Welcome to the Adel Players website
Founded in 1945, Adel Players is an amateur drama group with at present over 40 members. We put on three plays a year in our own theatre space at the Adel Memorial Hall in north Leeds as part of the Adel Sports and Social Club. Find out more at About Us.
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"Murdered to Death" finishes a great run
Our latest production, Murdered to Death, finished a hugely successful run on 21 October, playing to sell-out audiences for the last three nights and with more than five hundred audience members in total enjoying the fun.
Look out here shortly for production pictures along with reviews and audience reactions. Thanks as always to our loyal patrons for making this such a success. (And the director, actors and backstage crew: they weren't half bad either!)
Production Pictures for "Murdered to Death"
Our thanks to members Tony Zigmond and Shell Peart for contributing to this wonderful record of our most recent show.
Review of "Murdered to Death" from Adel Bells
Our thanks to Ann Lightman for this appreciative review of our last production, Murdered to Death:
Billed as a comedy thriller by Peter Gordon, the emphasis was very much on the comedy. Such a variety - hilarious word play (the loop system must have been appreciated), physical – the Police Inspector did a couple of falls that were spectacular, slapstick – e.g. the cream on the end of the nose, the walks; visual – the butler with axe, innuendo (not very PC but still funny to an older audience). I, and the rest of the audience, laughed a lot.
I suspect it would be quite difficult to do this play well – the timing must be immaculate and the actors had to deliver their lines with aplomb and straight faces – quite a challenge especially with so many malapropisms. “Casting nasturtiums”, the servant a “faithful container”, being “illuminated from the enquiry” were just a few. Naturally the cast of Adel Players achieved this seemingly effortlessly!
All ten characters were played with flair so it is unfair to single out any particular performance. Nonetheless I will say that Robert Colbeck’s first public performance (to my knowledge) as a woman (Miss Joan Maple) was a complete masterpiece, the face, the nervous hand movements – smoothing “her” skirt, tapping her fingers, the voice, the knitting – all wonderful. Especially the knitting – quite difficult to concentrate on that and remember the lines!
His performance was more-or-less matched by all those around him, playing such different roles recognisable as Agatha Christie characters – the retired army colonel, the shady art dealer, the inept (understatement!) Police inspector, the alcoholic butler (how was that “alcoholic flush” obtained? I worried that I might be witnessing a heart attack!). The women had marginally more normal roles as did the young Constable, but in comedic terms their roles were essential as the traditional “comedy straight man” – or in many cases here, women, which included two new to the Players. The effect of the dazzling mysterious visitor on the men was predictable and very funny!
I must congratulate the wardrobe for recreating 1930’s with breath-taking elegance. The clothes were enhanced by the make-up, hair styling… so evocative of the era. The play moved at a rapid pace which was helped by just one set being necessary – that of the spacious lounge.
To summarise, a wonderfully funny production staged to professional standards! We are just so lucky in Adel to have such a high calibre theatre group that works hard to provide such a wonderful and varied programme – of three performances a year plus the murder mystery.
Audience reactions to "Murdered to Death"
Here are some of the lovely comments we have had from patrons following the last play:
“Loved the production. Very impressed with the sound quality and the lighting rig. Great cast, with a special mention for David Lancaster…very funny as the Inspector!”
“I had an amazing time, you were all so good, my friend loved it and said that the actors, and the production were amazing to be an amateur group...”
“We loved it! Hilarious show.”
“…our sincere thanks to all concerned, including the support team, for a superbly enjoyable evening last Thursday. All in our group thoroughly enjoyed the play.
The character acting and the direction were truly excellent. I hope you have had many similar plaudits from others.”
And our thanks to John Hartley for the following appreciation:
Not the usual Murder Mystery Play. Peter Gordon wrote this unashamedly comedy spoof with characters taken directly from Agatha Christie and Inspector Clouseau of Pink Panther fame.
Dianne Newby the Director explained that Comedy is a serious business if it is to be played successfully. Some of you may remember the Morecambe and Wise sketch with Andre Previn which illustrates Dianne’s point nicely; not a single giggle or smile from the characters in an hilarious episode.
The setting was a country Manor House in the 1930s. 'The guests had come
to spend the weekend with the widowed Mildred and her niece Dorothy. The characters gave plenty of scope for suspicion and hilarity: Colonel Craddock and Margaret his wife; a glamorous aristocrat, Elizabeth Hartley-Trumpington; Pierre, a crooked, art dealer and Miss Joan “Maple” (get it) who attracts murders like ducks to water. Bunting, a discourteous, alchoholic Butler completes this motley crew.
Thanks to the presence of Miss “Maple” the inevitable murder occurs. The totally incompetent Inspector Pratt doesn’t just jump to conclusions he positively leaps to them. His loyal assistant the “put upon” Constable Thompkins tries his best to bring some order but is overwhelmed by the chaos and total confusion not helped by the Inspector’s malapropisms.
It is a wonderful script which develops the characters, faults and all, and provides rich grounds for comedy with misunderstanding and clever word play, or misuse it. It was clear to me that the Adel Players have developed a great team spirit and this was evident in their performances. This was confirmed by Dianne who said that it was a delight to direct and she very much enjoyed rehearsing it.
All very well but what did the audience make of it? A couple of quotes make the point “I really enjoyed it, it was wonderful” and “I absolutely loved it”. As we left the Hall you could hear the chuckling and laughter as folk made their way home. Thank you Adel Players for giving us a great night out.
STOP PRESS: "Broken Glass" gets brace of awards at the Wharfedale Festival of Theatre
We are delighted to report that our festival entry, Broken Glass, has been recognized at the July 2017 gala awards evening for the Wharfedale Festival of Theatre with prestigious wins in the following categories:
Best Actor Robert Colbeck
Best Actress Dianne Newby
Best Programme Shell Peart & Beth Duce
Best Stage Presentation David Newby
Best Play Broken Glass
Our very sincere thanks to all those who took part and who supported this production. It is gratifying indeed that we have now won best play in three of the last five years of the awards and we were runners-up in the remaining years. This can be put down to the hard work of our talented members but just as important is the wonderful support we enjoy from our loyal and much appreciated patrons.
AND: as a very special bonus, we were all especially thrilled that the Pat Dyson Spirit of Theatre award went to our own Vivienne Bate. Viv joined Adel Players 64 years ago in 1953, since which time she's acted, directed, worked backstage and front-of-house, was Secretary for 17 years, and still at the age of 85 she takes an active part in whatever is going on. Viv is a brilliant actress, a lovely person, and an inspiration to all of us, and it was a joy to see her contribution to amateur theatre recognised by more than just our members. Here she is receiving her award, and if you would like to see her member profile, just click here.
"Broken Glass" ends its run to audience acclaim
Our most recent production, Broken Glass, had its last performance on 29th April and was seen by over 300 audience members. Thanks as always to those who support us. Directed by Beth Duce, this lesser-known work from Arthur Miller was a challenge to stage but immensely rewarding and we were extremely gratified by the audience reaction to this powerful and emational piece. Scroll down for a sample of reactions and a review, and here also are some production pictures by way of reminder.
Audience reactions to Broken Glass:
““Broken Glass” – one of Adel Players’ best productions. Special congratulations to Rob and Dianne. Many thanks!”
“I just wanted to e mail my congratulations to all at Adel Players on the recent production of Arthur Miller's 'Broken Glass', which I saw on Friday night. I thought the whole production was impressive, not least the performance of Robert Colbeck as Phillip Gellburg which was superb. I was particularly impressed by his handling of the spectrum of emotion experienced by the character as well as keeping up a very good New York Jewish accent. It was an ambitious choice of play but everyone rose to the challenge. It is great to see how Adel Players are so versatile and not afraid to tackle the work of major playwrights.
A word about the scenery: this is an aspect of your productions that always amazes and delights me. I appreciate the hard work and dedication that go into a backdrop, props and costumes. All were spot on for the period. But the subtlety of the grey apartment walls with their glistening fragments reflecting not only the Broken Glass of the title, but the fractured marriage and indeed Kristallnacht itself, was genius.
I hope you will pass on my appreciation. I look forward to the next production”.
“Many, many thanks to all concerned for an excellent display of your talents last night at Adel Players. Apart from being emotionally drained, feeling upset and tearful at the very end, I can honestly say that I enjoyed it all. I was able to speak to Robert Colbeck afterwards in the bar and convey my thanks and appreciation for his and Dianne Newby's performances especially; mentioning that all the other actors played their parts so very well”.
“Wow a tour de force indeed! What an outstanding production of Arthur Miller's play, Broken Glass. One member of our group had seen it before many years ago at The Leeds Grand he thinks and rated this one as highly. And the previous one was obviously a professional production”.
"Broken Glass" by Arthur Miller, 26-29 April, directed by Beth Duce
Arthur Miller (1915 - 2005) is considered one of the greatest American playwrights of the 20th century. His best known plays include 'All My
Sons', 'A View from the Bridge', 'The Crucible' and the Pulitzer Prize-winning 'Death of a Salesman’.
His lesser known play 'Broken Glass' was written in 1994 and in the same year the London production won the Olivier Award for Best Play.
Set in Brooklyn in 1938, it centres around a Jewish couple Sylvia and Phillip Gellburg who, after years of marriage come to realise that they hardly know each other. Phillip, obsessed with work and his desire to assimilate, has little time for his wife Sylvia, but when she suddenly develops a mysterious paralysis after reading newspaper reports of "Kristallnacht" (two days of anti-Jewish violence by the Nazis which took place in November of that year) local GP Harry Hyman is called in and finds that Sylvia is obsessed by the horrific news from Germany. However, when he meets Phillip, he begins to uncover numerous deceptions and hostilities between them which may lead him to the answer.
Review of Broken Glass for "Adel Bells"
Our thanks go to Ann Lightman for this review of the production written for our community magazine:
Adel Players had chosen “Broken Glass” by Arthur Miller as their April production. So what had a play about a broken marriage set around a Jewish household in 1938 in New York have to offer Adel audiences? It soon became obvious that the themes were timeless, as relevant today (with Islam and the recent rise in hostility to all immigrants) as then. I felt it gave a valuable insight into the causes of domestic and racial violence and the showed the necessity of face-to-face communication.
In her Director’s notes Beth Duce the director wrote: “...and if our production gives you plenty of food for thought, we will be very content”. Box well and truly ticked! So many aspects to consider! I can see why Arthur Miller is/was on the school curriculum – deep issues woven into a powerful, gripping theatre experience. Masterful! That we could immerse ourselves in the play is due in no small measure to the professionalism of the Adel Players…actors and backstage….the setting and characterisation was superb.
The broken marriage comes to light when the wife (Dianne Newby) suddenly cannot use her legs, despite there being no obvious physical cause. Her husband (Rob Colbeck) visits the family doctor and it becomes immediately obvious that here is a man not at ease with himself despite being “a success”. Through the play, as the character unveils before us, we see how he has worked at his career to the detriment of every aspect of his life. He has repressed his Jewish heritage and, losing part of himself, is unable to relate to those around him. This uncommunicated repression erupts as violence, bringing the first Act to a dramatic and shocking close.
It seems the paralysis has been brought on by the wife reading newspaper accounts of the horror inflicted on Jews by the Germans on “Kristallnacht” in November 1938. The most visible image of this was the smashed glass of the Jewish-owned shop fronts – hence the German name for the pogrom and the title of the play – a translation. She asks why it was allowed to happen, where was the U.S. or Britain? The reaction of the other characters strikes us now, with hindsight, as odd/wrong – “why care, it is a far off country?” (Try substituting Syria for Germany!). The consequences of being passive can be as damaging as being violent (in a marriage or in a country).
One is led to ask why the repression? Again both in a marriage but also in a wider context. This is not just relevant to being Jewish – but is faced by all who differ by race, religion (e.g. Islam today), life-style, poverty. There is this drive to succeed, to lift the family out of poverty, to blend in. No wonder such people have mixed feelings about their roots – some try, successfully (the Doctor who married out), or unsuccessfully (Rob’s character) to repress them. Others become passionate about their promotion, which leads to problems within as well as outside the community.
A love of nature and beauty comes out strongly by at least two characters in the play. In “the old country”, many Jews were rural, but poverty (and the need to be within walking distance of a synagogue on the Sabbath) meant that immigrants became urbanised. Not having natural beauty easily accessible, human beauty becomes especially revered. The couple of references to female beauty reminded me that Miller (born in Brooklyn, N.Y, to Jewish immigrants) was married for five years to Marilyn Monroe. As this play was written in 1994 – very late in his career (he was 79 according to the helpful programme notes), I suspect some aspects of the play may be auto-biographical.
The three main characters of the cast, the married couple and their doctor, (David Lancaster) were ably supported by Jane Claire (doctor’s non-Jewish wife), Janet Porter (sister to the ill wife) and Owen Carey-Jones (non-Jewish boss). The New York setting was subtle but unmistakeable – the authentic script aiding the actors.
I would like to end with a “thank you” to the back-stage team. The stage set (lovely furniture!) immediately placed it in a wealthy 1930’s location. The wallpaper backdrop glinted like shards of glass, a constant reminder of the title. The three locations set alongside each other worked (though I was glad that the two main ones were so near to where I sat!). The costumes were superb – the totally black suit and tie worn by the husband immediately conjured up someone in mourning (for part of himself it transpired!). The ladies were so smartly and fashionably dressed, you were reminded that many Jewish immigrants became tailors. The seamed stockings were a nice touch (reminding many ladies in the audience of their youth I suspect!). The lighting was superb with a central “Star of David” sometimes prominent, sometimes not. The music added to the ambiance of the production, which was done in the round, so hopefully everyone felt part of the action. Some of us on the front row could hardly breathe as the tension mounted, we felt such a part of it!
Adel Players land prestigious awards in the 2016 Wharfedale Festival of Theatre.
We are delighted that our work has been recognized once again with several awards in the most recent Wharfedale Festival of Theatre. Our festival entry was the October 2015 production of Journey's End, and the awards announced at the gala festival evening were as follows:
Best Actor: James Willstrop
Best Supporting Actor: David Pritchard
Best Stage Presentation: Beth Duce and Shell Peart
To put this win into context, we were up against entries from 10 other drama groups as Drama (Adults) is easily the largest section of the Festival. Our thanks go to the director, Bernard Riley, and the rest of his production team who worked so hard to bring this about. And our congratulations of course to all the actors whose ensemble work made for a truly moving and memorable production. All concerned were determined to make sure we honoured the memory of those who served and died in the conflict this play depicts, and we are pleased that these awards reflect that determination.
MURDER MYSTERY MAKES A KILLING...
Many congratulations to the cast and crew of The Raffles Affair, our Murder Mystery written by our very own Andy Sneddon. There were sell out performances on 27 May at the Robert Craven Memorial Hall in Bramhope and then the following evening at AWMA. Setting the mystery in Singapore at the end of British colonial rule, Andy gave us glamour as well as intrigue and as usual it was great fun wading through the red herrings! We were delighted that the two performances raised just shy of £2000 which will provide a very welcome boost to AWMA funds, so thanks as always to our loyal patrons as well as all our good friends in the badminton section who provided catering, some in full evening dress!
Here are some pictures from one of the rehearsals and a reminder of the poster- with many thanks to Ed Hoskin of Ziss Design for his work on this.
And for a review which gives a great feel for these evenings, click here.
For more pictures, reviews and notes of recent productions click here
Video clips from 'The Importance of Being Earnest'
Watch highlights of our April 2014 production - click here for more clips and further information.