One Act One Night – 26th June

One Act One night

With our mini festival of one act plays fast approaching on the 26th June we’ve asked our three new directors on why they wanted to take part

Heres what they said ….

Nancy Jones – Directing ‘Erica and Me’

‘Since joining the group eight years ago I have mainly only acted and watched in awe as the directors and the very talented back stage people put together productions.   Then last year Granville asked me to be his Production Manager for ‘Allo Allo’ and I got to see a different side to Amateur Theatre. It’s not all about being in the spotlight!   Directing a play for 1A1N feels like the next step in becoming a fully rounded member of the Group and who knows it may lead to me directing a full production one day!

I am really looking forward to working with my extremely talented cast and alongside Lisa and Ellie my fellow 1A1N directors to put on, what I hope, is a really entertaining night!

Fingers crossed that I don’t cock it up!   It will be alright on the night won’t it!?’

Lisa Turpcu – Directing ‘A cut above the rest’

Granville first suggested I consider having a go at directing shortly after our Water Lane production of “Calendar Girls”. Deborah Cain (director of CG) would always be a very tough act to follow! So I laughed and said I didn’t know the first thing about directing. (Nancy can confirm she still has to remind me what the term “blocking” means.) Hope this revelation isn’t too concerning for the cast of my upcoming OAON play! I’ve successfully dodged this role for three years. Granville’s not an easy man to say no to, so when he mentioned it again, I somewhat apprehensively agreed to give it a go. I chose a comedy, “A Cut Above The Rest”, which compliments the two other really funny plays to be directed by Nancy and Ellie. My great 10-strong cast and I start rehearsals tomorrow and I’m really looking forward to it. So here’s to a great night out on the 26th of June!

Elle Sims – Directing ‘Two Peas in a Pod’

Why am I doing OAON? Well firstly Granville has been saying I should direct and I was dubious at first. Then he mentioned Liam’s 10minute play which I thought would be a perfect foray into directing. OAON is a really good way to get lots of members involved and a nice starting place for new members to get themselves known. Plus being a member of the committee discussing different plays for the whole cast I’m finding myself more drawn towards directing in a bigger way.

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Blow-up dolls, bangers and big boobies as Stortford theatre says Allo Allo to stage version of classic TV sitcom

BLOW-UP dolls, super-sized sausages and big boobies, with a cockatoo thrown in for good measure, might have Rhodes regulars thinking that the Bishop’s Stortford theatre has a saucy new stage strategy for 2015.

But the inflatables are of Nazi leaders Hitler and Goering, the big bangers are knockwurst, the cockatoo is a disguised radio and the big boobies are on the portrait of The Fallen Madonna by Van Klomp, which can all mean only one thing – it’s ‘Allo ‘Allo!

Subtlety and political correctness go out of the window for three days at Rhodes next month as award-winning Stortford amateur drama group Water Lane Theatre Company brings to life the stage version of the classic 1980s and 90s TV sitcom, which was set in wartime France.

Rehearsals by the 15-strong cast for four performances of the show on February 12, 13 and 14 have been going on since early November.

Those who fondly remember the TV series, which ran for 10 years and 85 episodes from 1982, will be happy to hear that the stage version retains all the characteristics of the small-screen sitcom: it’s a fast-paced, full-on farce, totally inappropriate but totally hilarious, and features a comic feast of cultural clichés and ridiculous fake accents. What’s more, if you yearn for a night of doubles entendres, this show will give you one.

‘Allo ‘Allo! was created and written by the late David Croft and Essex-born Jeremy Lloyd, who died only two days before Christmas. They also created Are You Being Served?

Its premise was not to make fun of the war but to spoof war-based films and TV dramas, in particular 1970s BBC1 drama Secret Army, which dealt with the activities of a Belgian “escape line” that returned Allied pilots to Britain, working from a café. Many of the elements and characters are directly taken from Secret Army, such as the café owner having an affair under the nose of his wife, a bed-ridden woman in a room above who knocks on the floor for attention, a pianist who is also the forger, and the enmity between the Gestapo and the German military.

Rene, a beleaguered café owner in the French village of Nouvion, is beset by his tone-deaf singing wife Edith, Nazis of dubious intent, amorous waitresses, an extremely earnest contact in the Resistance whose orders he follows reluctantly, a womanising Italian captain and an English spy posing as a gendarme who murders the French language every time he opens his mouth.

The Water Lane production – which will culminate in two performances on Valentine’s Day – features Liam Sheils as Rene, Rachel Leung as Edith, Rebecca Faulkner and Juliet Richards as Rene’s waitresses and mistresses Yvette and Mimi, Lisa Turpcu as Resistance leader Michelle, John Bell as Officer Crabtree and veteran Don Cooke as pianist and forger LeClerc.

On the enemy side, Water Lane chairman Richard Pink is Gestapo officer Herr Flick, Amanda Green his aide Helga, Nigel Sudworth as Gruber, Richard Lewin as General von Schmelling, Doug Sheppard as Colonel von Strohm and Observer editor Paul Winspear as Italian army captain Alberto Bertorelli.

Greg Hill and Trevor Siederer complete the speaking cast as airmen Carstairs and Fairfax. There are non-speaking parts for Emma Pink, Amanda Sheppard, Ellie Sims and Kerry Wheeler.

The production is being sponsored by Belleve Hair and Beauty, which has been trading from the former Parsonage Surgery premises in Snowley Parade since late 2012.

It is run by friends Carol Copper, who has been hairdressing since she was 13 and used to own Strand hairdressers on the Havers Lane estate, and Esther Brewer, the salon’s beauty therapist, who has more than 20 years’ experience.

Tickets are £15 per ticket (concessions £12.50) with one ticket free with every group booking of eight or more. Contact Rhodes on (01279) 710200 or online at http://www.rhodesbishopsstortford.org.uk.

Read more: http://www.hertsandessexobserver.co.uk/Stage-version-classic-80s-TV-sitcom-coming-Rhodes/story-25884573-detail/story.html#ixzz3PTtCj3Fa
Follow us: @HertsEssexObser on Twitter

Allo Allo Hits Rhodes in February

LISTEN very carefully – we shall say zis only wurnce! Award-winning Bishop’s Stortford amateur drama group Water Lane Theatre Company is venturing into war-torn France for the stage version of 1980s TV sitcom ‘Allo ‘Allo!

Rehearsals by the 15-strong cast for four performances of the show at Rhodes in Stortford next February (12-14) begin in earnest on November 4.

It’s a fast-paced, full-on farce, totally inappropriate but totally hilarious, featuring a comic feast of foreign stereotypes and doubles entendres.

Rene, a beleaguered café owner in the French town of Nouvion, is beset by his tone-deaf singing wife Edith, Nazis of dubious intent, amorous waitresses and an extremely earnest contact in the Resistance whose orders he follows reluctantly.

Those who fondly remember the TV series, which ran for 10 years from 1982, will be relieved to hear that it features German sausages, an Italian captain who has spent more time servicing Fiats and ‘bee-youtifulla lay-dies’ than time at the front and an Englishman posing as a French policeman who clearly can’t speak the language – not to mention the masterpiece painting ‘The Fallen Madonna with the Big Boobies’ by master knocker painter Van Klomp.

The production – which will culminate in two performances on Valentine’s Day – features Liam Sheils as beleaguered cafe owner Rene, Rachel Leung as his wife Edith, Rebecca Faulkner and Juliet Richards as his waitresses and mistresses Yvette and Mimi, Lisa Turpcu as Resistance leader Michelle, John Bell as Officer Crabtree and Don Cooke as Leclerc.

On the enemy side, Water Lane chairman Richard Pink is Gestapo officer Herr Flick, Amanda Green his aide Helga, Nigel Sudworth as Gruber, Richard Lewin as General von Schmelling, Doug Sheppard as Colonel von Strohm and Observer editor Paul Winspear as Italian army captain Alberto Bertorelli.

Teenagers Matthew Port and Ryan Bull complete the speaking cast as airmen Carstairs and Fairfax. There are non-speaking parts for Emma Pink, Amanda Sheppard, Ellie Sims, Kerry Wheeler, Greg Hill and Trevor Siederer.

Tickets are £15 per ticket (concessions £12.50) with one ticket free with every group booking of eight or more. Contact Rhodes on (01279) 710200 or online at http://www.rhodesbishopsstortford.org.uk

Read more: http://www.hertsandessexobserver.co.uk/Water-Lane-Theatre-Company-tap-TV-gold-Allo-Allo/story-23109049-detail/story.html#ixzz3OuGDFD83
Follow us: @HertsEssexObser on Twitter

Stortford’s Water Lane Theatre Company keeps it in the family for summer production

Written by NATALIE DEARMAN

STORTFORD’S Water Lane Theatre Company has put the focus firmly on families for its latest production – in more ways than one.

Not only is next weekend’s open-air picnic production of The Storytellers – which focuses on four popular fairy tales – aimed at bringing family members together, but several of the cast are related.

The production is directed by husband and wife John and Pam Johnson-Cook, who have a long association with the Bishop’s Stortford amateur drama group.

Fellow member Jacqui Kinnison, who has been with Water Lane for more than 35 years, acted with Pam in her first play, Harliquinade, in the late 1980s.

Having taken on many roles since then, Jacqui says she is delighted to be acting this summer with granddaughters Annalise, 12, and Grace, 9.

Annalise, who has acted with Water Lane before in The Country Wife, will play a page and a robber, while Grace, making her debut, will take on the roles of a clockwork nightingale and an elf.

Both girls said they were “excited to be following in Nana’s footsteps”.

Sisters Kerry Wheeler, 18, and Ellen, 14, will play princesses and robbers in the production.

Kerry performed in the company’s previous production, The Cherry Orchard, and after Ellen saw how much fun she had she decided to sign up, too.

Sarah O’Flaherty acted at school and at university and has been with Water Lane for three years.

This year, her daughters Sophie, 10, and six-year-old Evie are taking part for the first time, playing a nightingale and an elf respectively.

They have taken part in productions at Northgate Primary School and with Phoenix Theatre.

Sophie says she is looking forward to acting in a big production while Evie says that although she is a bit nervous, it is “great fun” and she has made lots of new friends.

Performances of The Storytellers will take place in the Monastery Gardens in Windhill on Saturday, July 19 at 2pm and 6pm, and on Sunday, July 20 at 2pm.

Tickets are £10 for adults, £5 for children and £25 for a family ticket.

They are available at http://www.waterlanetheatrecompany.co.uk and at the Tourist Information Centre.

If it rains, the performances will be held in St Michael’s Church.

Meet the husband and wife behind Water Lane Theatre Company’s latest production, The Storytellers

By Natalie Dearman 

 

THE husband and wife behind Water Lane Theatre Company’s next production, The Storytellers, are proof that couples who play together stay together.

John and Pam Johnson-Cook have a long and happy association with the Bishop’s Stortford amateur drama group.

Pam joined in the late 1980s to act in a production titled Harlequinade. Having previously studied English and drama at Hockerill – a teacher’s training college at the time – she worked for a short time in at Waterside School when it was in Windhill and then in Ware. Having two young daughters fitting it all in took some juggling!

Meanwhile, John, a keen watercolour painter, was working at a dental practice in the town.

When Pam discovered that Water Lane had lost its scenery designer and painter, she roped John in to try his hand at the job and he has produced nearly all of the theatre company’s sets ever since.

After a few years of acting, Pam was encouraged to try directing and found that she really enjoyed it. She has gone on to direct The Big Cats – a winner in the East Herts Drama Festival at Rhodes – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Pinocchio, Outside Edge and The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe to name a few.

John, however, is happier behind the scenes where his motto is “if it’s not moving paint it” – sometimes even if it is moving!

He has been persuaded onto stage a couple of times in very short roles and once when one of the leading actors got stuck in Amsterdam was thrust on stage with a script in hand. He was too stunned to worry and quite enjoyed it but not enough to take to the boards permanently.

The Storytellers is the group’s first outdoor production for children and families and will raise funds for Grove Cottage.

Pam was hoping to direct the production two years ago but unfortunately, as both her parents were ill, it had to be postponed so she is keen to see it come to fruition this year. So bring a picnic and enjoy the show!

The play will be performed at the Monastery Gardens in Windhill on Saturday, July 19 (2pm and 6pm) and Sunday, July 20 (2pm).

Tickets are £10 adults, £5 children and £25 for a family ticket and are available from http://www.waterlanetheatrecompany.co.uk or the Tourist Information Centre in Market Square.

If the weather is unkind, the performance will take place inside St Michael’s Church.

How I came to make my acting debut at 50 by Paul Winspear

LAST month we reported how four fresh faces will be among the cast of Water Lane Theatre Company’s next production, The Cherry Orchard, in Bishop’s Stortford.

“Fresh” is stretching it in the case of one of that quartet – me.

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Next Thursday (April 10), at the age of 50, I will make my acting debut – and I’m still not sure how or why.

Actually, the “how” can be explained by the fact that when I bumped into Richard Pink, chairman of the Stortford-based amateur drama group, at a 27 Strings gig over Christmas and asked him how things were going for The Cherry Orchard, he told me they were one short for the cast.

“Why? You’re not interested are you?” he asked. “You are! I can see it in your eyes!”

After a meeting over a pint about what was entailed – two-hour rehearsals twice a week for three months and memorising the longest, driest speech in Tom Stoppard’s adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s 1904 play, apart from performing on stage for three nights in front of (hopefully) 200 people – I was asked to do a reading with director John Bell.

With Richard and Nancy Jones, who play the lead characters of Yermolai Lopakhin and Liubov Andreevna Ranevskaya, looking on, I waited for my cue and delivered my first line.

The trio greeted it with the kind of rapturous applause and acclaim that I can only dream will be matched by the audiences at next week’s performances at Hockerill Anglo-European College.

Not because I delivered it with any great talent that sent shockwaves around the acting world, but because my line was just two words – Nancy’s character’s name – and I pronounced it in passable Russian.

“You’ve got the part,” was the verdict.

This may imply that Water Lane will accept anyone (which it turns out they do), but it is worth pointing out that their last two productions, The Winslow Boy and Calendar Girls, have taken two of the three nominations in the best drama category at this year’s regional NODA (National Operatic and Dramatic Association) awards.

And it is not borne out by the talent I’ve seen at rehearsals in the Water Lane United Reformed Church hall on Tuesday and Thursday evenings.

I am in awe of the ability of my fellow cast members. The mannerisms and vocalisations of, for example, Granville Rush as the eccentric Uncle Gaev, Doug Shepperd as the equally larger-than-life Boris Simeonov-Pishchik and Nigel Sudworth as Yepikhodov the clerk are a joy to behold.

However, what I may lack in acting ability is made up for in physical appearance.

At various stages my character, the ‘eternal student’ Petya Trofimov, is described as “a mangy-looking gentleman” with a “heavily lined face” who has “lost his looks” and “must do something about that beard”.

This does not require any ‘method acting’ on my part.

As I make my way home from rehearsals (via the Half Moon), with the references to my appearance ringing in my ears, I console myself with the fact that Mr Bell thinks I can pass in public for a 27-year-old student. Of course, costume and lighting will help.

And so, with a week to go until curtain-up and rehearsals set to intensify as we upgrade to daily run-throughs, it remains only for me to hope and to pray that I – and, more importantly, it – will be all right on the night.

It would be lovely to see you, dear reader, at Hockerill next week.

Chekhov’s comedy-drama – think “a Russian Downton Abbey with oddballs” – deals with the social upheaval faced by pre-revolutionary Russia in the early 20th century.

Performances of The Cherry Orchard, sponsored by Stortford jeweller FJ Zelley and in support of Isabel Hospice, will take place at Hockerill Anglo-European College in Dunmow Road from Thursday, April 10 to Saturday, April 12. The performance starts at 7.30pm each night.

There will be a further performance at Hertford Theatre on Thursday May 1 during Hertford Theatre Week.

Tickets are available online from http://waterlane.ticketsource.co.uk/ or from Bishop’s Stortford Tourist Information Centre in Market Square.

Feast your eyes on the Orchard.

Don Cooke triumphs at NODA Awards

Stortford drama veteran wins award for The Winslow Boy – 63 years after he made his stage debut in the play Written by NATALIE DEARMAN

WATER Lane Theatre Company doyen Don Cooke crowned his lifelong association with The Winslow Boy by accepting an award for the Bishop’s Stortford am dram group’s production of the drama – 63 years after making his acting debut in the play.Untitled

The 78-year-old directed Water Lane’s staging of Terence Rattigan’s 1946 drama at the Bishop’s Stortford High School last October and November.

And on Sunday (April 27) it was named best play in its district – one of 13 which make up the National Dramatic and Operatic Association’s East of England region – at the NODA East 2013 gala lunch awards in St Ives, Cambs.

It was the second time in 33 years that Don had taken the helm of a Water Lane production of Rattigan’s masterpiece.

And he was just 15 when he made his debut in a 1951 staging of the drama, which is based on a true event in 1908 England about a father’s fight to clear his teenage son’s name after the boy is expelled from naval college for stealing a five-shilling postal order.

On Sunday, Don was accompanied by fellow Water Lane stalwart Pat Bastin – a member since 1976, who played Grace Winslow in last autumn’s show – when he went up to collect the award.

Under Don’s direction, Pat’s grandson, Bishop’s Stortford College student Ben Sudworth, made his stage debut as her on-stage son, title character Ronnie Winslow, at the age of 13.

Water Lane’s April 2013 production, Calendar Girls, directed by Deborah Cain, was shortlisted in the same category, giving the Stortford company two of the three nominations.

Chairman Richard Pink said: “Both were brilliant and stand testament to the quality and standard of productions we at Water Lane put on.”