DE LA SALLE PLAYERS
For years after the new clubhouse opened its doors in 1988, people kept saying, “ What a nice little theatre it would make “ and “ Why don't we put on a play”. It's true, we had a natural proscenium arch and an excellent wood block dance floor/stage behind it. Hugh Morton used to say we should put on shows and indeed many performers used it for music, folk singing, discos, tea dances etc. Then in 1999, Val Lunt said firmly, 'We should do a pantomime'. Eventually I got tired of the talk and said, ' If someone will write a pantomime, I will produce it'. So Martin wrote Jack and the Beanstalk which we performed in February 2000 and we've never looked back'
From the word 'go' it was a great success. We worked very hard, we had a lot of fun and we played to packed houses. We selected our players carefully, so we invited one from each of the Club sections to make it truly representative. You can see the cast list in the relevant photo album – the first. When we started rehearsals and were working behind the bottom screens, this group of people were getting to know one another and gales of rather nervous laughter sounded from the bottom room. I was at the bar and one member said to me seriously, 'I think they're enjoying themselves too much, Sheelagh', and I said 'If they're not going to have fun, there's no point in doing it', and it has been like that ever since.
It really did look exciting when we started – a real little theatre. We had no stage and no curtains, just two screens at the back on which Mary Wainwright (aged 15) painted superb scenery for Jack's house and then the Giant's kitchen. She did our scenery for years. She's now a very successful graphic designer for major TV productions. I'm not surprised. Her young sister Judy (13) played 'the Harp' as the giant's slave and sang beautifully. She later helped form the band ‘May ’68’ which toured Europe and performed one year at Glastonbury.
Through Jane Simmerson's good offices we borrowed costumes from the Norton Theatre group. In later years we hired costumes and then Linda Mouland designed and made most of them herself. Terry Green was prompt for that first play. He was a very good prompt, but every time I looked up in rehearsals I'd see him in the middle of the stage saying something, so I said to Martin, “ If we do another play, for goodness sake write a part for your father, because I can't keep him off the stage“. So he did and Terry loved it and proved to be, as did so many others, a natural performer.
Linda Mouland took over as prompt and she was excellent, as were those who followed (see below). Anna and Kate Green were the milkmaids (and tap dancers with Roberta Kelly) and Bridgette Hespe was Milky the cow. (The girls were delighted to trick me on the last night by doing a costume swap.)
Martin Green wrote the play, played the Bean Seller and also played the guitar to accompany the singers. Nick Hopkins was Jack, with Clare Green as Jill. George Windsor made a splendid Giant and pretended to frighten the children, but he preferred going round and giving them sweets. He was ably abetted by Martin Higgins as his wily butler. Bernard Kelly (Pat the Postman) complained seriously at a rehearsal that he was supposed to deliver a letter, but he couldn't get up the path for this massive tree, (ingeniously provided by Los and Linda Green (doing props) Roberta Kelly, as Pat's lad, didn't have many lines, but prompted Bernard to keep shouting with great vigour, “Shut up” which delighted family and professional friends in the audience. David Warrington (Jack's Mother) was a sight to behold in his ball gown and Betty Parkin as Jack's auntie had to do a lot of floor sweeping and ad-libbing if the scene changes took too long.
So many memories of other plays! Bernard as the Emperor Drambuie Shandi in Aladdin, giving with Roberta a superb rendering of ' I'm so far in the red I'm blue' courtesy of Don Valley and the Rotherhides. David Hague and Alan Southeran joined us in that play, David as Aladdin's mother and Alan a toffee-nosed genie, sparring with Martin Higgins as his wide boy opposite number. Then, when Paul Lally as Wishy Washy strode elegantly on to the stage in a white cocktail jacket and toting a gun came out with “The name's Washy – Wishy Washy” Dick Hespe nearly fell off his chair laughing
Bernard Kelley and Martin Higgins were memorable Ugly Sisters in Cinderella. Dick Whittington, Beauty and the Beast, Babes in the Hood and other traditional if slightly modified titles followed. They seemed to click and people kept asking for more.
We progressed in other ways. After a few years, through the good offices of Mick Dooley, we borrowed some portable staging from Notre Dame School. I was visiting schools in the diocese at the time and when one headteacher proudly showed me their portable staging tucked neatly out of sight in a corner of the hall I knew what we needed – our own stage! Management agreed and the present full stage was bought and went away into the new store room when not needed. It didn't take long for us to pay it for it and it has been a great investment.
Roberta Kelly made a complete set of proper stage curtains and she and Bernard put them up every year until fairly recently. Sam Wainwright was roped in to provide ever more sophisticated sound effects and has always risen to some tough challenges from Martin. One remembers the battle scene for Puss in Boats, the huge spider that terrified hard-bitten gunslinger Tony Flatley in Little Red, and more recently the 'Skull' in 'Secret Scrolls'.
One highlight not easily forgotten was the advance of the Scottish hordes in 'Humptius Dumptius' led by Tricia Crehan all in full song and full gear, to vanquish the Roman invaders
After a few years I asked Linda Mouland to share the producing with me and then I retired and Martin joined Linda. Laurence Green increased his creative input with detailed plotlines for Death over Par and Thunderground and a full script for The Snow Queen.
All the plays, except the most recent, are recorded in photo albums with full dates and cast lists, on the shelf on the podium. Feel free to browse. It should kindle some memories! Sheelagh Green
The ‘panto’ as it was initially called, always produced just before Easter each year and therefore outside the strict ‘season’ (largely for the convenience of the cast) has mutated over the last few years to embrace broader ‘genres’. Thus we have produced a Sherlock Holmes murder mystery, a James Bond thriller and an Indiana Jones adventure. The scope for source material is virtually inexhaustible, as both the writers and the cast have to be in order to keep up the (so far) unbroken momentum.
We are particularly proud of our relationship with the St Wilfrid’s Centre who send a party on the first night every year to place a seal of approval (or otherwise) on our efforts. One year I overheard one of the group enjoying a cigarette on the patio saying. “We’re going to see a circus next week. Now that will be good!” Martin Green
Productions to Date
Ø Jack & the Beanstalk
Ø Dick Whittington
Ø Beauty & the Beast
Ø Babes ‘n the Hood
Ø Little Red Riding West
Ø Snow White & the Seven Deadly Sins
Ø Humptius Dumptius
Ø Ma Baker and the Forty Thieves
Ø Mother Goose in Orbit
Ø The Snow Queen
Ø Sherlock Holmes – Death over Par
Ø Idaho Monroe and the Curse of the Secret Scrolls
The Company to Date
Lauren Barney, Tom Barney, Adrian Brook, Diane Capps, Tricia Crehan, Rob Coyle, John Coyle, Catherine Davison, Michelle Devreux, Tony Flatley, Chris Gibirdi, Anna Green, Clare Green, Kate Green, John Green, Judith Green, Laurence Green, Martin Green, Ruth Green, Sarah Green, Terry Green, Will Green, David Hague, Caitlin Hatton, Bridgette Hespe, Martin Higgins, Nick Hopkins, Bernard Kelly, Roberta Kelly, Steve Johns, Steve Jones, Paul Lally, James Manning, Betty Parkin, Tom Scholey, Peter Scholey, Mark Simmerson, Joe Simpson, Pat Sleath, Alan Southeran, Katherine Tooley, Judy Wainwright, Mary Wainwright, David Warrington, Moira Wilson, George Windsor, Sarah Wright,
Mary Wainwright, Martin Green, Linda Mouland
Tickets sales and publicity
Props and Stage Management
Linda Green, Laurence Green
Sound FX and General Technical Wizadry
Linda Mouland, Norton Players, Molly Limpet Company, The Player’s Themselves
Terry Green, Linda Mouland, Pat Sleath, Steve Johns, Emily Brook, Hazel Quarterman
Sheelagh Green, Linda Mouland, Martin Green
Martin Green, Laurence Green, David Quarterman, Dave Evans, & Steve Jones