RECORD KEEPERS REPORT
Rene - Lindzi Hayward *
A star performance* from Lindzi, who took the bulk of the lines as the antihero Rene and proved to be the cornerstone that the production required. His straight delivery - perfectly timed and with impeccable accent - provided the platform on which the other characters could frolic. Comparisons with Gordon Kaye, who played Rene in the TV series, are unavoidable. Lindzi may lack Kaye’s girth and receding hairline but he adopted his mannerisms with great success, and this helped to make it a comfortably familiar experience for the audience. Very well done.
Edith - Joyce Brown
This was perhaps Joyce’s most demanding role to date as Rene’s batty better half, Edith. However, Joyce coped with the large quantity of lines very well, which was made all the easier by her excellent French accent. She also improvised well when required. My only complaint would be that Joyce sings a little too well to play the tone-deaf Edith, who, as Rene might say, couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket.
Herr Flick - Simon Perkins
I’ve always said that Simon would make a good Nazi, and this was proven correct here as he gave a masterfully silly turn as the Gestapo crackpot, Otto Flick. The cane and the black leather trench coat suited him very well: the high heels and the usherettes uniform, less so. “The Gestapo are recruiting some very unstable types of Germans these days,” reflected General Von Schmelling. How true.
Helga - Joanne McBrearty
Here was another faultless performance by Jo, this time as the ravishing Helga Geerhart. With her hair tied up in Hitler-youth style and her suspenders embroided with swastikas she really looked the part too! As one of the ‘straight’ characters she did particularly well to maintain her neutral expression, when faced with, not one, but two completely laughable lovers: Herr Flick and Captain Bertorelli, both hamming it up for all they were worth.
Captain Bertorelli - Dave Freeley
Bertorelli, the madcap Italian ‘war hero’ proved just the part for Dave, who went at it with his usual exuberance and got a big cheer almost every time he walked on. Ignoring the director’s pleas to follow the script he kept the audience amused (and the poor prompt bemused) from first to last. Excellent singing as well.
Colonel Von Strohm - Geoff Brown
Not such worries about Geoff not following the script: he had the bloody thing in front of him for most of the performance! (Cleverly disguised as a menu, I believe.) A larger than normal role here for Geoff, but he has proven before - particularly in the murder mystery Dead of the Past - that he’s more than comfortable in the spotlight. He got to grips with the role of the Colonel with ease and his accent couldn’t be faulted. Well done.
Michelle - Dorothy Levens
This was a welcome return to the stage - after recent prompting duties - for Dorothy as the resistance fighter and master of disguise, Michelle. Like the majority of the cast, she got the accent just right. But unlike the majority of the cast, she also knew all her lines. Ad-libbed well, when others went awry.
Lieutenant Gruber - Ashley Steer
Having played the dame in our pantomime back in February, big butch Ashley was hankering for a rather manlier role this time around. Well, he just about got his wish here, playing Gruber, the camp German officer who only has eyes for Rene. In fact, Ashley gave a nicely understated performance as the lovelorn Lieutenant, in similar style to Guy Siner, who played him in the TV series.
Yvette - Julie Morrey
There was only one choice as to who got to play Rene’s lusty, husky waitress Yvette, and that was Julie of course. And, as always, she gave it oomph a-plenty. When not pouting or throwing herself into Rene’s arms, Julie earned some big laughs with the inflatable dummy routine. “ ’Ere, let me do it,” she said, taking off the dummy’s trousers, “I ‘ave more experience.”
Mimi - Karen Williams
Similarly, who else but little Karen could have played the diminutive bombshell Mimi Le Bonque? This was a lot more fun than Karen’s last role and she threw herself into it with gusto. Not only did she know all her lines perfectly, but she was also in charge of half of the café props. Well done!
General Von Schmelling - Dick Hunkin
Special praise is due for Dick, whose impressive debut brought not only a superb German accent but also an angular menace to the role of Von Schmelling. He had little difficulty learning his lines and so it was ironic (but ultimately rather amusing) that his one little slip should throw the group’s two most experienced actors, Lindzi and Simon, into such complete confusion. We expect great things from him in future productions.
Maria - Carol Richardson
Carol gave a nice turn as the sexy waitress turned freedom-fighter, Maria, who was Michelle’s right-hand woman and also yet another love interest for randy Rene. She persevered well to master the French accent and looked positively angelic in her nun’s habit.
Crabtree - Jonathan Goodson
Weighed down by his directorial duties, Jonathan took the smallest role he could as the vowel-mangling gendarme. But even so, he was still not able to pick up the accent sufficiently well to satisfy scurrilous 3 Counties Radio DJ Nick Lawrence, who suggested he sounded more like Inspector Clouseou! “ He gave me a smell slot to say some fanny lines” as Crabtree might have put it, “and then pissed comment on them very shitly after.”
Leclerc - Stephen Tallett
Another impressive debut, this time from 15-year-old Stephen, who took on the specially adapted role of Grandson-of-Leclerc. His accent was perfect, he learnt his lines weeks ahead of the rest of the cast and he played the idiotic resistance bungler with a genuine flourish. Very well done!
The British Airman - Tracy
Yet another debut! Our thanks go to Tracy for stepping into the breach and playing the half-witted airman. But what a pity she had to be hidden behind the bar for most of the performance! We hope to see more of her in future productions.
Director - Jonathan Goodson
With a cast of 15, not including extras, and a set split into 8 different rooms this turned out to be an ambitious directorial debut for Jonathan. The script was purged of all extras, and the set was eventually compacted down into two-and-a-half rooms, but the whole gang of 15 (including 3 debutants) were never once all together at the same time until the first performance! Fortunately Jonathan was able to deal with the stress of it all by snarling at the cast every now and then. Quite right too! Jonathan hopes to be released from the secure facility in time to take the helm for our next production in October.
Musical Director - Fred Thomas
Our most sincere thanks to Fred for turning up and sorting out our musical numbers for us. His excellent piano accompaniment to Edith’s songs (and his coaching during rehearsals) proved crucial on the night. And his tinkling during scene changes etc also helped a lot! Cheers, Fred!
Violin - Jennifer Tallett
Big thanks, also, to young Jennifer for playing ‘I Can’t Help It’ and ‘The Stripper’, whilst Herr Flick mimed along atrociously on stage. It was beautifully done.
Prompt - Catherine Grieff
Not only prompt but also special artwork consultant. Many thanks to Catherine for painting for us her very own version of the ‘Fallen Madonna With The Big Boobies’. Hope we’ll see her back on stage herself for the next production.