Maskers Studio Theatre
7 - 14 December 2018

At 7:30pm. Friday to Friday. No performance on Sunday 9th December


Suitable for all


The Reviews


2nd December 2018

Christmas has come early to the Maskers Studio – it’s an unusual situation to be asked to review a first dress rehearsal almost a week before opening night and (from previous experience of this venue) I expected the Studio to feel very cold and wintry on a stormy Sunday evening. However, entering the Studio performance area, I was instantly impressed by the set and transported to an elegant drawing room of an Edwardian country estate, complete with illusion of cosy, roaring fire and wooden panels, enhanced by beautifully decorated Christmas tree and atmospheric lighting – an excellent first impression!

An Edwardian Christmas Soirée is essentially a collection of songs, monologues and short performance dialogues in the traditional style of Edwardian Christmas home entertainment, linked by an original script (written by director Sheana Carrington) delivered by the characters from Sir Francis Jacob-Holmes’ household, staff and guests. With such a wide variety on offer, each member of the audience will take away their own favourite performances and items from the evening; it is with that in mind that my own ‘favourite’ moments should be considered.

Standout performers for me are Eric Petterson (Sir Francis), Philip de Grouchy (his butler, Ashton) and SJ Wareham (his maid, Maisie). Each are seamless in their transition between their named characters’ dialogue and interaction, and the different characters that they inhabit for their individual monologues (which they each perform so well, rather than merely reciting, each with an impressive array of accents and personas).

Wareham is completely mesmerising as Maisie. With almost the entire company sat on stage for virtually the duration of each act, it would be easy for attention to wander and focus to drop. Wareham, however, is impeccable with the level of focus, energy, reaction and active listening that she commits to for the entire show, and her characterisations are first class. Her rendition of ‘The Little Matchgirl’ (enhanced by the most delightful snow effect) is a perfect example of the difference between merely reading from a script and giving a performance of a reading – and nobody does this better here than Wareham.

De Grouchy has very impressive comic timing and delivers a masterclass in Spoonerisms. Petterson slips easily into an MC role when introducing the visiting quintet of carol singers, The Nightingales (SOS Entertainers). Of these Nightingales, Miss Melanie (Mel Mastrototaro) gives a star performance, whether singing operatically, in an ensemble or as a feline, with her vocal performance, facial expressions, physicality and whole presentation level.

There is excellent support from Marie McDade (Sir Francis’ wife, Lady Helena), Christine Baker (his housekeeper, Mrs Glossop) and an impressive debut performance from Peter Court (family friend, Edmund Braithwaite). David Jupp’s cameo performance as Uncle Herbert is deliciously wicked, politically incorrect if viewed from a modern perspective, but ideal in the portrayal of the amorous elderly Edwardian Uncle, and his singing voice is as rich as ever. There’s also a delightful vignette from John Hamon, who not only designed the set so beautifully, but entertains as the incorrigible magician, Monsieur Reynard.

There is a risk with a show of this nature for the narrative to seem disjointed and forced links made between individual items. It is to Carrington’s credit that this is not the case; admittedly during the first dress rehearsal, there were a few sticky moments and timing issues to perfect, but I am confident that with the couple more rehearsals between the dress that I saw and the opening night that these will be resolved, and indeed for the majority of the dress rehearsal the pace was very good, especially in the individual items.

Opening Friday 7 December, this sold out show runs until 14 December (with no performance on Sunday 9 December) – if you have a ticket for this, be prepared for an enjoyable and charming evening of traditional festive variety entertainment, complete with mulled wine and mince pie during the interval.

- Anne Waggott

Deck the halls, light the candles & enjoy a pre-Christmas treat with the Maskers

Fed up with a commercial Christmas?

You are cordially invited to an Edwardian Christmas Soirée.

Please be our guests of Sir Francis and Lady Jacob-Holmes in the drawing room of their Country House!
You will be entertained with carol singers, party pieces, and singing of an excellent quality! A suprise act also awaits your pleasure...

Be transported back to an elegant era where Christmas entertainment is stylish and traditional.
A glass of mulled wine (or orange juice) and a mince pie will be served for your delectation.

Director & Cast

The Director

Sheana Carrington
Sheana's involvement with Maskers goes back to 1968...being a founder member. She played Hero in our first production of Much Ado About Nothing, directed The Wind in the Willows at Mottisfont Abbey and Little Women at The Nuffield, costumed many shows and appeared in Antigone in 2017. The audiences love our Christmas show and this is Sheana's fourth as director - she enjoys the challenge of presenting in different ways!

The Cast

Sir Francis Jacob-Holmes played by Eric Petterson
Eric joined Maskers in 2012. He enjoyed picking up young ladies in Chekhov's The Yalta Game, was Joe Gargery, Wemmick and Drummel, sometimes in the correct costume in Great Expectations, and a particularly bolshie guard in Antigone. He was considered weird enough for Wyrd Sisters. This will be his sixth Christmas show and he’s enjoyed them all.

Lady Helena Jacob-Holmes played by Marie McDade
Marie has been a Masker since 2011 and this will be her third Christmas Show. As her recent roles have been mostly unglamorous – Granny Weatherwax in Wyrd Sisters, a grizzled sea captain and a hopeless flower-seller in Around the World in 80 Days – she is looking forward to embodying Edwardian festive elegance this December.

Cousin Rosalind played by Rachel Eynon
This is Rachel's first Christmas show for Maskers. You may have spotted her disguised as several characters in Wyrd Sisters. Just one role this time! Rachel is very much looking forward to being part of this seasonal presentation...after all, 'it's the most wonderful time of the year'.

Rosalind's daughter Amy played by Molly McDade
Despite being a Masker since 2014, this will be Molly's first Christmas show. Her previous roles have been as a first mate, an elephant rider and a rabid jackal, and she is now looking forward to joining in the festive fun!

Ashton, the butler played by Philip de Grouchy
Having dusted himself off again for yet another Maskers' Christmas Show, Philip looks forward to throwing himself, not too vigorously, into numerous colourful characterisations. More realistically, he's becoming a specialist in old, doddering characters with memory problems - no acting required. With luck, he may turn up at the right venue each night!

Maisie, the maid played by SJ Wareham
Sarah-Jayne has loved acting and directing with Maskers. Her fave roles so far include Mrs Robinson in The Graduate, numerous characters and furniture moving in Great Expectations, and most recently as the lead in Antigone and Magrat in Wyrd Sisters. She’s looking forward to serving up a festive delight this Christmas!

Mrs Glossop, housekeeper played by Christine Baker
Chris has been a Masker for many years, taking part in a variety of productions, both in the studio and the Nuffield Theatre. Most recently Chris played Helen Dixon in Alan Ayckbourn's Ten Times Table. Chris is happy to be involved once again with our Christmas presentation.

Edmund Stafford-Dryden, friend of family played by Peter Court
This is Peter's debut with Maskers - he's new to acting. His only previous experience was being cast as third weasel in his school's version of The Wind In The Willows. In his spare time, he enjoys making unpleasant noises on the bass guitar.

Aunt Agatha, accompanist played by 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. We are so pleased that she is able to play for us this year, we know we are in safe hands!

Great Uncle Herbert played by David Jupp
David joined Maskers in 1971 and was the treasurer during the time at the Basset Theatre. He became premises manager when Maskers moved to their current Studio location. He has acted both at Mottisfont and the Nuffield and performed in many of the Christmas anthologies. He was trained at the London College of Music and has been in musical themed shows through out his life.

SOS Entertainers
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 local and national charities. They are called SOS entertainers, and part of this group is
performing in our show under the name of The Nightingales! Very apt!

Guest Artiste - John Hamon
In more than 40 years, this is only John's second appearance in a Maskers' Christmas he is looking forward to the Christmas spirit!

Creative Team

Production Manager
Christine Baker
Stage Manager
Jill Desborough
Set Design
Clive Weeks & Sheana Carrington
Set Construction
Clive Weeks, Peter Hill, Sheana Carrington, & Maskers
Set Painting
John Hamon
Set Dressing
Angela Stansbridge
Lighting Design
Clive Weeks
Lighting Operator
Robert Osborne & Morgan Bannister
Sound Design
Jamie McCarthy
Sound Operator
David Cowley
Costume Design And Wardrobe
Susan Wilson, Sheana Carrington, Serena Brown
Studio Decoration
Gill Buchanan & team

Ticket Information

Tickets £11

No concessions

Poster, Flyer & Programme

For the Maskers

Technical Manager:- Jamie McCarthy;   Lighting Consultant:- Clive Weeks;   Sound Consultant:- Jamie McCarthy;   Marketing Director:- Paul Green;   Marketing Team:- Angela Stansbridge, Kate McCraken, Clive Weeks, Robert Osborne, Meri Mackney, Paul Baker;   Front of House Manager:- Chris Baker;   Box Office Manager:- Chris Baker;   Photography:- Clive Weeks, Stuart Gray, & Ian Wilson;   Bar Manager:- Meri Mackney
Image Gallery
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Shirley's own LOCAL theatre!

Maskers Theatre Company
Off Emsworth Road
SO15 3LX

Registered Charity 900067

Established 1968

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