In fact, it was my brother, Julian, who displayed star quality at Flavia Pickworth’s theatre school. There was a certain air of mystery to his persona, possibly predictive of raging teenage hormones, which made for a rather magnetic stage presence. As if he didn’t really care if he was there or not. Along with a passing resemblance to David Essex (as was) the whole package made him quite a hit with the girls. He once told me the trick to it was to never move your head but only ever move your eyes. This stance clearly served him well when playing devilishly handsome villains but being five years younger and desperately eager to please it merely rendered my bulging eyed portrayal of Dick Whittington’s cat appear like I’d just caught Lupus… It didn’t even get me a pat from Sophie Yeates, which incidentally, was all I ever really wanted! So HCTG, congratulations on your 40th Anniversary, and may you bring untold joy to many more boys and girls in the future.
Happy Birthday HCTG. And thanks for giving our children the best possible introduction to the theatre. You gave them huge confidence and an appreciation of just what goes into the production of a play .. if they end up on the stage we’ll know who to blame!!
I loved being a member of HCT in the 80’s, and while being essentially tone deaf (but completely unaware that I was), I thoroughly enjoyed singing, dancing and acting. Another key element of HCT is being a part of the whole production process and learning how it all comes together. This stood me in good stead for my career as a 2nd Assistant Director in film/TV and I have found myself working on a few musicals in the last 2-3 years (Les Miserables, Muppets Most Wanted, Into the Woods) which can only be due to the influence of my years at HCT!
It is a wonderful way to spend Saturday mornings and as valuable for children wishing to learn about backstage as it is for those wanting to perform.
“From playing a rat on the stage at the Kenton to announcing the Royal Wedding on BBC 1 – both equally as nerve-wracking at the time! Via a Drama degree at Bristol University, I now work as a Broadcaster on television as an Announcer for the BBC and also as a Radio Presenter and Voice Artist. When I was younger I spent most of my Christmas holiday’s toe tapping and lyric learning with Muffin and the Henley Children’s Theatre (Group?) and I remember the days with great fondness. Incredible fun making our costumes, wonderful imaginations and creativity and a whole lot of patience, those Saturday sessions really were a highlight of my week.”
“I have to say, my memories as a toddling 3 year old taking part in my first panto at the Kenton are somewhat hazy – I’m sure my parents remember it well!
Of course, over the years I spent with the Henley Children’s Theatre Group, there were many funny moments and happy times that come vividly to mind – the eternal chaos backstage, the excitement of dressing up and performing, not forgetting Flavia’s often cutting remarks about a mother’s loving but fruitless attempt at costume-making!
Flavia made quite an impression on me as a child and having continued to work as a performer, I sometimes find myself thinking about her and wondering what she would say to me today. She always knew exactly what she wanted, and rarely appeared satisfied! This made me all the more determined to do well and, I’m pleased to say, ensured that the message of “giving it your all” was programmed in at a very early age.
Although the majority of work I do now is based in TV and Radio, I have often appeared in Panto and fondly remember my early days in Henley. I would like to pass my very best wishes to all my fellow Theatre Group friends and I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did!