The Barn Theatre, Southwick Community Centre
November 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5 1966
by Colette Loos & Anita Loos
Susanna Porter – Gigi
Angela Bolton – Mme. Alvarez
Veronica Kingdon – Andrée
Barrie Bowen – Gaston Lachaille [Tonton]
Venetia Baker – Mme. Alicia de St. Ephlam
Robert del Quiaro – Victor
Fay Sturt – Sidonie
Assistant Director – David Creedon
Properties – Margaret Perrett
Properties – Frances Thorne
Lighting – Frank Hurrell
Sound Effects – Frank Hurrell
Sound Effects – Terry Mase
Decor – Vincent Joyce
Decor – Bess Blagden
Decor – Elizabeth Penney
Set Design & Execution – Vincent Joyce
Set Design & Execution – Ian Leavey
Stage Manager – Ray Hopper
ASM – Geoffrey Nash
Prompter – Coral Guildford
Wardrobe Mistress – Morfydd Bowen
Hair-Dresser – Fay Sturt
Costume Hire – Le Roy of Brighton
Front of House Manager – George Penney
Publicity #1: Gigi
Publication Data: Unknown
Text Header: “Wick Players to present ‘Gigi’ ”
WHEN the Wick Theatre Company presents Gigi by Colette and Anita Loos, at the Barn Theatre at Southwick from November 1 to 5, it will be the first time they have ventured to run a show for five nights. This departure is mainly due to the fact that 20 per cent of the profits will go to the ‘Help the Aged’ charity – an organisation which is also helping to bring in extra people to swell the audiences.
Venetia Baker, of the Southwick Players, one of the best known amateur actresses in the Brighton area, will be a guest player on this occasion. She will portray Madame Alicia, a stylish, poised and calculating women who tries to arrange a profitable liaison for Gigi in the demi-monde of Paris in 1900.
Gigi will be played by 17-year-old Susanna Porter, who took the title rôle in Electra by Sophocles – the play with which Wick’s under-21 section won the Sussex Youth Drama Festival in Eastbourne in April. Her mother Jean Porter – one of the company’s most experienced actresses – is directing the production of this delightful comedy of manners and love story on which the famous musical was based.
Susanna will be opposite Barrie Bowen, who will play the handsome young millionaire Gaston Lachaille who falls in love with Gigi. Her feckless mother, Andrée, will be played by Veronica Kingdon, a new member, who was on stage at the Theatre Royal earlier this month in the chorus of Brigadoon.
Viewers of B.B.C’s Southern programme News from the South will be able to see a short feature on the production when it is screened on October 31, the evening before the show opens.
Gigi is the company’s most expensive production to date. Those who want tickets to support both players and charity can book at 123, Stoney-lane, Shoreham. [Tel: Southwick 3942] Curtain up at 7.45p.m.
Publicity #1: Gigi
Publication Data: Unknown
Text Header: “BLONDE ‘GIGI'”
The Wick Theatre Company at Southwick are putting on their most expensive production yet, and will give 20 per cent. of the proceeds to charity.
The play Gigi will run for five days at the Barn Theatre, Southwick Community Centre, from November 1. This will be the first time the company have run a show for as many as five nights, but they hope it will pay off, as the production is being presented in connection with Help the Aged charity current appeal in the Brighton area.
In casting the title rôle the company departed form theatrical tradition by appointing a blonde Gigi – Susanna Porter [right] . Susanna, of Norman Crescent, Shoreham, is aged 17 and a sixth-former at the Sion Convent School, Worthing. Her ambition is to teach drama, she also played the name part in Electra by Sophocles, the production which won the Wick Company the Dorothy Stringer Trophy in the under-21 section of the Sussex Youth Drama Festival at Eastbourne in April.
Susanna’s mother, Mrs. Jean Porter, is a former professional actress and a drama teacher, and will be directing Gigi.
Publicity #1: Gigi
Publication Data: Unknown
Text Header: “Wick Players to present ‘Gigi'”
THE Wick Theatre Company’s production of Gigi, which will be presented at the Barn Theatre, Southwick Community Centre, from Tuesday to Saturday of next week, is an entry in the new West Sussex Drama Festival. This competition was started this year after East Sussex decided to run its own drama festival, abandoning the Sussex Full-Length Drama Festival which groups in the west used to enter.
The West Sussex festival has attracted 15 productions. Seven including Gigi, have been put in Group A, which will be adjudicated by Miss Rona Laurie, the professor of speech and drama at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London and a well-known adjudicator in Sussex. The other eight, in Group B, will be examined by Miss Enid Beeken, teacher of English drama and speech at the Bognor College of Education.
One production will be chosen from each group to take part in the final at the Esplanade Theatre, Bognor, on December 10.
The curtain will rise at 7.45 p.m. each night for Gigi, with a proportion of the profits going to Help the Aged charity.
Tickets can be obtained at 123 Stoney-lane, Shoreham [telephone Southwick 3942]
Review #1: Gigi
Publication: Shoreham Herald
Publication Data: November 4 1966 issue – page 3
Text Header: “This ‘Gigi’ was enchanting”
The Wick Theatre Company, it seems, can do no wrong. This week they are delighting audiences at the Barn Hall, Southwick, with Gigi, by Collette and Anita Loos, their entry in the new West Sussex Drama Festival. There is an adjudication by Rona Laurie at the fourth performance tonight [Friday], and the final staging takes place tomorrow evening. Help the Aged is the charity to benefit from this production.
The play is directed by Jean Porter, assisted by David Creedon, and between them they have produced a rare example of a cast of amateurs who succeed in passing themselves off as professionals, seemingly without much effort. There is polished competence in the acting and in the whole approach to this witty, wholly diverting comedy of the Parisian high life at the century’s turn. Enhancing the overall picture are the period settings and costumes which bring the stamp of reality.
The title rôle falls to the youngest member of the cast, 17-year-old Susanna Porter, who, thanks to her considerable acting talent and the careful grooming for local ‘stardom’ by her mother, as director, contributes a vivid performance. Her study of the tomboy girl on the brink of womanhood, who proves more than a match to her scheming great-aunt in affairs of the heart, is wholly captivating. Veronica Baker, guest actress from the Southwick Players, gives a finely-polished portrayal of Mme Alicia, the great-aunt, with every gesture and expression and tone of voice, just what the rôle demands. Angela Bolton, too, is admirable as Mme Alvarez, Gigi’s grandmother, and there is strong comedy – at times overpowering – in newcomer Veronica Kingdon’s study of the girl’s vacuous mother, Andrée, a singer of anything but note.
There is real competence in Barrie Bowen’s performance as Gaston Lachaille, the wealthy young man who fails to secure Gigi as his mistress but wins her as his wife, and Robert del Quiaro [Victor, the butler] and Fay Sturt [Sidonie, the maid] invest what might have been minor rôles with gems of contrasting humour.
The set was designed and executed by Vincent Joyce and Ian Leavey, the stage managers are Raymond Hopper and Geoffrey Nash, and decor is by Vincent Joyce, Bess Blagden and Elizabeth Penney. Others assisting backstage are Margaret Perrett, Frances Thorne, Terry Mase, Morfydd Bowen and Coral Guildford.
Review #2: Gigi
Publication: Brighton & Hove Gazette
Publication Data: November 4 issue 1966 – AMATEUR DRAMA
Text Header: “Refreshing”
WHAT a delightful and refreshing thing it is, in these days of stark realism and down-to-earth earthiness, to see a charming play like Gigi currently staged by The Wick Theatre Company at the Barn Theatre, Southwick.
Susanna Porter in the name part is a sheer joy. Her ebullience and tomboyish beginning to give way, as it should, almost imperceptibly to the dawnings of womanhood. It is a really lovely performance. Running a close second is the performance of Venetia Baker of the Southwick Players as the worldly-wise aunt, Alicia de St. Ephlam, so adept in the art of getting the most expensive jewels, in the best possible taste from the current admirer. This, too, is acting of quality and technical skill.
Madame Alvarez, Gigi’s grand-mother is given a distinct and likeable character by Angela Bolton, but Veronica Kingdon as Andrée Gigi’s mother, is at times perilously near to farce. Andrée is, indeed, a larger-than-life character and my opinion that she is slightly overdrawn may not be shared.
Gaston Lachaille, wealthy, handsome, charming, admired and the target of every designing woman in Paris, is admirably characterised by Barrie Bowen. Here again, as with Susanna Porter, the slow dawning of his love is cleverly brought out. Sidonie, the maid to Madame Alvarez, noisy, galumphing and hoydenish, is made great fun by Fay Sturt, and Robert del Quiaro gives to Alicia’s butler, Victor, an urbanity and a near-arrogance which is most becoming. But I must quarrel with a modern-style beard and modern-style eyeglasses on a butler in the Paris of 1900.
Two other features of this production merit comment: The settings designed by Vincent Joyce and Ian Leavey, and the excellence of the costumes under wardrobe mistress Morfydd Bowen.
To place last that which should be first, the sensitive direction of the play by Jean Porter [assisted by David Creedon] removed any vestige of mawkishness that could have been and gave a story of great charm and sweetness.
There are performances tonight and tomorrow, which I believe are well booked, but it is worth making the effort to try to see this excellent Gigi.
Review #3: Gigi
Publication Data: November 4 1966 issue
Reviewer: I B-W
Text Header: “‘Gigi’ worth putting on five times”
THE quality of the Wick Theatre Company’s production of Gigi has completely justified their decision to give five performances of the play. Gigi by Colette and Anita Loos, ends its run at the Barn Theatre, Southwick, tomorrow night. Proceeds all week have gone to “Help the Aged” appeal.
Jean Porter, assisted by David Creedon, directs the company on a stage which is supremely well set, with little to choose for faithful observance of detail in the Paris of 1900 between the living room of Mme. Inez Alvarez and the boudoir of her sister, Mme. Alicia de t. Ephlam. The former reeks of plain living and cooking, the latter of haute monde exclusiveness, scintillating with diamonds, heady perfume, lush silks and lace, and all the intrigue of the worldly Mme. Alicia to gain a wealthy suitor for her dream-filled niece Gigi. The only thing to do with this production is to put all memories of the film out of one’s mind. Look at this Gigi of 1966, played with unaffected Alice-in-Wonderland abandon by the fey-like Susanna Porter. What young woman had dreamed of such a marital chance as that offered to the 17-year-old Parisienne?
How many have treated the chance, with the same scant care, secure, as is Gigi, in the power of her naive charms?
Veronica Kingdon, almost permanently in tight-laced corsets, lace-edged bloomers and negligee, emerges emphatically as the ineffectual Mother, Andrée. She is viewed with loving irritation by her mother, Mme. Alvarez, and moves through the action frantically self-immersed to the point of being quite unaware that Gigi has, to use her Aunt Alicia’s words, begun to “learn what it means to be a women.”
Barrie Bowen is an absolute eyeful – and earful – as the too-too-wealthy and elegant ‘sugar king’ Gaston Lachaille, a man of many women, but beloved by Gigi for his gifts of liquorice and games of piquet, and known affectionately by her as Tonton.
What to say about Venetia Baker [of the Southwick Players] as Mme. Alicia? Here glitters yet another memorable appearance in the delightful delicacy of lace drapes over a sunny boudoir window, and slender French furniture.
In wholesome and necessary contrast we have the stolid, loving figure of Gigi’s grandmother, Mme. Alvarez, portrayed with black-gowned sobriety by Angela Bolton. Here is the ample bosom on which youth can shed its hasty tears.