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The nearest thing to real life

Hello, I am Lorraine Reynolds and this is my first time performing for Saddleworth Players at the Millgate Arts Centre.

I play Miss Poppenghul, the long-suffering secretary to David O. Selsnick.

Miss Poppenghul tries her best to cater to his every whim, whilst feeling perplexed and somewhat irritated by the antics of the men who surround her ... Not much different to real life!!

COME & SEE US ... BOOK NOW

Lorraine Reynolds, September 22, 2017,


A gangster with a typewriter

Hi! My name is Phil Clegg and I play the part of Ben Hecht in the Saddleworth Players’ production of Moonlight and Magnolias.

This will be my fourth appearance at this delightful theatre which is always a favourite of mine. Hecht was considered, at the time, to be Hollywood’s greatest screenwriter. With his fast-paced dialogue and style of writing he was credited for completing several screenplays in a matter of hours! Unfortunately my typing skills will never match those of Ben, but I have been pleasantly surprised as to how therapeutic punching those old keys and listening to the unique sound they make on our vintage typewriter has been and has brought back many happy memories of working in a busy charging room in my early police career.

Hecht sure was a force to be reckoned with in Hollywood. It was once said that those Chicago newspapermen were just gangsters using a typewriter rather than a tommy gun. He once asked his name to be removed from the credits of a movie because the director changed one of his scenes!! Although Hecht re wrote the Gone with The Wind scenes in order to condense Sydney Howard’s original screen play from six hours to three he was never credited with his contribution and the Oscar went to Howard.

Rehearsals for this production have been marvelous and, although I have known Mark for many years, this is only the second time we have shared a stage together, the first being a pantomime. He played one of the ugly sisters and re wrote several scenes in that production which would have given Sydney Howard a run for his money!! Vinnie and Lorraine I hadn’t met before and it has been a pleasure to work with them. The production crew have also been outstanding.

I am sure you will enjoy this fast paced funny and thoughtful play and hope it brings back some happy memories of one of Hollywood’s greatest films ever made. N.B. Watch how Vinnie is playing Melanie and Prissy; believe me, he deserves an Oscar!

BOOK NOW to see Moonlight & Magnolias; 30th September–7th October

Phill Clegg, September 21, 2017,


Prompting for a pacy play

Ciao, I’m David Lyons and I joined Saddleworth Players at the tail end of last season in April.

 

Here I am now, writing this blog, letting you know about the play I’m prompting for, called Moonlight and Magnolias. At its core the play is a comedy, with an outer shell of farce. Yet, beneath these comic elements is a tragic undercurrent of social commentary. The play is set in 1930s America: World War II looms (albeit in distant Europe), and the place of Jewish immigrants, even those in Hollywood’s high ivory towers, is precarious.

 

The action focusses on three Hollywood big shots (and one secretary) frantically attempting to rewrite the screenplay for the epic Gone With The Wind in five days, with production closed down and executives breathing down the neck of the producer. Through the characters’ scrambling descent into madness, squalor, and banana strewn surroundings, the play also examines creative drive, the pressure of showbusiness and the responsibility of artists to represent things for how they are, or perhaps in Hollywood for how they are not.

 

When I originally sat amongst the cast and crew at the read through, the feature that struck as most obvious at first was the sheer pace and fluidity of the play, even then during our first experience of it together, huddled round, wondering how these characters, costumes, sets and scenes would all materialise before our collective gaze within the next couple of months.

 

As a result of this speed, trying to come between actors during intense, relentless scenes of creative delirium both real and acted, is a difficult task. Acting as prompt is always hard in the sense that you have to not only sometimes interrupt actors in full flow, some of whom may never stop unless they are stopped, but also because there is always a sense of waiting for someone to slip up. This is, however, a cynical approach overall, and a better idea is to encourage the actors, guide them when they lose their place and reassure them when they doubt their own abilities to remember their lines, something which is nearly always overstated.

 

Now the books are down, that ability is truly put to the test, but my faith in the actors delivering the end product is never in doubt… Question is, will their characters be able to do the same?

 

BOOK TICKETS to see Moonlight & Magnolias on our booking site.

David Lyons, September 17, 2017,


From Duckling to Northern Ballet to Bagpipes

Hello I’m Colin Watt and I’m stage managing Moonlight & Magnolias.

I started in theatre at the ripe old age of three, as a duckling in the pantomime Mother Goose, at Rochdale Road Methodist Church, mainly because both my parents were involved in theatre, and now 70 years on I am still treading the boards. Through all these years I have played many parts, from chorus to principle, I have also been involved in all aspects of theatre having directed over 40 shows, plays, pantomimes and musicals, 14 of these for Uppermill Stage Society, as well as choreographing a large number of these shows, designing and building sets, organising, and operating both sound and lighting, box office, oh, and making the tea and coffee when necessary.

I am a member of a number of societies in the area, but have tried to stay true to the local societies since moving to Uppermill in 1988. I joined both Uppermill Stage society and Greenfield Methodist Players in 1992, next in line was St. Chadds All Stars in 1996, Saddleworth Musical Society in 2008 and Saddleworth Players in 2012.

Over the years I have danced with the White Heather Club and the Northern Ballet, performed at the Opera house Manchester, Palace theatre, and been on almost every stage in the area, and over the years before moving to Uppermill gained 7 awards.

After playing the Prussian, in the Student Prince, I became interested in “stunt” work, organizing, and choreographing sword fights, and, as well as stunts on stage, I got very involved with stunt riding on motorbikes and later in cars, obviously this was not done on stage. I gained my pilot's licence in 1993 and have flown over 600 hours as pilot in command, being involved in flypasts at local airfields, flying my own aircraft.

I have also played the bagpipes in Brigadoon seven times, and played them in front of both Sir Alex Douglas Home, and Princess Anne.

Enjoy the play.

Moonlight & Magnolia opens Saturday 30th September-7th October. Full details and tickets available on www.saddleworthplayers.org.uk/shows/all.

Colin Watts, September 12, 2017,


Frankly, my dear ...

Hi, I’m Verity Mann and I’m directing Moonlight and Magnolias, our first play of the season, and one of my favourite comedies.

The premise of the play – the re-writing of the screen play of Gone With The Wind is loosely based on fact and the characters all legendary Hollywood greats. Central to the play is David O Selznick, the Producer’s, crazy desire to put Margaret Mitchell’s block busting novel on the big screen. There’s just one snag. The re-write guy, Ben Hecht hasn’t read the novel. Over the course of five days, Selznick and Victor Fleming, recently pulled off directing The Wizard of Oz, act out all the scenes fueled only on a diet of ‘brain food’, bananas and peanuts and becoming increasingly weary and psychotic.

It’s a madcap, high-speed comedy but with a social conscience too which gives it a depth and a darker edge and more for the actors to really get their teeth into.

Four weeks away from opening night we’re in the privileged position of having a fully working set and great props and we’re pretty much books down too so each rehearsal gives us an opportunity to finesse the action and play up the comedy. I’ve been blessed with a truly fabulous cast and crew which makes directing it great fun and an absolute pleasure. I’m not even tired of bananas yet!

Moonlight & Magnolia opens Saturday 30th September-7th October. Full details and tickets available on www.saddleworthplayers.org.uk/shows/all.

Verity Mann, September 11, 2017,