Friday, 15 February 2019

Amateur actors have cunning plan for hit comedy

Amateur actors have cunning plan for hit comedy

THE second installment of Blackadder saw a complete transformation in the lead character from bumbling Prince Edmund to the lovable rogue with an acid tongue.

It was a move that saved the sit-com after the BBC wanted changes following the modest reception to Rowan Atkinson’s first outing as the title character and its budget was slashed accordingly.

In came writer Ben Elton to work alongside its creator Richard Curtis and the rest, as they say, is history. With four series in total, spanning periods from the medieval to trench warfare, Blackadder is one of the nation’s best-loved comedies.

It was the obvious choice for the Henley Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society who were keen to follow-up the success of ‘Allo ‘Allo, another classic sitcom that the group performed last year.

This latest production, which runs from February 20 to 23 at its New Street studio, comprises a three-course “banquet” and a retelling of four episodes from the Elizabethan series, Bells, Head, Beer and Chains, two on either side of an interval.

All the favourites and supporting cast will be there: Blackadder (Adam Howe), Baldrick (Barry Rosier), Lord Percy (Alex Lakatos), Kate/Bob (Karen du Plessis), Lady Farrow (Sam Riley), Queenie (Jenny Sakal), Nursie (Jenny Haywood) Lord Melchett (Tim Green), Flashheart, Prince Ludwig, Simon Partridge (Piers Burnell), Geoffrey Piddle, Lord Farrow’s brother and “Torturer” (Stephan Socki), Dr Leech, Lord Whiteadder and “Guard two” (Jonathan Barter), Lady Whiteadder (Eileen Pinkarchevski), Father, Mr Ploppy, Frobisher and “Guard one” (Neil Allen), Mrs Ploppy, Young Crone (Gemma Leigh James), “Woman” (Carolina Turrini) and Dr Lucinda Wormley (Lili Tuttle).

Director Julie Huntington says they will be providing a history lesson as well as plenty of laughs.

She said: “We have our own Lucy Worsley, or Lucinda Wormley. She will give an outline of what’s going to happen and where it sits in terms of the history. Lily looks so like Lucy it is untrue. She looks so prim and proper but she will be quite naughty.”

The stage will be split into sections with each one doubling up as different “locations” that appear in the TV episodes. One set is the dungeon in Head and also the drinking room in Beer.

Ms Huntington said: “We will be lighting up the areas that are being used and when there needs to be a little scene change or a piece of furniture added live Blackadder music will be played. We have our orchestra, with our musical director Jane Southern.”

The group has had to get new costumes in for the performance and Queenie’s has been made especially, while a fanfare trumpeter has also been brought in for added authenticity.

Ms Huntington said: “We have had great fun, it has been such a laugh doing this. As soon as we read the script we all just fell about laughing. There are so many funny bits in it.

“It is going really well because the episodes are so well known to all of them. The first rehearsal they did without the script as they knew the lines anyway.

“Piers as Lord Flashheart and Prince Ludwig is just so over the top it is untrue. It is like Flash by name, Flash by nature and Barry as Baldrick is so funny, you laugh just to look at him. We also hope that our audiences dress up as well.”

Two of the three performances have sold out with only a few remaining tickets available for the opening night on February 20. Doors open at 6.30pm for a 7pm start. Tickets are £25, including dinner, from www.ticketsource.co.uk/henley
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