Our next production will be “Mr Bennet’s Bride” by Emma Wood. This production will be co-directed by Paula Vickers and Zarina Belk at Grassington Town Hall on 19th, 20th and 21st October.
As it is the bicentenary of Jane Austen’s death, we thought this would be an appropriate comedy drama. Everyone knows the characters of 'Pride and Prejudice' and 'Mr Bennet's Bride' takes a closer look at two greatly loved characters, Mr and Mrs Bennet, examining a time earlier in their lives, twenty five years before the novel is set (play setting 1780s). It presents an account of how this ill matched couple met, and why they decided to marry - a decision at least one of them would repent for many years afterwards!
A lovely comedy drama, with regency set and costumes, with characters all will enjoy, tickets will be on sale at Grassington Hub from mid September.
A healthy percentage of our current membership arrived on cue (for the most part) for the society’s AGM on 17th July.
The committee, players and crew members were rewarded with an excellent evening buffet at The Old Hall in neighbouring Threshfield.
President Joan Whitaker was encouraged by the support shown by members while Chairman Mary Wilkinson reviewed the success of the previous year and looked to the future with Treasurer Zarina Belk reporting a healthy picture.
The existing committee were re-elected unanimously en-masse and their hard work was commended by all.
Rehearsals are starting now for the autumn production, scheduled for October 19th-21st. Mr Bennet’s Bride by Emma Wood is a new play which is a prequel to Pride and Prejudice, chosen as this is the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death. With a strong cast directed by Paula Vickers and Zarina Belk, the production promises to be a great excuse to show off the skills of the Players costume and make-up team.
We continue to appeal for new members, especially in the ‘middle’ age range 20-40 to appear on stage, and for new Directors.
Anyone interested in joining the company should contact Mary Wilkinson on 01756 752740 or call informally to rehearsals to meet some of the company on Mondays or Thursdays at 7.30pm at The Devonshire Institute (Town Hall) in Grassington.
In a break with tradition we are opting out of a spring production this year and are instead holding a series of workshops.
Duncan Lewis, who has very kindly offered to run these workshops is a former professional theatre Stage Manager and Director. In the last 10 years Duncan has worked extensively throughout the UK and abroad and has worked in the West End. He ran London's leading lunchtime theatre company, has had various stints in repertory theatre and was right-hand man to Sir Alan Ayckbourn at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough for three years.
A fantastic opportunity for performers of all abilities to meet and learn, you do not have to have any previous acting experience. Just come along and join us for an evening of fun and entertainment.
We stepped back into the 60's for this Philip King and Falkland Cary farce set in the office of the Chunkibix Biscuit Factory. Mr Price-Hargreaves rules the roost with secretary Miss Spencer catering for his every whim. Poor Mr Bloome is very much the underdog in the office until the day he is accused of accosting and chasing a young girl. Suddenly he becomes a hero, a 'real man' of the firm and he gains celebrity status. I'm not sure how PC this would be nowadays but in the 60's we obviously didn't notice.
There were some great performances in this production and it was good to see new young faces in the cast. Katie Milner as the office girl Fiona was very relaxed in her role.It is not easy opening a play alone on the stage but she was completely at ease as a trendy teenager. She was joined by fellow office worker Harold (Tom Powell) and the two of them were an excellent addition to the cast. The blustering Mr Price- Hargreaves ( Mark Bamforth) brought his experience to the stage and dominated the office over the nervous Mr Bloome (Richard Sutcliffe) until the tables turned in the second act. Mr Bloome's transformation was very convincing and highly amusing.
Paula Vickers as the long suffering secretary was excellent in her role and very amusing. She had wonderful facial expressions and her transformation in the final scene was brilliant.
The partnership between Mr Price-Hargreaves and Mr Bloome worked well and they handled their role reversal in the second act very well.
Miss Spencer's niece Doris (Emily Hobbs) the cause of all the confusion, was excellent in her part and there was a pleasing performance from Jennifer Scott as the overbearing Lady Chesapeake.
The costumes brought back many memories and had been well put together for the 60's look.
This was a wonderful romp with lots of funny moments and a great selection of songs both at the start of the play and during the interval. I must confess to knowing the words to all of them.
Director David Newall
Assistant Director Zarina Belk
What constitutes a ‘straight’ play, which, according to director Andrew Jackson, Entertaining Angels by Richard Everett was? Well, it had laughs, but wasn’t a comedy; tension in the plot, but it wasn’t a thriller and there was a partly unexplained death, but it wasn’t a whodunit. So a straight play must be one that combines all these disparate elements into a satisfying and entertaining whole as that’s what this production admirably achieved.
Set in a vicarage garden Entertaining Angels takes that most English of settings and subverts it somewhat showing us a snapshot of four lives upset from an outwardly idyllic present by the sudden death of the fifth character Bardolph, the vicar, played calmly and with a quiet authority by Andrew Jackson himself. Apart for the shock of his death Grace is forced by a sudden revelation from her sister Ruth to confront Bardolph's ghost and the truth of their marriage while therapist daughter Jo has to analyse her own feelings and future plans when new vicar Sarah confides some un-clergy like secrets.
The performances required skill and tact so that the strong emotions evinced by these events didn’t come across as melodramatic and that the upset and hurt experienced by all members of the cast looked realistic and authentic. Emma Shepherd as Jo and Sarah Vetch as Sarah developed the friendship between the two characters in a believable way in the short time allowed while Bev Cuerden as the revelatory wayward missionary sister Ruth moved at least one audience member to tears with her heartfelt reactions to the events her confession precipitated. The play though had to centre on Grace, at once sharp and witty, uncertain and confused, angry and hurt and Penny Hart-Woods gave an exemplary performance managing to convey all the breadth of these feelings without putting a foot wrong.
Mention must also go to the wonderful setting, realised by Barrie Doyle and Derrick Lee but the plaudits go to the cast and direction in this compelling ‘straight’ play.
This years Old Time Music Hall evenings saw some truly consummate performances from
the best of our local talent. Playing to full houses on both evenings the audience
feedback we received was truly heartwarming and certainly made all the hard work
worthwhile. We will of course be doing another Dickensian show next year.
In the meantime we will be planning and making preparations for our Spring production.
Watch this space for more information!
Pictures taken during rehearsals for Big Bad Mouse.
The cast for Big Bad Mouse are now in the final leg of rehearsals and from what we have seen of it so far its going to an absolute corker of a show!
This frequently revived 1960s British stage play and theatrical comedic farce that, although not specifically written for them, became famous as a loose vehicle for the many talents of the British comedy actors Jimmy Edwards and Eric Sykes has constantly seen various revivals with other stars right up to the present day. It was a top attraction in London's West End for three years between 1967 and 1970 and the anarchic pair brought their own talents to play and twisted the plot and dialogue out of all recognition.
Although we sadly do not have Edwards and Sykes in our production, we have several of Grassington Players finest comedy talents to bring this hysterical play to life.
Today (9th June 2014) we said goodbye to a stalwart of the Players who died tragically young after a battle with cancer. She played to a full house for her final curtain call as we flocked in our droves to pay our respects.
The show must go on, of course, but there will be one less star on the stage, in the wings, the dressing room, committee and the cake stall. We hope she will be our muse instead.
God bless, Es, and thanks for all the laughs.
A full house thoroughly enjoyed the Grassington Players’ 90th anniversary show ‘A Bit of Comedy Tonight’ on Saturday after warm feedback from audiences on Thursday and Friday evenings.
Amateur dramatic societies often cry out for more men and more young members. It is a sign of the strength of this society that the guys out-numbered the girls and skilled teenagers played an important part in the production. At the opposite end of the spectrum a dazzling performance by an octogenarian had the audience in stitches.
The show was a revue including some golden excerpts from the last 60 years of comedy, from the famous “Elephant in a Box” sketch right up to Blackadder. Bev Cuerden put it all together and produced the show, which is a much more difficult job for a compendium than it appears, and her success was clear for all to see.
The performance sparkled. No prompts. No awkward moments. Just a very enjoyable evening from start to finish. When the standard is high it is dangerous to pick out performances as readers will assume the rest fell short. In this case they certainly did not. So what follows should be treated as a very personal reaction. I loved the “Elephant in a Box” which was a gem of a performance. I thought Lottie Cuerden’s interpretation of a Guys and Dolls number was beautifully understated and Tom Powell in Spamalot showed he has a great talent which has not yet been fully utilised.
Altogether a wonderful evening from a very skilled cast. But next time Mrs Slocombe appears on the Grassington stage, please may we be treated to her feline double entendre?
Octagon Theatre, Grassington, 9th, 10th and 11th May
What an exceptionally thought-provoking production this was, and how very privileged I feel to have attended it! The play is an enormous challenge to perform, and in the hands of less talented actors could be an absolute disaster, but certainly not so in the very capable hands of Grassington Players. What is Waiting for Godot about? Another member of the audience asked me that question, and I replied “Whatever you want it to be.” A much quoted review states that it is a play where nothing happens, twice over. My, of course subjective, view is that, like all existentialist work, it is about the pointlessness of life. We carry out our little routines every day, constantly trying to improve ourselves, our homes, our careers, our lives in the belief that in the fullness of time all our expectations will be fulfilled. When Godot arrives everything will be better. Towards the end of both acts a goatherd boy enters and tells the two tramps that Godot will not be coming today, but will surely come tomorrow. However, Godot, in common with tomorrow, never comes, but maybe tomorrow will be different……. Perhaps even the name is a significant sobriquet; Vladimir only ever calls his companion Gogo, while Estragon calls his Didi. Their full names appear only in the cast list. Could Godot be a pet name for the deity? Even the goatherd boy, most admirably played by the young Jim Mallalieu-Black with humble deference to the tramps, could be seen as a prophet announcing a brighter future. Despite the sombreness of the play, where more than once Estragon suggests they commit suicide, there was much humour and it was splendid to hear Grassington’s Octagon Theatre resounding with laughter. Leslie Kerkham’s optimistic and loquacious Didi was a splendid foil to Mark Balmforth’s dour and absent-minded Gogo, and Andrew Jackson’s Pozzo was a vile, cruel and controlling monster to the hapless and ironically named Lucky of John Anderson, who has only one speech, but what a virtuoso one it is! What was not noticeable, because it was so subtly well done, was the comic timing, allowing any nuance to be appreciated by the audience without slowing down the performance or becoming laboured. Very, very well done to all concerned, both on and off stage, for putting on such a wonderful production and one I shall always remember.