre Club for such a fun evening.
January 2004 Red Riding Hood Directors: Jo Smith/Dil Williamson cast
Performed 16, 17 & 23, 24 January 2004WATCH OUT, WATCH OUT! There's a wolf on the loose in Headley! Oh no, I'm mistaken. It's in Woodleigh (which closely resembles Headley) and it's in this year's Headley Theatre Club pantomime production, which has been scripted by the club's resident author, Jo Smith, and could be placed anywhere in rural England.
This startling revelation is made early on in the proceedings by officers of the local constabulary and, from that point on, this wild lupine is destined to threaten the Woodleigh May Day Fair and become the biggest danger ever experienced by Rosie Adams, who plays Little Red Riding Hood. Possibly worse than that, this distraction will most upset Lady Penelope, organiser of the Fair, and that will not be pleasant for anybody, especially her long-suffering husband, Lord Bertrand.
Now, wait for it. This is pantomime and this wolf is an enchanted one - "that makes him top dog round here". No matter we can always hope that the three Elven Queens will see that these enchanted powers are harnessed and no real harm comes to anyone, either in the cast or the audience alike.
In the meantime, most of the audience will know the essential elements of the plot that is to unfold and it is heartening to know that at least one member of the cast, Edwina Noodle, has even read the script and is ahead of the action. "That's cheating!" according to Larry and Fanny Adams. "Oh no, it isn't!" - you know the rest.
As always, this is an energetic performance by members of the club which is much supported by a backstage crew providing excellent scenery, props and costumes for principal actors, chorus members and the ever-captivating junior section.
Musical accompaniment, both live and recorded, hits the mark on many occasions, especially when the Wolf and his chorus sing for his supper.
This production, like all other amateur dramatics, displays the dedication given by a whole team to put on such an entertainment. It's fun and certainly not to be missed.
March 2004 An Evening of One-Act plays
Performed 19, 20 March 2004
I hope you are not amongst a group of local residents who recently missed the latest Headley Theatre Club's triple production. Less than two months since the club staged their annual pantomime season - a time to show off all that theatre can offer - members came together to produce yet another entertaining evening, clearly showing a much greater depth of talent within their ranks than merely pantomime.
Audiences attending the two evening performances were treated to three one-act plays put on by different sections of the club.
The juniors (6-12yrs) opened the evening with an enchanting tale of a singing
pig, talent spotted to make it on the London stage, but who has no greater ambition
than to continue to serenade his own farmyard friends on Old MacDonald's farm.
"Percival the Performing Pig" by Dilys Owen has to be performed to an audience but the play within a play leaves the junior production crew of a Producer (Emily Wang), Stage Manager (Helen Keech) and a Scarecrow narrator (Ashleigh Keech) worrying about the scenery that isn't organised. Budding young actors, however, can be easily made to stand in the shape of a farmhouse, a hotel lobby or even a pig transporting lorry! It's a bit much sweetie, when one has to be a weeping willow, a rubber plant and a bizzy lizzy (Isabelle Glinn) all in the same performance.
No matter, the show must go on; that is, at least until Percival (Sammy Tayler) can only produce a high-pitched whine and pig-like snorting due to the polluted London air. Hiram J. Potter, the aspiring talent scout (played by Mattie Powell) has to concede on his big idea - doctors cannot help Percival - and the disbelieving Theatre Manager (Emily Downs) has to return money to Lord and Lady Posh (Natalie Coward and Katherine Wellen) and the rest of the audience.
That's not the real audience of course. We would have paid twice to see these youngsters tell us the story. But even then the Stage Manager will still not get her "lovely chandelier."
This was an exquisite production directed by Laurie Lewis. The farmyard animals were well dressed and made up with the help of adult club members.
"Ghostwriter" by N. J. Warburton was the production of the
youth group of the club. Another play within a play; here two aspiring writers
are looking to pen an acclaimed whodunit, when a ghost-writer from 300 years
back tells them that they cannot introduce their murderer on stage and expect
the audience to sustain an interest in the subsequent plot.
Through the intervention of the ghost (Chloe Shrubb), we lost no interest at all in this clever short play. We were reminded of key people who influence the production and success of any play: director, producer and even actors and audiences alike. As each of these characters were introduced, the youth group successfully showed us re-winds of scenes written by Jeffery (Daisy Whillians) and Belinda (Carley Barbey) and, each time, the action had moved further from their original script.
When the writers complained that their play had been completely re-written, with many new additions to the cast, the ghost advised that there was a simple remedy, which was to write them all out.
In the final scene, the audience witnessed just that, with bodies strewn across the stage as a host of characters polish each other off. Even Jeffery and Belinda drew weapons on each other and brought about their own demise.
"They don't write plays like that these days," concludes the ghost-writer.
This was fun and it was obvious the youth group enjoyed performing such a fast moving piece, under the direction of Heidi Farnlucher.
"Pastiche" by Nick Hall was the final offering of the evening,
acted out by four members of the adult club. We sat back and listened to the
genteel tones of 'Putting On The Ritz', with little hint of the farce about
to unfold. Sir Peter (Rod Sharp) had met a chorus girl, something his wife,
Lady Alexandra (Penny McKay), would hardly be able to contemplate.
The play opened with her having returned from her own soirée to quietly remind him that they should celebrate their 25 years of marriage. Medford (Paul Kosinski), the butler, had laid out a table for Sir Peter but Lady Alexandra soon understood the entertainment Sir Peter had in mind. A half-hatched plan of interruption and disguise had to be put into action, when Sir Peter introduced Viola Vionysse, otherwise known as Mavis Phelps (Karina Farnlucher).
Whilst Mavis marvelled on the "nice 'ouse", Lady Alexandra hid under the dining table, to eavesdrop on the early assignations of her husband. Meanwhile, Medford, by disguise, had changed role from butler to police constable to butler to violinist to butler ; all interruptions which completely frustrated his master. These distractions were rounded off with the excellent entrance of Lady Alexandra disguised as a Salvation Army officer and, finally, both she and Medford disguised as Sir Peter's mother and wheelchair-bound father. Outrageous!
Needless to say, this had not been a good evening for Sir Peter and Viola, though she reminded us frequently of what her friend Rose would advise. After all, as she informed Sir Peter, 'Rose says, "if music be the food of love .. let's 'ave it"'. The interruptions in this domestic drama had been too great and Sir Peter had little chance of wooing his chorus girl. Viola was also very un'appy and decided to make her own way home 'on a double-decker bus!'
The final moments of this farce were spent with Sir Peter and Lady Alexandra deciding who would sue who for divorce and on what grounds. They realised that the farce that had been enacted reflected their married life, yet each could not do without the other. And so they toasted themselves with Sir Peter uttering those three precious words, "I love you"; Lady Alexandra hearing them for the first time in 25 years.
The audience fell about during this performance and there were few dry eyes in the house. The drama was excellently acted and credit must also be given to Pru Harrold, director, and other members of the adult club who assisted behind the scenes with this and the earlier two productions.
This was an excellent evening of entertainment, enjoyed by all who went along to watch.