Madhatters Theatre Club

 


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Madhatters Theatre Club – Annual Report 2016-17

Welcome to the Madhatters’ AGM 2017 and the Annual Report.

This has again been a year of two halves for the Madhatters. We continued reading plays and meeting in members' houses until the end of 2016.

But then things livened up after Christmas, when we put on a very successful three-performance variety show in early March at King’s Hall (KH). A forty minute play by the Madhatters, Dear Departed by Stanley Houghton, a terrific Edwardian comedy. With magic by Harold, singing by Maggie Robson and a variety of turns by King’s Hall groups, Burns recital and singalong with Cathy Mercer, Bond songs by Cathy McManamon and crucially, Irish dancing and Gospel singing by KH groups (both Friday evening only), accompanied on keyboard by Tom and all splendidly compeered by Jess.

Stanley Houghton’s Dear Departed is a wonderful play that works remarkably well more than a century after it was first staged. It was also tailor-made for our group, with a cast of six, mostly getting on a bit! It’s a slice-of-life comedy about a family looking after their old granddad who they decide has died after he takes an extended nap to sleep off a few beers. They’re in the middle of dividing up his mortal remains when the door opens and granddad appears…

Martin directed us as ably as ever and Gillian and Martin took the lead as Henry and Amelia, with whom granddad lives. Adeline played the grasping sister, with Cathy donning a deep voice as her husband, which got a few laughs. Lia was delightful as the young daughter, the only family member to question the rejoicing at granddad’s departure, and Jess was splendid as the healthy hearty Mr Abel Merryweather, who poops the party by turning out not to be departed after all.

We managed with a minimal set and had good audiences for all three shows, including a Saturday matinee. We gave the audience tea and chocolate biscuits for a donation and no one complained at the ticket price of just £3. People also bought raffle tickets galore and we more than covered our costs, with a bit towards our next show.

The first half of the show was variety, with Maggie Robson singing songs from the shows every show and Harold performing amazing magic and mind-reading. We are glad that he has recovered from his illness.

On Friday evening we were joined by pupils from the Cullen Carroll Irish Dance and the Gospel Choir from the United Pentecostal Church, both KH groups. Both groups performed brilliantly.

For the Saturday shows Cathy had the audience signing Robbie Burns’ songs and Maggie recruited Cathy McManamon to perform songs from Bond movies.

Many thanks to Bob and Eileen for doing teas on the Friday evening, Simon for lights and sound and Tom for tinkling the ivories for the two Saturday shows.

Managing new volunteers has been the same old story: many people contact us but few stay, though we seem to be getting fewer recruits. However, we are delighted that some of our volunteers have stayed, some for several shows and we hope that they will stay on. Azra joined us as prompt for Dear Departed. She did a great job helping with publicity and has visited a few times since but seems too busy to get involved regularly. We were also pleased to welcome Lia to our group for acting in the Dear Departed and are glad that she plans to join us in our autumn show. Lia's mother Bruna was terrific helping front-of-house every evening of the show. We are also delighted that Sasha has become a regular on Wednesday evenings.

Gillian has taken a break from acting but hope that she will return in the autumn. She lives locally, runs another KH group and joined us for a trip to the Tricycle Theatre in June.

We have again renewed our KH membership (£5 per person per year) and continue to meet on a Wednesday nights. We plan to return to KH in the summer holidays to start rehearsals for our November show and then another spring KH Variety Show, working with active groups again. Spring seems to work better as the old variety show December date was always too busy.

We are, as ever, grateful for all our supporters: audience, front of house, especially Bob and Eileen, Alan, reviewers, green grocers… and are delighted that magician Harold is up and running again. And we look forward to another late autumn show – drama and magic.

Cathy Mercer, Secretary, and Martin Redston, Chairman

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Madhatters Theatre Club – Annual Report 2015-16

Welcome to the Madhatters’ AGM 2016 and the Annual Report.

This has been a year of two halves for the Madhatters. We put on a very successful show at Christmas at King’s Hall (KH) but since then we have been meeting at a member’s house and play reading; with a possible eye to staging a show at Christmas with just one act from a play, especially since our popular local magician became ill. We have, as ever, a major problem with recruitment and retention of new members and KH is also going through a low period.

At the end of November/early December we staged an evening of melodrama and other entertainment. Tom did a fantastic job directing us in the Tram Track Tragedy (TTT). Cathy, Adeline, Gillian, Jess and Martin all had major roles, with Cathy as wronged innocent (and very stupid) heroine Nelly, Adeline as her much brighter and braver sister Belle (Nell, it’s Belle, just hang on in there, Nell), Martin an evil Sir Putrid Canker, complete with evil moustache, Gillian the Gypsy Lemuel, aka telegraph boy and detective, and Jess his ever excellent chair. We were joined by Adam as Claud Body and Simon did his work on sound and light.

We improvised with magic, community carol-singing and a quiz, with questions set by Cathy on trams, tracks and tragedies. Louise Jones’ young daughter also joined us some nights with a couple of songs. Adeline was an excellent quiz mistress and, along with tea and mince pies and Eileen running the raffle, this was an excellent evening for just £3. We were especially grateful for Harold’s magic, which always goes down well. We were saddened at his sudden illness in the weeks after the show but are glad that he is now well again.

In previous years, in the week after our own show, we’ve run the KH Christmas Variety Show but other KH groups are clearly struggling and did not seem interested this year. We also had no KH Autumn Fayre this year – things have been very quiet since Jackie and Valerie pulled out of KH.

We were all set to stage a pared-down version of Oscar Wilde’s Importance of Being Earnest in June. Although Adam pulled out after the one show (moving to pastures new!) Mary and Maria, who had acted several times with us, expressed interest in the young lady parts and Fraser was tempted by the part of Algernon. However, Mary and Maria took parts with another group and Fraser found the journey a long one, so we decided to have a rest. We've been enjoying reading a range of comedies borrowed from nearby Child’s Hill Library. We also enjoy socials, especially visits to shows staged by family and friends, eg Cathy’s brother’s launch party for his pastiche Sherlock Holmes stories.

Managing new volunteers has been the usual story: many people contact us but few stay, though we seem to be getting fewer recruits. However, we are delighted that some of our volunteers have stayed for several shows and we hope that they will stay on. We have also been pleased to welcome trained actress Anne to our group since Christmas.

We have renewed our KH membership (£5 per person per year) and continue to meet on a Wednesday night, but not at KH. We would like to stage a show there in the late autumn and will definitely run a daffodil-planting to celebrate 70 years of community events at KH. However, the poor state of the other groups means that an autumn fayre and Christmas Variety Show is simply not on the cards.

Storage of our equipment has temporarily been resolved but may well become an issue again, since things are changing still at Malorees Junior School.

We are, as ever, grateful for all our supporters: audience, front of house, especially Bob and Eileen, reviewers, green grocers… and are delighted that magician Harold is up and running again. And we’re thinking about another late autumn show – maybe The Cold, Cold Snow?

Cathy Mercer, Secretary, and Martin Redston, Chairman

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The Madhatters Theatre Club is a registered charity (Registered charity No. 1095317)
and is affliated to the Brent Arts Council
© 2018 Madhatters Theatre Club

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