Cast announced for ‘Accrington Pals’

The Henley Players’ autumn (15-18 October 2014) production will be The Accrington Pals, by Peter Whelan and directed by Jan Corby.

Director Jan Corby describes this play as follows: The play is set in Accrington, Lancashire. The play’s main focus is on the lives of those who were left behind, especially the women, but also the brave male volunteers, which led to the creation of ‘Pals’ regiments from towns and regions in the U.K. In this particular play The Accrington Pals, the men that faced the horror that was the Battle of the Somme (whose battalion’s formal name was The 11th Battalion and whose names are commemorated on the cenotaph which stands in Oak Hill Park, Accrington). The play is poignant and harrowing but often has comic vignettes which portray the everyday life of a town bereft of men.

Cast:
‘Eva’ – Sabrina Fawcett
‘Sarah’ – Janice Selkirk
‘Bertha’ – Aimee McGoldrick
‘Annie’ – Pam Pitts
‘May’ – Hannah Roberts
‘Tom’ – Harry Petrie
‘Ralph’ – Charlie McMann
‘Reggie’ – Jude Mawbey
‘Company Sergeant Major Rivers’ – Steve Baxter
‘Arthur’ – Andy Marlow

Jan says: “If you would like to help out with this show, please get in touch with me” Jan Corby. We would love to have you involved!”

Quartet Cast & Crew Announced

We are thrilled to have on board for our Spring 2014 production of Ronald Harwood’s Quartet, the following cast and crew (full crew TBC):

Cecily Robson (Cissy) – Jenny Haywood
Reginald Paget – Frank Augur
Wilfred Bond – Andy Marlow
Jean Horton – Caroline Bowder
(Voice of) Bobby Swanson – Geoffrey Atkinson

Director – Bill Bowder
Director’s Assistant/Prompt – Angela Pengilley
Stage Manager – Jerry Anderson
Lighting – Derek Gilbert
Sound – Bruce Smith
Set Design – Bill Bowder/Jerry Anderson/Bruce Smith
Set Painting – Steve Allender
Props – Kate Lindsey, Jo Hunt
Costume – Hannah Roberts
Make-up – Lucia Ercolani
Photography – Ioan Havard
Publicity – Rowena McMenamin, Bill Bowder, Grainne Harling, Kate Lindsey, Jenny Haywood

Giuseppe Verdi. Master of the Human Voice

Georg Briner has kindly written us an absolutely cracking piece on Verdi. Did you know that Verdi was THE superstar composer of his day? Here’s a taster from Georg’s piece: “In the world of opera, Giuseppe Verdi stands as a giant. His works are known and loved all over the world. They were HUGE hits in his own lifetime, as they still are today: Wikipedia counted 2,586 performances of 28 different Verdi operas worldwide in the last 5 years alone, putting him comfortably at the head of the ‘most performed’ league table.”

To read more about the life of this fascinating artist, please access Georg’s full write-up. A translation of the famous Quartet scene is conveniently included.

Summer Sensation

Thanks again to Darrel and Suri Poulos and their family for making us all so welcome at their wonderful home, for The Henley Players Annual Summer Picnic on 30th June. The weather was perfect, and several brave souls took a dip in the lake whilst the less adventurous of us played lawn tennis, croquet or just lolled around under the pagoda making witty observations. Those of you who didn’t make it, you really missed out! Hope to see you at next year’s Summer Picnic.

Great Cast, Great Expectations!

Our Autumn production Great Expectations, is now completely cast and rehearsals are well underway. The cast is as follows:

Herbert Pocket……Harry Petrie
Adult Pip…………..Toby Marlow
Young Pip…………Guillaume Gougeon and Seamus Bringmann
Adult Estella…….Sally Rowlandson
Young Estella…..Olivia Dunning and Annabel Marlow
Jo Gargery………Peter O’Sullivan
Magwitch………..Frank Augur
Mrs Joe………….Liz McEwen
Biddy…………….Jenny Haywood
Mr. Pumblechook…Ian Beyts
Miss Havisham…..Janice Selkirk
Jaggers……………Tim Green
Wemmick…………Andy Marlow
Molly……………….Nansi Diamond
Aged Parent………Bill Port
Young Herbert….Charles Washbourn
Miss Skiffins (non-speaking walk-on)…Ann Jenkins

There was a good turnout for the auditions, and supplementary auditions and the panel had some very difficult choices to make. The directors are Kate Lindsey and Jill Richardson: Jill is working on set design with Bruce Smith. The Stage Manager will be Jerry Anderson, with Liz Cope and Jo Hunt covering props: Jenny Haywood will be dealing with costume, assisted by Angie Green: Hayley Williams will be attending to the hairstyles and Lucia Ercolani to the make-up (to be confirmed). Other details to follow…it should be a great show.

KENTON FESTIVAL SUCCESS!!!

For his performance in the Henley Players’ production of “Say Something Happened”, Frank Augur won the Diamond Shield award for ‘Magic Moment’. This is a discretionary prize given by the adjudicator for something he considers rather special. It could be for anything – lighting, sound, music, a particular effect, etc. David Henson. the adjudicator this year, gave this unique award to Frank for stepping into the role of Dad in ‘Say Something Happened’ when Geoff Atkinson, due to ill health, regretfully had to pull out of the play at the last moment. Frank had just five days notice and effectively two full rehearsals before giving a first class performance on Friday. In the adjudicator’s own words, “he acted his socks off”. So many congratulations, Frank, and to Sally, Wendy, Kate, Ann and the team for a charming play, well-performed and directed.

The support from a good number of Players was much appreciated by the cast…nice to see so many friendly faces! Many congratulations to HAODS, who won two prestigious acting awards, Richard Evans as Best Actor and Angharad Jones as Best Actress, for their performances in “World without Memory”… another tear-jerking performance from Richard. HAODS also picked up the Best Runner-up award, so well done to director Samantha Fields.The overall runaway winners of the festival were the Oxford Theatre Guild (B) with their entry ‘Moving Scenes’. This won 4 prestigious awards, Best Play, Best Original Play, Best Director and Best Supporting Actor…tour de force for them!

GREATEST of EXPECTATIONS!

GREAT EXPECTATIONS Our Autumn 2103 production is to be GREAT EXPECTATIONS, Hugh Leonard’s capable adaptation of the well-loved Dickens novel.

This will be directed jointly by Kate Lindsey and Jill Richardson, and the Stage Manager will be Jerry Anderson: readings have been arranged for 14th. and 16th. May, and auditions for 20th and 21st May, all at Harpsden Hall, and all starting at 8.00p.m. If you can’t make either audition and would like to be considered for a particular role, please contact Kate

A summary of the roles is below ….. GREAT EXPECTATIONS

Cast

Young Pip: Age in the play is 14/15. This part calls for an experienced young actor as he is on stage during much of the action both as the young Pip, and then later takes over as narrator when the older Pip appears. The scene where he meets with the convict Magwitch is iconic as it determines the rest of Pip’s life. A super role.

Older Pip: 25-30 ish. As the early narrator and main protagonist, this is a huge and demanding role. Pip has had a troubled and abused childhood, brought up by his brutal older sister. He meets the young Estella at Miss Havisham’s house and falls hopelessly and obsessively in love with her. He is painfully aware of being lower class and becomes ashamed of his humble origins. He loses sight of his moral compass in his quest to become a gentleman. From then on his life is in turmoil until he finally comes to realise the true values of love and friendship.

Miss Havisham: 40-45 ish. She is very wealthy and eccentric, to the point of being insane. She is an embittered woman after being jilted by her fiancé on her wedding day and has sought revenge on all men ever since. She raises and grooms her adopted daughter, Estella, to break men’s hearts. A powerful role.

Young Estella: Age in the play is 14/15. Again we are looking for a teenager to play Estella in the first part of the play. She is beautiful but spoilt and has been brought up to be cold-hearted and cruel, especially to young Pip who has been invited by Miss Havisham to play with her. They eventually go their separate ways.

Older Estella: 25-30 ish. Estella has grown into a very beautiful woman and has lost nothing of her cold aloofness. She repeatedly tells Pip that she has no heart and announces that she is to marry Bentley Drummle. Pip meets her several years later. Like Pip, her adult life contained many tribulations. Finally her feelings soften towards him.

Joe Gargery: 40-50 ish. Joe, the village blacksmith, “He was a mild, good-natured, sweet-tempered, easy-going, foolish, dear fellow, – a sort of Hercules in strength, and also in weakness”. He, like Pip, constantly falls foul of his wife’s sharp tongue. His love and tenderness towards Pip never diminishes even when the ‘young gentleman’ turns his back on him. In the end Pip is made aware of the debt he owes Joe and seeks forgiveness and reconciliation. They are once more “ever the best of friends”.

Herbert Pocket: 25-30 ish – the same age as Pip. He is a distant relative of Miss Havisham and first encounters young Pip at Satis house. Many years later they meet up again in London and share the same lodgings. He is charged with teaching Pip the ways of being ‘a gentleman’. Herbert is a delightful young man and he and Pip become firm friends. This role brings a lot of lightness and humour to the play. A super character role.

Magwitch: A fearsome criminal and escaped convict who terrorizes Pip when he pounces on him in the cemetery. Magwitch never forgets Pip’s kindness to him in bringing food and drink and many years later, after making his fortune, he tries to repay Pip with money to raise him up out of his lowly roots and to make him ‘a gentleman’. This is a superb character role. Age 50-60ish.

Mrs Joe Gargery: Age 35-40ish. She is a bony, stern, spiteful figure and frequently menaces her husband and her young brother with her cane. She’s ambitious and resents her lowly station of being a mere blacksmith’s wife. She fawns shamelessly upon Mr Pumblechook who she regards as being of a much better class. A strong character part.

Mr Jaggers: Age 50/60 ish. Is lawyer to both Miss Havisham and Magwitch. He is a powerful, foreboding character feared by criminals but not above doing business of a questionable nature with them. He supervises the allowance left by Pip’s benefactor but refuses to reveal who that is. He constantly washes his hands and uses a scented handkerchief – perhaps in an attempt to rid himself of the taint of corruption.

Biddy: A kind-hearted village girl who befriends Pip when as children they attend the local school together and helps Pip with his writing. Although a little older than Pip he thought that if he was never going to marry Estella then Biddy would be the one. She is the opposite to Estella being plain, kind and moral. She nurses Mrs Joe for many years and finally after her death, marries Joe. Age in her 30s (ish)

Mr Pumblechook: He is Joe Gargery’s uncle and therefore uncle-in law to Pip. He’s pompous and arrogant. A corn merchant with his own chaise cart! An avaricious man who shamelessly tries to take the credit for Pip’s rise in fortune and social status because he initially introduced him to Miss Havisham. This is a typical, over the top, Dickensian character. Another great, humorous role. Age over 50.

Wemmick: Clerk to Jaggers. An interesting and demanding role. He has two quite different sides to his character. When in chambers in London he is cold ,severe and businesslike, obsessed with ‘portable property’. At home where he lives with his Aged Parent he changes into a jovial, tender and caring son. He befriends Pip in one of his darkest moments. Age anything between 30-50.

Aged Parent: Age 60 upwards. This is a super cameo role of a kindly, almost totally deaf old man who considers his home as his castle and indeed it is made to look as such with turrets, cannon a mock drawbridge and the flag flying. The scenes with Aged P are among the most amusing of the play.

Molly/Miss Skiffins: These are very small parts. Molly has one line and Miss Skiffins has just a walk-on role Molly is housekeeper to Jaggers and is revealed as Estella’s mother. Miss Skiffins is Wemmick’s lady friend. Molly aged 40ish, Miss Skiffins 20-30ish.

Kate has asked me to say that, apart from the teenage Pip and Estella, all ages are very approximate!

FESTIVALS for 2013

We are now considering possible festival entries. We’ve already read one of Mike Rowbottom’s plays, the very intriguing The Zombies and the Morseline and are happy to look at any other suggestions before we make a final decision…..anyone itching to direct, please let the committee know!!

Cast Announced for Communicating Doors

SPRING 2013 PRODUCTION: COMMUNICATING DOORS by Alan Ayckbourn (March 5th-9th., 2013), directed by our very own Pantomime Dame, Darrel Poulos, fresh from his triumph for the Remenham Thespians! Casting Communicating Doors has taken some time: there were several strong contenders for the various roles, some of which require actors to portray the same character at several different ages, and it has taken time to sort it out.

The cast is as follows:
Reece….Mike Rowbottom
Julian…..James Gwynne
Poopay….Sally Rowlands
Ruella….Grainne Harling
Harold….Michael Mungarvan
Jessica….Claire Taylor

We are very pleased to welcome newcomer Sally Rowlands, fresh from her triumph as ‘Adelaide’ in HAODS’ production of Guys and Dolls, and to welcome back Claire and Mike M, both of whom have only done one show with us before. And of course we are delighted to have the roles of Julian, Reece and Ruella in the experienced hands of James, Mike R, and Grainne. Rehearsals will begin this week. This is a very challenging play, with some gloriously funny scenes, so we wish Darrel and his cast and crew every success!

Club Night News – Change of Venue

We have decided to hold club nights at a new venue: the back bar (The Stable Bar) of The Three Tuns, in Market Place, Henley. This space is better lit and more comfortable for our needs. Please also note that we will now hold our monthly club nights on the first Tuesday of each month. This is to allow more folk to participate. Feedback always welcome. Get in touch with any of the committee members.

Remember, Club Nights take place every month throughout the year, except August and December. All suggestions welcome, and please do consider hosting one yourself – just get in touch with Kate Lindsey. Friends who want to learn more about The Henley Players will be warmly welcomed.