THIS year marks the 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride And Prejudice, one of the nation’s favourite books, and among the celebrations is a recreation of the infamous Netherfield Ball at our very own Phyllis Court.
The event, organised by Henley Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society, will feature a demonstration assembly waltz and guests are invited to wear traditional dress.
The organisers hope to raise money for two charities — Sue Ryder and HAODS itself — as well as providing publicity for the group’s autumn production, a musical version of the Jane Austen novel.
HAODS chairman, Julie Huntington, said: “We will be recreating the elegance of the evening where Lizzie met Fitzi in the wonderful surroundings of Phyllis Court’s ballroom. There will be a welcoming glass of sparkling wine, half a bottle of wine per person, a three-course dinner, a ticket for the production itself and lots of fun.
“There will be a demonstration of an assembly waltz and the opportunity to join in, and a taster of the show itself. We will try and keep it a bit traditional. Dress is regency — black tie or white tie — with ladies in ball gowns or cocktail dresses. It will be altogether an elegant affair, and we hope to raise at least £1,000 per charity.”
Rehearsals are now underway for the autumn production and the director is delighted they have finally found a young man to play the singing and dancing Darcy, Oliver Dench.
Members of the public are also invited to join HAODS at Lady Catherine’s afternoon tea on Saturday, September 21 at 3pm in the Studio in New Street.
Ms Huntington said: “This time we will be doing a (very) potted version of the show by the Reduced Austen Company, and Lady Catherine de Bourg herself, in the form of Wendy Huntley — a poetess of this parish who has won many talent contests and has a book of funny poems published — will also be expressing herself in her own inimitable way, giving her views on the suggestion that a low-class person should marry her nephew!”
Tickets to the ball on October 5 t 7pm are £65 for non-members. To book email email@example.com
SOME actors spend a lifetime learning the craft, struggling, trying to find that elusive quality which will make an audience sit up and take notice. Not Suri Poulos, the star of 84 Charing Cross Road at the Kenton Theatre in Henley later this month.
Henley-based Suri starts at the point where others give up. She has bypassed all the grind and paying dues because her natural talent has been enough to shower her with awards and praise.
“It was only the second role I’ve ever taken,” she says. “The only other part I’ve played anywhere was ten years ago in a production of Fiddler On The Roof when I played Golda.”
Suri plays the role of Helene Hanff in the transatlantic story of two book lovers who form a deep friendship over 30 years. They never meet but their increasingly personal and intimate letters make for a compelling stage drama.
“I’d read the book and seen the film and really loved those,” says Suri, “So when I was offered the chance to actually play the role of Helene my knees buckled. Helene came from more or less the same background that I do so I had a good starting point.”
Suri, born in Texas and a naturalized British citizen, played Helene last year in a production in Chesham and did enough to win herself and the show top prizes at the National Organisation of Drama Associations (NODA) Awards for the London Region.
The production comes to Henley because so many of the cast and people involved are from the area.
Suri’s husband and the show’s producer, Darrel Poulos, says: We wanted the people around here to get to see it. it was such a great show and we are so proud of it.
“It says a lot about it that we’ve managed to keep Richard Worland in his role as Frak Doel despite his commitments as a professional actor.
“We have the same director in Mike Consden and some of the smaller parts remain the same. But we’ve also recruited local actors to take part as well.”
84 Charing Cross Road runs at the Kenton Theatre, New Street, Henley from Sept 25-28 including a Saturday matinee.
Tickets from The Kenton Box Office or Online.