The Barn Theatre, Southwick Community Centre
February 9, 10 & 11 1961
As Long As They’re Happy
by Vernon Sylvaine
Sheelagh O’Farrell – Gwendoline
Beverley Sturmey – Linda
Clodagh O’Farrell – Patricia
Betty Elliott – Stella Bentley
Brian Moulton – John Bentley
Adrian Hedges – Bobby Denver
John Robinson – Hermann Schneider
Malcolm Guy – Michael Kenley
Raymond Hopper – Peter Pember
Mary Gedge – Pearl
Priscilla Freeman – Corinne
Ross Workman – Barnaby
Henrietta of Petworth – Mr. Hennington
Stage Manager – Ian Elliott
ASM – Mary Chinchen
Sound Effects – Ralph Dawes
Lighting – Frank Hurrell
Properties – Valerie Collard
Properties – Maureen Hammonds
Wardrobe – Bess Blagden
Set Design – Barrie Bowen
Front of House Manager – George Penney
FM wrote in the 6d priced Programme:
“I am very happy to have in this production three newcomers to the amateur stage: Beverley Sturmer, Priscilla Freeman and John Robinson. I’m sure they will have a successful debut in their important parts. Sheelagh O’Farrell who has had a great success in recent Festival plays is playing her first major rôle in a Three Act Play.
I hope you will enjoy this very lively comedy and be gratified to know that the Young Wick is maintaining its standards with an influx of talented people.”
Publicity #1: As Long As They’re Happy
Publication: Brighton & Hove Gazette
Publication Data: THALIA
Publication Header: “PIANO WANTED”
THE Young Wick Players want to borrow a baby grand on February 9, 10 and 11. They are presenting the rather delightful farce, As Long as They’re Happy, and need a baby grand piano for the set.
As the Young Wicks are fortunate in having a permanent home at the Barn Theatre there is no danger that the piano will be ‘kicked around’ but, in any case, knowing George Porter, it will be treated with loving care.
If anyone can help, please contact him at 1 Kingston – way, Southwick. The telephone number is 2600.
Review #1: As Long As They’re Happy
Publication Data: February 11 1961 issue
Text Header: “A CROONER IN THEIR MIDST”
WHAT happens when a bare-legged, pipe-smoking existentialist meets a pompous psychiatrist in the lounge of an elegant house near Regent’s Park?
This situation is exploited in Vernon Sylvaine’s farce As Long As They’re Happy, the current splendid production of the Young Wick Players at the Barn Theatre, Southwick. The production includes three newcomers to the stage, Beverley Sturmey as the goggle-eyed, fainting maid, Priscilla Freeman, as one of the mixed-up elder daughters, and John Robinson, fussily overbearing as the psychiatrist, can rest assured that their début in these important parts leaves nothing to be desired.
Adrian Hedges does well as the crooner; Brian Moulton as the harassed husband, and Betty Elliott as his discontented wife, both give polished performances; Clodagh O’Farrell give the right touch of abandon to the second married daughter; and Mary Gedge is curvaceously alluring as Pearl. Only one player doesn’t quite ring true – the too-diffident journalist from The Daily Record.
In playing Gwendoline, Sheelagh O’Farrell takes her first major rôle in a three-act play following her success in recent festival productions.
Direction is in the capable hands of Ian Elliott. [sic] The play ends to-night.
Review #2: As Long As They’re Happy
Publication: Shoreham Herald
Publication Data: February 17 1961 issue – page 8
Text Header: “THIS VEHICLE IS LOADED WITH LAUGHS”
I DID not roll in the aisles with laughter, nor did I have to hold my aching sides, but I did give vent to many hearty chuckles and innumerable titters at the risqué comedy-farce, As Long As They’re Happy, staged at the Barn Theatre, Southwick, by the Young Wick Players last Thursday, Friday and Saturday. A woman making her first visit to a Young Wick Players’ production and who has been a keen theatregoer all her life, said to me as the curtain fell, “I have seen a lot worse on television, and many northern repertory companies could not have done it better.”
The inconsequential story of a teenage daughter’s passionate puppy love for a crying crooner, another daughter’s runaway affair with a crack-pot playwright-cum-modernist and a flighty feather-brained wife all badgering a respectable, conservative stock-broker-type man was written as a vehicle on which a lot of laughs could be loaded. It is to the everlasting credit of The Young Wick cast and their stage director, Mrs. Frances Moulton, that hardly a line was lost, and most of them were cued instantly and rammed home with force.
The laurel wreath for best actor or actress must go to Betty Elliott, and although this comparison might be considered invidious because of the excellence of the other players, this actress shone throughout and gave a nearly faultless performance. She must be one of the best amateur actress in the district. Brian Moulton, as John Bentley, the stockbroker father who was beset by a flood of Bohemianism he could not comprehend, had a heavy part in a frothy play. But he struck just the right note between comedy and drama and proved a perfect foil for his aggressive, love-lorn family. His was perhaps an unenviable rôle, but he was good and consistent.
The play nearly, but not quite, reached the heights of pure comedy. Nevertheless, it came so close to target that the tiny difference was hardly discernable. Already blessed with a plethora of talent, which must be embarrassing to a producer when choosing a cast, The Young Wick Players introduced three new-comers. First on stage was Beverley Sturmey as Linda the maid. Nervous at the start, she spoke her lines with a Welsh accent and maintained it throughout. Bolstered by Brian Moulton and Betty Elliott, she gained stature as the piece proceeded, until after the first scene she was acting with great aplomb. John Robinson, as the psychiatrist, Herman Schneider, arrived on the stage with the confidence of a veteran and maintained it throughout. He played his part with skill. Sheelagh O’Farrell was the delinquent teenage daughter, played a long and exacting part with sensitivity, and her voice carried well.
Priscilla Freeman as Corinne made such a fleeting appearance at the conclusion of the performance that it is quite impossible to say anything about her except that she looked stunning in the garb of a cow-girl, complete with stetson.
Clodagh O’Farrell was the weak link in the chain of comedy. She played her part too intensely and was over-dramatic in situations which could have been funny. Conversely her husband, Peter Pember, played by Raymond Hopper, was the funniest character part I have seen for a long time. The existentialist sculptor-painter-playwright, back from the Parisian Left Bank, was a model of acting. Mary Gedge, as Pearl, a woman chosen in desperation by the harassed father, was adequate although her advances were restrained to such an extent that it was easy to see how Mr. Bently was able to withstand her amorous intentions.
The ‘crying crooner’, Bobby Denvers, played by Adrian Hedges, was a sharply focused characterisation of one of the nastiest facet of the modern age. His crooning was also well done, although at times one was puzzled by the loss of key and unable to judge whether it was the fault of the pianist or the crooner.
It was a fine effort, well produced and well rehearsed. When one remembers that comedy is one of the most difficult things to stage well with an amateur cast, the credit due to this company is enhanced three-fold.
Review #3: As Long As They’re Happy
Publication: Brighton & Hove Gazette
Publication Data: Unknown
Text Header: ” Best of the amateurs ”
I HAVE seen several productions of Vernon Sylvaine’s farce As Long As They’re Happy, including the Jack Buchanan original, and the presentation by the Young Wick Players last week-end was certainly the best of the amateurs. The story is a crazy involvement of ultra-respectable stockbroker, ex-actress wife, ‘problem’ daughters, phoney psychiatrist and ‘crying crooner’.
The strength of the production lay in Adrian Hedges’ first-rate performance as Bobby Denver, the crying crooner, mobbed by fans and idolised by the teen-age daughter of the house. His singing was so shrewd a burlesque that I was visited by the salutary thought that with the right publicity build-up Adrian Hedges might become, in fact, a successful teen-age idol!
Betty Elliott gave a delightful performance as Stella, the ex-actress wife of John Bentley, Sheelagh O’Farrell scored as Gwendoline, the crooner struck daughter. Clodagh O’Farrell was Patricia, the daughter married to existentialist Peter Pember whole rôle was played with considerable drollery by Raymond Hopper.
Linda, the maid who faints repeatedly at the sight of Bobby Denver, was charmingly portrayed by Beverley Sturmey and third daughter Corinne and her cowboy husband, Barnaby, by Priscilla Freeman by Ross Workman. Malcolm Guy could have made much more of the newspaper reporter.
Producer Frances Moulton cannot be exonerated from blame for these palpable defects in a generally commendable and enjoyable presentation of a difficult farce.
[Web-ed: The review doesn’t really detail ‘palpable defects’ does it? Was some text sub-edited out? We’ll never know. Strange.]
Publicity #2: As Long As They’re Happy
Publication: Shoreham Herald
Publication Data: February 17 1961 issue – page 10 – Fan Fare
Text Header: “Four newcomers”
YOUNG Wick Players’ production at Barn Theatre, Southwick Community Centre last week, was a successful one and the cast reached a high standard in theatrical technique. Of the cast of 13, four were newcomers, and only one had made previous stage appearances. This policy of giving newcomers a chance paid off handsomely because the four played their parts in a masterly and confident manner.
Beverley Sturmey, who played the maid, Linda, is 17 and lives at 20 Clarendon-road, Shoreham. She is dark-haired with an attractive, quiet expression, and her part of Linda was acted with something approaching pure farce. Her several fainting fits were very realistic. She is employed as an accounts clerk with Shoreham Coal and Shipping Company, Southwick, and her hobby is dressmaking.
Priscilla Freeman, aged 15, of Oldfield-crescent, Southwick, did not have a big part in the production. Indeed, she appeared only for a brief moment at the very end, but she made no small impact. Still a pupil at King’s Manor School for Girls, Priscilla is extremely keen on drama and has ambitions of being trained for the professional stage. She realises that it is a hard life and, because she is still very young, is undecided whether to plump for the theatre or interior decorating.
John Robinson, who played the part of the psychiatrist, Dr Schneider, is 27 and lives at 8 Colebrook-road, Southwick. He is employed as a cashier at Taylor’s (London) Ltd., Burgess Hill, an engineering firm. He was introduced to the Players by his friend, Adrian Hedges, who works at the same firm and who played the part of the ‘crying crooner’.
The fourth newcomer was Sheelagh O’Farrell, aged 18, of 52 Hangleton Road, Hove, who played the part of Gwendoline. Sister of Clodagh O’Farrell, an established member of the Players, she is a student in dress design and dressmaking at Brighton College of Art.