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in Northampton since 1932

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Page last updated: 14/12/2012 Masque Theatre © 2012

80 Years of Masque Theatre:
Four Score and Then
by various writers

Sun 7 October 2012 at 4.00pm
Royal & Derngate, Guildhall Road, Northampton


Production No. 391

More images from the 80th Anniversary Celebration

PREVIEW
Ursula Wright, director


Eighty years of drama
Both on and off the stage
Acting to please you
Plays from every age …

You’ll be hearing a lot more of that at the Royal Theatre on Sunday 7 October, as Peter Quince (Barry Dougall, with ukulele), Nick Bottom (Richard Jordan), Peter Robinson (Francis Flute) Tony Janney (Robin Starveling), Ste Applegate (Tom Snout) and Mark Farey (Snug the joiner) take us on a journey that starts in New York just before the great Depression and ends at the Millennium, with its promise of a new and better world ahead.

We stop on the way in a wood near Athens, an Edwardian drawing room, an absurd rehearsal room, a fashionable London town house, a remote Russian dacha and the Pit at the Barbican.

Who better to be our guides than the archetypal am-dram group created so accurately and affectionately by Shakespeare in A Midsummer Night’s Dream?

A company of 55 Masque Theatre members (including 12 from the present Youth Theatre) have been working since April on the separate pieces of this theatrical jigsaw and are looking forward to assembling it at the Dress Rehearsal on September 30 – and seeing for the first time what everyone else has been up to!

As well as a large and talented cast, we have expert backstage support: costumes have been designed by Denise Legge, stage-management is by Jo Molyneux and Jon Wilkinson, assisted by Verity Johnson, and Tamsyn Payne has brought together a team of hair and make-up artists. Musical direction is by Kaye Tompkins and choreography by Victoria Curtis.

All that is missing now is you – the life-blood of theatre everywhere, both professional and amateur.

Cast & Crew

STREET SCENE
by Elmer Rice
Greta Fiorentino Patricia Coleman
Emma Jones Rachel Bedford
Olga Olsen Victoria Curtis
Anna Maurrant Mindy Robinson
Carl Olsen Richard Walker
Frank Maurrant Jeremy Smith
George Jones Fraser Haines
Steve Sankey Matthew Fell
Agnes Cushing Suzanne Richards

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM
by William Shakespeare
Peter Quince Barry Dougall
Nick Bottom Richard Jordan
Francis Flute Peter Robinson
Robin Starvelling Tony Janney
Tom Snout Ste Applegate
Snug Mark Farey

A WOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE
by Oscar Wilde
Lady Hunstanton Jan Stoppani
Lady Caroline Anita Gayton
Lady Stuttfield Denise Swann
Mrs Allonby Kate Billingham

NEXT TIME I'LL SING TO YOU
by James Saunders
Dust
Fraser Haines
Meff Matthew Fell
Rudge Owen Warr
Lizzie Emily Bale
Hermit David Dunkley

THE COUNTRY WIFE
by William Wycherley
Margery Pinchwife
Emma Payne
Alithea Liz Clarke
Pinchwife Phil Perkis
Lady Fidget Bernadette Wood
Miss Dainty Fidget Rosemary Chapman
Mrs Squeamish Suzanne Richards

THE CHERRY SISTERS
by Michael Green
Basha
Sophia Monk
Gnasha Doreen Wright
Veruka Ingrid Heymann
Footrotski Richard Walker
Piles Owen Warr
Captain Sodov Rob Kendall
Schoolmaster Kevin Pinks
Stationmaster Roger Toone
Babushka Sue Howes

THE SHAKESPEARE REVUE
compiled by Christopher Luscombe and Malcolm McKee

Ladies of London
words by Carol Brahms and Ned Sherrin from the musical No Bed For Bacon, music by Malcolm McKee
Doll Tearsheet Rachel Bedford
Doll Common Sophia Monk
Doll Overdone Mindy Robinson
Mistress Quickly Patricia Coleman

So That's The Way You Like It
by Alan Bennett, Peter Cook, Jonathan Miller and Dudley Moore from Beyond the Fringe
Actor Martin Borley-Cox

In Shakespeare's Day
words by Anthony Drewe, music by George Stiles
Wardrobe Mistress Doreen Wright
Ice Cream Seller Lauren Shaw
Prompter Emily Bale
Musician Richard Oliver
Stage Manager Matthew Berrill
Keyboard Kaye Tompkins

ZERO ZERO
by Brian Wright and Richard York
Sasha Lynette Ashton
Stonemason Edward Toone
Maidservant Helen Jenkinson
Civil War Soldier Scott Bradley
Vagrant Verity Johnson
Shoemaker Ste Applegate
Messenger Boy Ethan Monk
Youth Theatre Alice Fitt, George Fitt, Imogen Fitt, Lewis Marks, Daniel Sanders, Jasmine Smellie, Mollie Taylor, Aneurin Tomkins, Briony Tomkins, Noah Walters, Amy Whitestone
Voice of Kira Jean McNamara
Choreography Victoria Curtis

Director Ursula Wright
Musical Director Kaye Tompkins
Additional Material Brian Wright
Costume Design Denise Legge
Stage Manager Jo Molyneux
Deputy Stage Manager Jon Wilkinson
Assistant Stage Manager Verity Johnson
Costumes The Works, Denise Legge, Dorothy Granger
Hair and Make-up Sidonie McDowell, Tamsyn Payne
Assisted by Nici Jones, Emma Banks
Poster / Programme design Martin Borley-Cox
Assisted by Tamsyn Payne
Photography Joe Brown
Masque at 80 Co-ordinator Peter Borley-Cox

The cast and crew on the Royal Theatre stage

The cast and crew on the Royal Theatre stage. Photo by Ian Clarke

REVIEW
Michael Green, Masque Vice-President


I really have to write to the newsletter and say what a wonderful success the 80th birthday celebration was at the Royal in October. After more than 60 years in amdram I’ve been to several similar occasions, but this beat them all. It was a really glorious triumph and I congratulate everyone.

It would be invidious to single out individuals but the production was superb. Frankly, I worried beforehand about how a difficult event like this could be organised but it flowed deftly and smoothly and miracles of stage organisation were performed. Thanks for the public greeting I got and for the big hand when I stood up.

Great to see so many familiar faces. It reminded me of my first part with the old Drama Club, as Prince of Aragon in the Merchant of Venice in Abington Park in 1948. And there was one person present who remembered that production, none other than the evergreen Alison Dunmore, who was a member at the time although I’m not sure if she actually worked on The Merchant, as in those days she was bringing up her young family. I also think Jean Macnamara saw that production and the following year we played together in The Rivals, her first part with the group. I was Sir Lucius O’Trigger and she played a servant (“Two lines” she says bitterly). This production was in the old Exeter Hall off the Kettering Road where all our major indoor productions were held until the move into The Masque Theatre in Thenford Street in 1951. Incidentally it’s not correct to think that productions at the old headquarters in Thenford Street only began when it was transformed into The Masque Theatre. When I joined in 1948 we already had a thriving programme of events there, except that main shows were in the Exeter Hall. Apart from rehearsals and social events there were regular Sunday evening shows even though the surroundings were a little rough. But we had a stage and an auditorium and that’s enough.

Sunday evenings were the big attraction, artistically and socially. There were lectures (we even got a London critic down to talk about his job), debates, one-man shows, poetry readings, films, a revue, puppet theatre and above all one-act plays which gave a chance for new talent to show itself. The finals of our one-act play competition were held there and I have to confess that a play by myself won one year. It may have been the only entry of course.

No wonder we old timers groan for the return of those days but it does need premises of our own. Since leaving Northampton in 1950 I have been involved with four theatre groups, each one of which had its own theatre. The Crescent Birmingham had to leave their old premises but built a splendid new theatre up the road. The Questors, Ealing, used a converted tin chapel, tore it down and built a magnificent flexible new theatre in the grounds. Teddington Theatre Club, lost their lease and built a state-of-the-art of theatre in a main street. Richmond Shakespeare Society were homeless until 25 years years ago when they got hold of a derelict tiny chapel by the river and turned it into a little gem of a theatre with 96 seats. There have been three theatres at Moulton since I left Northampton, not to mention The Playhouse in Northampton.

I think we have to ask ourselves do we sincerely want our own premises? And if so, why can others do it and not us?

But enough of the past. The birthday celebrations convinced me that the Masque is still in good hands and in fine form. Congratulations and thanks to all.

Michael’s latest play is Umlaut, Prince of Dusseldorf and is obtainable from Samuel French, London.

           
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