The Barn Theatre, Southwick Community Centre.
September 24, 25, 26 & 27, 2014.
by Anton Chekhov
Hazel Starns – Ranyevskaya [A landowner]
David Peaty – Gaev [Her older brother]
Sophie Lane – Anya [Her younger daughter]
Hanna Liebeskind – Varya [Her adopted daughter]
Judith Berrill – Charlotta [A governess]
Graham Till – Firs [An aged footman]
Sarah Frost – Dunyasha [A housemaid]
Tom Harris – Yasha [A young footman]
Adrian Kenward – Yepikhodov [The estate clerk]
Dan Dryer – Trofimov [A student]
Chris Parke – Lopakhin [A businessman]
David Creedon – Simyon-Pishchik [A local landowner]
Ray Hopper – Passer-By
Paul Checkley – Station-Master
Martin Adley – Ensemble, Servant, Peasant & Guest from the Village
Cherry Fraser – Ensemble, Servant, Peasant & Guest from the Village
Ray Hopper – Ensemble, Servant, Peasant & Guest from the Village
Paul Checkley – Ensemble, Servant, Peasant & Guest from the Village
Stage Manager – Bernadette Lowe
Deputy Stage Manager – Terri Challis
Set & Sound Design – Bob Ryder
Lighting Design – Martin Oakley
Lighting Operation – Martin Oakley
Lighting Operation – John Garland
Sound Operation – Brian Jones
Set Construction – Dave Comber
Set Construction – Nigel Goldfinch
Set Construction – Gary Walker
Set Construction – Carl Gray
Set Construction – Dave Collis
Set Painting – Sue Chaplin
Set Painting – Margaret Davy
Set Painting – Sheila Neesham
Wardrobe – Cherry Briggs
Wardrobe – Maggi Pierce
Wardrobe – Caroline Woodley
Properties Coordinator – Judith Berrill
Dance Captain – Sarah Frost
Choreography Assistant – Nikki Dunsford
Poster Design – Judith Berrill
Publicity – Anna Quick
Publicity – Rosemary Bouchy
Publicity – Lucien Bouchy
Publicity – Martin Oakley
Publicity – Sue Chaplin
Front of House – Betty Dawes
Programme Note #1: Cherry Orchard
BR wrote: ” ‘Life is just a Bowl of Cherries’ – A director’s view
The Cherry Orchard has haunted me for years. The first production I saw was 25 years ago, directed by a shockingly young Sam Mendes and with a cast that wasn’t half bad [it included Judi Dench, for example]. I’ve seen many more productions since, but these days more and more strictly rationed. The best I’ve seen in recent years was the astonishing Before I Sleep at the old Co-op store in London Road in 2010 – and that wasn’t actually the Cherry Orchard anyway, but a whole magical experience inspired by the essence of the play. It was clear proof, if proof were needed, that The Cherry Orchard is one of those rare creations that’s vastly bigger than the play itself.
Which is why, I suppose, in recent years it’s the text that’s haunted me. Every couple of years or so, I treat myself to reading it once again [usually in the excellent translation by Michael Frayn]. Perhaps I should get out more. But I really do find that revisiting the world of these characters, their humanity and their off-the-wall emotions, is like a holiday. And I never fail to be surprised and delighted by the countless daring touches Chekhov uses to paint these bizarre characters and the strange place they inhabit.
So on a personal level I feel very honoured to have been invited to direct The Cherry Orchard in the Barn – and I couldn’t think of a better play to mark a special occasion like the ‘250th’. On top of that, I’ve been given the opportunity to produce a new English acting text of the play for use in this production. It was fun to do, but it has given me an even stronger focus on how to shape the staging and performance, I hope it doesn’t disappoint.
It’ been a fantastic journey working with such talented and motivated cast and production team. Wick Theatre Company has an enviable range of experience which has grown and deepened over time. Of course, nothing can be taken for granted. Every new production must be created – and judged – on its own terms; and ‘the value of your theatrical assets may go down as well as up’. But there’s every reason to hope that Wick will still be firing on all cylinders in 250 shows’ time! ”
Programme Note #2: Cherry Orchard
Martin Adley [Ensemble] is making his long-overdue debut with Wick Theatre Company at the Barn, bringing a dash of sparkle to the dance troupe and general ensemble rôles.
Judith Berrill [Charlotta] joined Wick 25 years ago and this is her 50th acting appearance at the Barn. Her ‘rôles of honour’ include Hedda Gabler, Lady Macbeth, Olivia [Twelfth Night], Titania [MND], Lady Croom [Arcadia], La Marquise de Merteuil [Liaisons] and Dotty Otley [Noises Off].
Paul Checkley [Station-master] has previously appeared for Wick as the Judge [Harvey] and the Colonel [Murdered to Death] while juggling stints in the set building department.
David Creedon [Simyon-Pishchik] is approaching his golden anniversary with Wick and this performance is his 50th acting production, during which time he has never knowingly been upstaged! Just a few of the more recent highlights include Malvolio [Twelfth Night], Bernard [Arcadia], George III [The Madness of George III], Sir [The Dresser] and Uncle Ben in last year’s Death of a Salesman.
Dan Dryer [Trofimov] made a notable Wick debut last year as Bernard [Death of a Salesman] and he has also appeared in this year’s productions of Life & Beth and Funny Money.
Cherry Fraser [Ensemble] has been a key member of Wick’s technical team since 2000, particularly in the wardrobe department. She has finally been coaxed into a stage debut for our 250th production!
Sarah Frost [Dunyasha] joined Wick in 2008 to play an unusual ‘double’ [Murderer and Prince] in Richard III. She has also appeared in Vagina Monologues and last year’s Death of a Salesman.
Tom Harris [Yasha] first joined the Young Wick group nearly 10 years ago and has acted regularly in the ‘senior’ productions since 2008. Recent highlights include Rosencrantz [Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead] and Claudio [Much Ado about Nothing].
Ray Hopper [Passer-by] has been an active Wick member since the mid-1950s, which is almost longer than he can remember! His list of acting roles at the Barn is immense, but another notable outing was as the director of The Happiest Days of Your Life in 2007 – exactly 50 years after he appeared as a young actor in Wick’s original production of that show in 1957.
Sophie Lane [Anya] is a leading ‘graduate’ from Young Wick, which she joined in 2005. Among her recent acting roles are Brooke [Noises Off], Hero [Much Ado] and all the female roles in this year’s smash-hit, The 39 Steps!
Adrian Kenward [Yepikhodov] first acted with Wick as Mozart [Amadeus] in 1991 – a role which he reprised at last year’s Arundel Festival! A wide variety of other roles in between includes Tristan Tzara [Travesties], Flute and Moth [MND] and Richard Rich [A Man for All Seasons].
Hannah Liebeskind [Varya] is making her debut with Wick in this production. Her previous theatre work locally includes acting and running production management at NVT in Brighton, and most recently she appeared in The Crucible in this year’s Brighton Fringe.
Chris Parke [Lopakhin] is making his debut with Wick, but has previously appeared at the Barn with Southwick Opera, most recently in the title role in Verdi’s Macbeth. He acts with Lewes Little Theatre and Players in the Park, as well as working as a concert soloist.
David Peaty [Gaev] started out with Wick in 1970 as the Little Monk in Becket. After a long ‘career break’ he returned in 2004 to act in the premiere production of Nick Young’s Ciphers, followed by the crazy challenge of Wick’s first venture into ‘rep’ theatre [As You Like It alongside Blue Remembered Hills]. Most recently he has acted key roles in Calendar Girls, The Waltz of the Toreadors and Life & Beth.
Hazel Starns [Ranyevskaya] first strutted her stuff for Wick 20 years ago as a Hot-Box Girl [Guys and Dolls] then became a friend of Dorothy as the Good Witch [The Wizard of Oz]. On her inevitable march to the cherry orchard she has performed in, among other things, four of Wick’s Shakespeare productions. Hazel’s most recent roles include Sue [Abigail’s Party], Laura [Don’t Look Now], Annie [Calendar Girls] and Beth [Life & Beth].
Graham Till [Firs] joined Wick in 2012, when he played Leonato [Much Ado] and the Narrator [The Snow Queen]. He played the lead as the General in last year’s The Waltz of the Toreadors and made a powerful directing debut at the Barn with Death of a Salesman.
Publication: Shoreham Herald
Publication Data: September 11 2014 issue – page 16
Correspondent: Elaine Hammond
Text Header: “Theatre Group marks its historic milestone”
WICK Theatre’s next drama marks an historic milestone – the company’s 250th production since it was founded in 1948. To mark the occasion, the company has chosen to stage one of the world’s greatest plays, The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov. The comedy, which was Chekhov’s last play, is set in the most unlikely of circumstances and this new translation will be directed by Bob Ryder. Mr Ryder will be marking his own anniversary – 25 years of working with the theatre company. He has been a stalwart of Wick Theatre, both on and off stage.
Mr Ryder said: ” This is an astonishing play, which always remains fresh and modern. It never fails to surprise and delight you with the quirkiness of its characters, as they flip-flop between laughter and tears. Staging it is a perfect choice for Wick’s amazing landmark of 250 productions. ”
The setting is Russia, more than 100 ago [sic], with the old world of the privileged landowners starting to crumble and the threat of revolution in the air. In a run-down country house, the family can no longer afford to run the estate and hang on to its huge and beautiful cherry orchard. At the same time, they seem madly incompetent about doing anything to help themselves out of their fix.
Publicity officer Anna Quick said: ” A cast of 17 very experienced actors, headed by Hazel Starns as Lyuba, the flighty owner of the estate, bring this off-beat comedy vividly to life. Without exception, the characters are eccentric, unpredictable or off-the-wall. Even when they are driven to wild despair, their words and actions are never far from being comical. Wick Theatre will be drawing on its long history and experience to present a fascinating and atmospheric production of this great classic. ”
The Cherry Orchard is Wick’s entry for this year’s Brighton and Hove Arts Council drama awards. The production will run at the Barn Theatre, at Southwick Community Centre, Southwick Street, Southwick, from September 24 to 27, at 7.45pm. Tickets are priced £11, available from www.wicktheatre.co.uk or the box office on 01273 597094.
Review #1: Cherry Orchard
Publication: Shoreham Herald
Publication Data: October 2 2014 issue – page 14
Reviewer: Joe Riddle
Text Header: “Superb performance for 250th production”
A SOUTHWICK Theatre company passed a milestone last Wednesday, with the opening night of its 250th production. Wick Theatre Company’s performance of Chekhov’s 1904 comedy The Cherry Orchard was carried off brilliantly by cast bursting with energy and charm. From the moment the curtain went up, the audience was glued to the action.
Leading lady Hazel Starns gave a sparkling performance as landowner Ranyevskaya, portraying the character’s sorrow and grief beautifully. But laughs were abundant especially when David Peaty took to the stage as Ranyevskaya’s loveable, childlike older brother; Gaev. He delivered his lines wonderfully, with an accomplished sense of comic timing and brought the house down as he played imaginary billiards shots throughout his dialogue.
Graham Till was hugely popular with the audience as he shuffled and creaked around the set in the rôle of aging footman Firs. Simply his presence on stage was enough to rouse laughter in the stalls, and he had the audience on tenterhooks as the curtain fell.
There was no shortage of comedy, notably from Adrian Kenward and David Creedon, who had the house in stitches with their antics as Yepikhodov, the awfully unlucky estate clerk, and Simyon-Pishchik, the penniless landowner, whose hip flask was seldom out of sight. Dan Dryer was compelling as eternal student Trofimov, delivering his impassioned speeches with intensity and vigour.
Special mention must be reserved for Chris Parke, who was outstanding as rags-to-riches businessman Lopakhin, commanding the stage with great presence and conviction. Parke’s stand-out moment was his delivery of Lopakhin’s big monologue after buying the orchard, in which he captured his character’s change of fortunes with great passion and a real sense of joy mixed with disbelief.
The on-stage chemistry between Hazel Starns, Hanna Liebeskind [Varya] and Sophie Lane [Anya] was heartwarming and genuine. Despite her character’s lack of redeeming features, the audience quickly warmed to likeable Sarah Frost as vain housemaid Dunyasha, in her futile pursuit of footman Yasha, played with great arrogance and pretence by Tom Harris. Judith Berrill was charming and quirky as eccentric governess Charlotta.
The score and sound effects were spot on, marred only slightly by a loud buzzing sound that persisted throughout much of the play.
Wick Theatre Company was founded in 1948 and has performed at The Barn since it opened 60 years ago. Its first production was in 1951 when it performed four one-act plays.
New members are always welcome and anyone interested in joining should visit www.wicktheatre.co.uk.
Review #2: Cherry Orchard
Publication: Brighton Argus
Publication Data: September 25 2014
Reviewer: Barrie Jerram
Chekhov’s tragicomedy, considered to be his masterpiece, is set in pre-revolutionary Russia telling of the feckless Madame Ranevsky and her family. Refusing to face up to reality, their beloved estate and cherry orchard is sold to pay off their debts. Once sold, all will be razed to the ground and villas built. In the final scene, as the family prepare to move out, the sound of the trees being chopped down is heard – symbolism heralding the coming revolution and the fate of the landowning classes.
Despite the pervading air of melancholy, Bob Ryder’s direction manages to inject a lot of humour. His is a fine production, full of good performances. Ranevsky and her selfish, snobbish brother are self-destructive characters for whom there can be little sympathy. Hazel Starns and David Peaty fully capture their flaws and weaknesses. Chris Parke brings a more sophisticated air to the usually coarse Lopakhin, a peasant made rich through shrewd business deals, whilst Dan Dryer is full of passion as a revolutionary student.
The true essence of Chekhov is rooted in Adrian Kenward’s remarkable portrayal of the unfortunate Yepikhodov whilst David Creedon delivers fine comedy through his characterisation of an impoverished neighbour.
Review #3: Cherry Orchard
Publication: N.O.D.A – National Operatic and Dramatic Association
Reviewer: Phillip Hall – Regional representative for South East Region District 1 – Mid Sussex
This is story packed with tragedy, sadness and human folly yet written as a comedy. Bob Ryder succeeded in bringing all aspects clearly to the audiences’ attention in a very cleverly staged production.
Hazel Starns was perfect as the aristocratic Russian landowner. She showed her fall from grace with great dignity combined with little shame and great resolution. Her older brother, Gaev, an interesting eccentric with an obsession with the delights of the billiard room, was delightfully played by David Peaty. His facial expressions in response to the dialogue of others were an object lesson to many an actor. It was said of David Garrick, ” …every look speaks”.
Chris Parke created a Lopakhin not, in my opinion, to be liked. His humble background clearly rankled and his acquisition of the estate from a ‘superior’ gave him a certain smugness. The Lopakhin/Varya relationship was never really resolved. Varya, elegantly played by Hannah Liebeskind, deserved better. Dan Dryer, as Trofimov, made an excellent eternal student with all the wisdom and assurance of one with no experience of the real world and brimming with revolutionary zeal. It could never have been possible that the lovely, sweet Anya could have any shared interest.
The somewhat eccentric governess, Charlotta, played by Judith Berrill is not a large rôle but Judith made it count in her scene as the entertainer which she carried off with great panache. Firs, the ancient footman played by Graham Till, was a joy. Although clearly intended as a caricature of an old family retainer, he never quite descended into pantomime with even his death scene showing a certain restraint.
The remainder of the cast were all admirable in their rôles. A local landowner, a pompous young footman, and accident prone estate clerk, a loyal housemaid and half a dozen others all came up to the standards set by the major players.
This can only be summarised as a most entertaining evening well up to the high standards audiences have come to expect over 250 presentations since 1951. Congratulations on reaching such a milestone in such style.