Hazel has been a Masker since the early 70s, performing in a wide range of roles all the while gathering experience. In the Spring of 2011 she took up the role of director with her first full length production of the comedy Ladies Day and enjoyed every minute. Soon after, she decided to take on the Nuffield Theatre with another comedy, Sitting Pretty, written by Amy Rosenthal - daughter of Maureen Lipman. We were thrilled to have Amy come along and see the show; she thought that this was as good as any professional production. This gave Hazel an enormous boost to direct another play by the ever-popular Alan Ayckbourn, a piece about real people we can all identify with. She says, "I am very fortunate indeed to be able to have the opportunity of directing within such a talented company. We’ve laughed a lot in rehearsal as I know you will in performance. Sit back and feel cosy while winter blows outside, and allow this wonderful cast to tickle you pink!"
The Cast (In order of appearance)
Ray Dixon (shop owner) played by Ken Hann
Ken first appeared at the Nuffield for Maskers in 1970 as a character named Vermin, which says it all really. Over the years he has gathered a fair number of vicars, stiff upper-lip Englishmen, and Regency fops to his repertoire. Having had the privilege of directing four plays at the Nuffield, including King Lear and Uncle Vanya, Ken is looking forward to acting in his third Ayckbourn.
Helen Dixon (Ray's wife) played by Christine Baker
Chris Baker has been a member of Maskers since the 1970s. She was last on stage playing an aged mouse in Can You Hear The Music, for which she won a Daily Echo Curtain Call Award. Chris serves on the Maskers Committee and hopes that the Pendon Pageant committee bears little resemblance.
Donald Evans (a councillor) played by Nick Longland
Tonight marks Nick's debut performance with Maskers as one of our newer members. No stranger to the stage, having been a member of RAODS for a number of years, Nick has featured in a variety of shows including Jack The Ripper at both the Plaza and the Minack theatre. He won the 2014 Curtain Call Award for Best Actor in a Comedy for his role in Private Lives. This will be Nick's second Alan Ayckbourn play; he is looking forward to performing on the Nuffield stage for the first time and very much hopes you enjoy tonight's show as much as he has enjoyed being a part of it.
Audrey Evans (Donald's mother) played by John Souter
John has performed with Maskers for many years in various roles both serious and comic, but this will be his first Alan Ayckbourn play. Having had many challenges on the Nuffield stage, including King Lear, he now faces what will be his greatest and one that demands his ultimate personal sacrifice; to appear before his public in a frock and bare-faced!
Eric Collins & John Cockle played by William Baggs
This is the second time William has performed with Maskers at the Nuffield Theatre. His first visit was in Sitting Pretty in 2014 playing an art teacher. This time it's a modern history teacher, Eric. Eric also happens to be a Marxist! William has never played a Marxist before but it's a lot of fun getting hot under the collar and insulting the other characters. In his last role as Shere Khan in The Jungle Book, William almost got to eat the other characters! Returning to the Nuffield will be a real pleasure as it's a great team and a funny play.
Phillipa (Eric's woman) played by Angie Stansbridge
Angela has been a member of Maskers since 1973 and has enjoyed playing a range of parts at the Maskers Studio, The Nuffield Theatre and in the open air summer productions. She is rarely seen without bundles of publicity flyers as she is part of the hard working marketing team. This means that working on the character of Philippa, who is quiet with little to say and an inability to be heard, has been a challenge!!
Tim Barton (one time Captain) played by Peter Ward
Peter, or Peewee as he is generally known, is a recent engineering graduate, originally from North East England. Quite how he ended up going into theatre, therefore, is a mystery to many people, including himself. Perhaps he got a bit overzealous when watching an Alan Bennett play. Whatever the reason, Peewee is now a regular performer with several companies in the local area with aspirations to go professional in the near future. Recent credits include Officer Barrel in Stickman Productions' Urinetown and Aumerle in Richard II with Maskers.
Sophie Barton (sister to Tim) played by Marie McDade
Marie joined Maskers in 2011 and has had the good fortune to be cast in roles ranging from tragic Shakespeare widow to jungle-dwelling panther, via various other eccentric alcoholics and academics. The opportunity to help bring Ayckbourn to the Nuffield stage is one she could not pass up, not least as it was the best excuse ever to haunt all the charity shops in Hampshire for 70’s gear... Fab!
Lawrence Adamson (a businessman) played by Philip de Grouchy
Philip has been strutting the Southampton stage for more years than he or anyone else can remember, playing a wide variety of roles, from Shakespeare to G&S opera. His current demanding role of Lawrence Adamson luckily provides frequent opportunities for rest and recuperation between drinking and sleeping, so he should last out till curtain-call. You are requested not to applaud too loudly while he is asleep.
Hotel Caretaker played by John Hamon
From John's early days of appearing as a huntsman in The Royal Ballet's Swan Lake and a leading role in the British premier of Cesti's opera The Chaste Love of Orontea to the present day and being on stage at the Nuffield in Ten Times Table as...a caretaker! What does he say about that you may ask? Well nothing really, as it is a non-speaking part for him!
Max Kirkov (Student & Caretaker's assistant) played by David Jobson
Having performed in Richard II and strutted around as Buldeo in The Jungle Book, David is taking a step back into a silent role for this production. A step up, perhaps, from the time he played a lobotomised patient in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, standing at the back with arms up in the crucifixion pose, saying “**** em all” a few times! Still, he made his presence felt by the end, and hopes to do the same here.