Playgoers Set to Raise Curtain on New Season

July 28, 2015

Never let it be said that Newport Playgoers rest on their laurels. After a highly successful season that saw them win several awards, the local amateur dramatic society is preparing to unveil a new programme of plays.

Playgoers’ new season opens with ‘Up Pompeii’. Previously Playgoers ventured to ancient Rome with ‘A Funny Thing Happened On The Way to the Forum’. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Playgoers’ new season opens with ‘Up Pompeii’. Previously Playgoers ventured to ancient Rome with ‘A Funny Thing Happened On The Way to the Forum’. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Rehearsals are already well under way for September’s offering, ‘Up Pompeii’, the stage version of the show that Frankie Howerd made such a hit on TV. Like Playgoers’ last venture to ancient Rome, ‘A Funny Thing Happened On The Way to the Forum’, this romp is packed with nubile slave girls and saucy double meanings that are sure to raise lots of belly laughs.

In contrast, October’s play is Charles Dickens’ spooky classic ‘The Haunting’. It’s followed by ‘The Ladykillers’ based on the much-loved Ealing comedy about a gang of crooks in a boarding house and their clumsy attempts to murder their little old landlady.

The new year brings ‘As You Like It’ which is considered by many to be one of Shakespeare’s greatest comedies with its heroine, Rosalind praised as one of his most inspiring characters. There’s plenty of black humour as well as drama in ‘The Anniversary’ in which a domineering mother keeps a tight hold on all three of her sons with gifts, threats and ruthless exploitation of their weaknesses – but as the family is brought together to celebrate Mum’s wedding anniversary (regardless of deceased Dad) revolt is in the air.

One of the highlights of last season - ‘According to Claudia’ by local writer Phil Mansell won the award for Best Play presented by the Gwent Drama League. (PHOTO; PHIL MANSELL)

One of the highlights of last season – ‘According to Claudia’ by local writer Phil Mansell won the award for Best Play presented by the Gwent Drama League with several cast members nominated for best actor awards. (PHOTO; PHIL MANSELL)

Playgoers New Generation take to the stage in March with a play about the swashbuckling adventures of ‘Robin Hood’, and this is followed Ibsen’s classic story of repressed Scandinavian sexuality, ‘Ghosts’.

On a lighter note, May sees the stage version of the 1960s film classic ‘The Graduate’ in which young Benjamin Braddock, who is worried about his future, is seduced by the infamous Mrs Robinson. The season ends with ‘Maurice’s Jubilee’, a play set in the royal celebrations of 1977. This play by award-winning actress and writer Nichola McAuliffe. is a funny and poignant exploration of one man’s enduring commitment to his dream of meeting the Queen – and an eternal love triangle fallen on hard times.

Another winning play  from last season – the musical comedy ‘Nunsense’ won the award for Best Overall Production. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Another winning play from last season – the musical comedy ‘Nunsense’ won the award for Best Overall Production. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

It all adds up to a season of plays with something for everyone. A new innovation will be the introduction of signing for the deaf on the Thursday evening performance of every play.

Playgoers who own and run the city’s 400-seat Dolman Theatre are always looking for new members and have a special introductory offer of a first year’s membership for £70 for adults (a saving of £42.50) or £35 for students (a saving of £41.50). They are always looking for volunteers keen to help out with the staging of each production. This includes everything from doing front of house, box office or serving refreshments and sweets and programmes. Or maybe you have the urge to tread the boards or work backstage. Everyone is welcome – you’ll find it’s a great way to make new friends – and have fun! For more information or to book tickets call 01633 263670 or visit www.dolmantheatre.co.uk.


Ruth Scoops Acting Awards Galore

July 23, 2012

Ruth Ferguson was named Newport’s best actor when she was presented with the prestigious Webley Award at Newport Playgoers Society’s AGM.

Ruth Ferguson with her awards

Ruth Ferguson is pictured with Playgoers President Richard Dymond and some of the awards won by ‘The Lady in the Van’. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Ruth won the coveted award for her portrayal of an eccentric bag lady in the title role of Playgoers’ production of Alan Bennett’s ‘The Lady in the Van’.

It is the latest award recognising Ruth’s outstanding performance as Miss Shepherd, a real life character who “temporarily” parked her van in the Yorkshire playwright’s garden and stayed there for 15 years.

Ruth Ferguson as 'The Lady in the Van'

Ruth Ferguson in her award-winning role as the eccentric Miss Shepherd in ‘The Lady in the Van’. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Recently, Ruth won the Gwent Drama League award for best actress and the play also picked up prizes for best decor, best play and best overall production.

“I am really pleased to have won this award,” said Ruth who has been a member of Playgoers for over 30 years. “I now realise that the way to win awards is to play smelly old ladies with double incontinence!”

The Webley Award is presented by Playgoers each year in honour of Thomas Webley, the Society’s first President, who was Principal of Caerleon College, which is now the University of Wales, Newport.

Ruth will be in action on the Dolman stage in Newport Playgoers’ exciting new season which includes ‘Dad’s Army’, ‘Calendar Girls’ and ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’. The new season opens with Noel Coward’s witty supernatural comedy ‘Blithe Spirit’ on 12th September. To find out more information and book tickets call the Dolman Theatre box office on 01633 263670 or visit www.dolmantheatre.co.uk.


Versatile Ryan Wins Best Actor Award

July 8, 2011
Ryan Salter Webley Winner 2011

Top actor Ryan Salter (centre) surrounded by other cast member of ‘The Titfield Thunderbolt’ (left to right) Richard Dymond, Nicky Davies, the play’s director Claudia Barnes, Clare Drewett and Bruce Campbell (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Ryan Salter was named Newport’s best actor when he was presented with the prestigious Webley Award at Newport Playgoers Society’s AGM.  Ryan won the coveted award for his versatile playing of five roles – including a grumpy old codger, a village policeman and a middle-aged woman – in Playgoers’ production of the popular Ealing comedy ‘The Titfield Thunderbolt’.

Ryan Salter in The Titfield Thunderbolt

Ryan Salter as a policeman, one of the five roles he played in 'The Titfield Thunderbolt'. He is pictured with Nicky Davies (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

“I was really pleased and proud to be voted the winner of this award, especially as I was up against some very tough competition from some of South Wales’s finest amateur acting talent,” said 27-year-old Ryan.

During the course of the madcap comedy, Ryan had to make 16 quick costume changes and was on stage for much of the time.

“It was pretty hectic but lots of fun,” said Ryan who studied Drama in Theatre and Media at Glamorgan University. “The play was an incredible group effort. It was one of the most innovative, creative and well-received productions that the Dolman Theatre has ever staged.”

 Ryan started acting since he was 12 when he joined Dolman Youth Theatre and he was in their production of ‘Moonfleet’ which was taken to the National Theatre inLondon. He is now busy preparing for his next challenging role – of Manuel, the hapless Spanish waiter in ‘FawltyTowers’ which will be produced in September.

The Webley Award is awarded by Playgoers each year in honour of Thomas Webley, the Society’s first President, who was Principal of Caerleon College, which is now the University of Wales, Newport.

Newport Playgoers also scooped five awards in the recent Gwent Drama League presentations, for their production of the gritty drama ‘Going Straight’. Clare Drewett and Bob Brown, won best supporting actor awards. And the play also won prizes for  best play, best production and best set..


Newport Playgoers Scoop Gwent Drama League Awards

July 5, 2011

Director Catherine Cook at the Gwent Drama League Awards

Newport Playgoers were celebrating after scooping five awards for their production of the gritty drama ‘Going Straight’. As well as winning the awards for best play, best production and best decor, two of the cast, Clare Drewett and Bob Brown, won best supporting actor awards.

The play, by Richard Harris, tells the story of two ex-gangsters and their wives meeting up on the Costa del Crime and re-living their glory days in 60s London. It was staged at Newport’s Dolman Theatre in February.

Winners of the best supporting actors awards, Bob Brown as Ray and Clare Drewett as Brenda in 'Going Straight'

Winners of the best supporting actors awards, Bob Brown as Ray and Clare Drewett as Brenda in 'Going Straight'

Commenting on the production’s success, the play’s director Catherine Cook , said, ” It was a wonderful awards evening and I felt extremely proud. I am genuinely surprised that we did so well – there was very stiff opposition from many other good societies and I honestly didn’t expect such an outcome.

“When you consider we only had a cast of five and that two of them won the best supporting categories I think it’s brilliant but well deserved. Bob Brown has recently crossed the divide from operatic to drama and has more than proved his worth. Clare Drewett is consistently good and very versatile as she’s shown with the numerous and varied roles she takes on.

“The adjudicator said our set design was be “the best ever seen on an amateur stage”. The design and construction was chiefly done by Graeme Johnson and Linda Ward who are always innovative in their ideas. They came up with the wonderful atmospheric and imaginative set which matched the mood and drama of the play.  Everyone connected with the play made it such a success from Dan Aston who did the lighting to Michelle Jenkins on sound, Chris Burrows on props and prompt Sue Morgan.”

Playgoers are currently beginning rehearsals for their 88th season which starts in September. Among the productions will be the stage version of ‘FawltyTowers,’ the outstanding drama ‘Frost/Nixon’, Alan Bennett’s ‘Lady in the Van’ and another Richard Harris play ‘Dead Guilty’. Further information about all the plays can be found on www.dolmantheatre.co.uk or by phoning the Dolman Theatre box office on 01633 263670.