The Director of this production is Philip de Grouchy
Philip has been a Masker for fifty years, mainly as a performer, but with occasional forays into directing. He has directed quite a few Christmas shows over the last fifteen years or so and also directed The Beggar's Opera. He hopes you enjoy this latest foray!
The Author of our playlet is Brian Stansbridge
Brian is best known as an actor and director, with his most recent credits being the role of Falstaff in The Merry Wives of Windsor and directing Much Ado About Nothing for our summer show in 2021. He has, however, been known to turn his hand to writing the odd sketch, poem or song lyric. In 2020, all that changed! Covid caused all our theatres to close and we were desperate to find a way to continue delivering theatre to the people of Southampton and the surrounding area. At his wife Angela’s bidding, he sat down to create a short piece that we could perform in the open air at various parks and gardens. The result was Park Life, a two handed play about a friendship blossoming in the adversity of the pandemic. Many people saw and enjoyed the performances. Buoyed up by this success, Brian went on to start a full-length play (still in the pipeline) and a piece originally intended for Christmas 2020 but, again, thwarted by Covid. So… tonight, at no expense whatsoever …. Brian hopes you will enjoy his cheeky little peek behind the scenes at the Cratchit home. We hope that Mr. Dickens will forgive him.
Assistant Director for this production is Jillian Desborough
Bob Cratchit is played by Bandy Smith
This is Bandy’s first show with Maskers. He has previously been in a couple of pantomimes, playing Prince Charming and Caesar. Bandy has enjoyed the rehearsals and has been made to feel really welcome. When he is not treading the boards, he works as a barber in his shop at Foyes Corner. He hopes you all enjoy his spin on Bob Cratchit’s character.
Mrs. Emily Cratchit is played by Hazel Burrows
Hazel has been a keen Masker since the early 70s. Over the years she has taken up a huge variety of roles, as well as directing, set design, painting and costume design. Hazel has been on the committee as membership officer and social secretary, always welcoming people into the company with enormous enthusiasm and a sunny smile. Over the last year Hazel has been seen in our production of Ugly Lies the Bone as a psychiatrist and in our open air production, The Three Musketeers.
Her favourite role over the years was in The Beauty Queen of Leenane, a dark Irish comedy. Hazel is hoping to direct another show next year, a comedy, an aspect of theatre she enjoys immensely.
Martha Cratchit is played by Molly McDade
This is Molly’s third Christmas show with Maskers, having been performing with the company since 2014. She has recently been in two productions with Southampton Operatic Society (Legally Blonde and Crazy for You) at the MAST Studios, and before that has been in several Maskers’ productions over the years, including A Bunch of Amateurs, Around The World In 80 Days, Pygmalion, The Jungle Book and Our Town.
Peter Cratchit is played by Jane Russell
Without any shadow of a doubt, the run up to Christmas is Jane’s favourite time of year and the opportunity to share that festive joy with others is always a real pleasure. Jane has been a member of Maskers for a few years, performing in last year’s Christmas show, A Box of Delights, as a cleaner in Sharks in the Custard and as Mary in The Flint Street Nativity. Jane has also recently performed and directed for RAODS and, even more recently, performed in the musical Chess with EOMS. Jane loves the intimacy of performing in the Studio and she hopes you enjoy the Christmas cheer that this production brings.
Belinda Cratchit is played by Marie McDade
As a member of Maskers since 2010, Marie has performed many times on the outdoor stage – with roles ranging from Shakespearian Midsummer fairy to Kipling’s jungle Panther, assorted characters travelling Around the World in 80 Days, Pygmalion, Dogberry in Much Ado About Nothing and most recently The Three Musketeers. Indoor shows, both at the studio and touring, have included Richard II, Our Town, Butterfly Kiss, Ten Times Table, Granny Weatherwax in Wyrd Sisters, A Bunch of Amateurs and Out of Focus, amongst others. This will be Marie’s 6th Christmas Show – as in Flint Street Nativity once again playing a small child!
Tiny Tim is played by Jez Minns
Jez has been working in the theatre as an amateur, and sometimes professional, actor for the last 35 years and he has been with the Maskers for 25 of them. He’s really happy to be in this show (for all over-acting blame the director!). Recent appearances for the Maskers include Borachio the drunkard in Much Ado About Nothing and, before Covid, the bullyboy Innkeeper in The Flint Street Nativity. When he’s not doing theatre, Jez enjoys painting and sketching and writing poetry.
Ebenezer Scrooge is played by Philip de Grouchy
A member of the Society since the early 1970s, Philip has played a large variety of parts in every kind of show, most recently playing Justice Shallow in The Merry Wives of Windsor. Since our reopening in 2021, he has also appeared as Leonato in Much Ado About Nothing, Lou in Four Weddings and an Elvis, Mark in Yards Apart and in the last Christmas Show, A Box of Delights.
Ghost of Christmas Present is played by Jill Desborough
Jill has been involved with many Maskers' shows, both open air and Studio productions, as an actor, stage manager and director since she joined 7 years ago. Christmas shows are particularly close to her heart. The first Maskers' production that she appeared in was Christmas is A-Comin' in 2014. Since then, she has appeared in Mistletoe Junction (2016) and Let it Snow (2017), has stage-managed An Edwardian Christmas Soiree (2018) and co-directed last year's A Box of Delights. Now she is delighted to be assisting Philip with Christmas with the Cratchits as well as adding a ghostly presence to the fun.
Charles Dickens is played by João Pinto
João made his debut with Maskers in October in The Merry Wives of Windsor, playing a Frenchman. Portuguese João is again demonstrating his versatility with accents in this play as he takes on the character of Charles Dickens himself. After graduating as an engineer, João arrived in the UK about 2 years ago for work and soon got involved in many different activities around Southampton, from playing live music with his guitar to pursuing his passion for writing stories and now acting.
The Carol Singers are played by "The Nightingales"
Southampton Operatic Society, founded in 1924, has produced a wide variety of shows, from grand opera, Gilbert and Sullivan to modern musicals. A group of singers from this society have formed to entertain on behalf of local and national charities. They are called SOS Entertainers and part of this group, Brigitte Lavoie, Tina Adams and Clare Minns, are The Nightingales in this production.
Accompanist is Rosa Longman
Rosa was seven years old when she first learned to play the piano. She has played with so many societies, too numerous to list here. She has appeared in a number of Maskers’ Christmas shows and we are delighted that she is able to play for us again this year.