A story I've told often but one that deserves being recorded here for posterity: I played Guy Burgess in the first of the two plays, and Elliot Relton-Williams was my Russian boyfriend, Tolya. On the opening night there was a severe snowstorm; Elliot had been having a quick ciggie outside the back door of the theatre wearing his heavy Russian overcoat and fur hat, and made his first entrance into my Moscow flat covered in real snow!
My first involvement with the Criterion was assisting Jeff Hadley with the set construction of Crime and Punishment. In those days, money was tight and materials short so there was a lot of what we now know as recycling. All nails were recovered and straightened, screws were few and far between and the wooden beer crates were repurposed for all manner of uses on stage.
There was always the smell of glue size used for both the powder scenic paint and canvassing of flats (none of this plywood malarkey back then).
Does anyone remember the Dravo hot air blower in the wings?
This play marked my first involvement with the Criterion. Assisting Jeff Hadley with the set build, I distinctly remember the welcome extended to me by the membership secretary (a certain Keith Railton) and the other cast and crew members. During the course of this play, Messers Bennett, Hadley and Brown became Geoff, Jeff and Terry outside of Caludon Castle while the were still Sir during the day at school.
Crime and Punishment introduced me to the amazing Criterion “family” which has been part of my life ever since.
This was my first time in a production at the Criterion. The thing I remember most about it was that at the end of the final dress rehearsal, I had bundled up my costume (which I was sharing with Gareth Withers) and stored it under a table. Linda Holmes, who was doing wardrobe was not very happy with this (quite rightly)! She asked me who I thought would be ironing the costume!? At the time I think I thought there was an ironing fairy (my Mum), but after this quickly realised that clothes left on the floor were NOT magically pressed. Life lessons taught by my friends at the Criterion.
Remember feeling very lucky to be part of this one. Such great performances. This was the performance where the wonderful Doug Griffiths had to recite a list of countries every night..never quite got them in the same order or indeed the same list..brings a smile to my face remembering this one.
My first production at The Criterion. A bit of a baptism of fire! Having never done anything before, it was a case of just ‘going for it’. Directed by the fabulous June Pickerill, this was a fantastic experience and cemented some lifelong friendships in the theatre, all because of Charlie Brown and his dog..
“Where did that little dog go...’ It’s all Matt Sweatman’s fault....
So many wonderful memories from this production. Some quite scary, it was an exhausting role (Constanze) but mainly, an amazing experience. Never once did this feel anything less than a professional production, everyone was performing at the top of their game, both cast and crew.
This, for me, as Angela, was my absolute favourite show. A pleasure from start to finish. The fashion, the writing, the wonderful direction from the much missed Pete Wood. A really great play, made great because I got to share the stage with my friends each night too. Fabulous stuff.
Felt honoured to be a part of this one. Definitely felt I was seeing something very special, expertly directed by a very young Gareth Withers and superb performances by all in the cast, but seeing something very special from Nicol and Jamie. The music was used so well in this, it was just amazing to be around for.
Vivid memories of being very hot and sticky for this one. So hot and sticky the costumes kept malfunctioning- namely our skirts kept falling off. Bucks Fizz eat your hearts out! Wonderfully camp, loads of fun. And the memory of Matt Sweatman dancing will stay with me for always...
My elder sister persuaded me to accompany her to see this production of Inherit the Wind. I was reluctant and had pretty low expectations of a little bunch of amateurs in an old disused chapel. I was so wrong. The production was stunning; a huge cast of very talented actors, a set which transported me into a realistic courtroom, lights, very professional setup. Little did I know then that six years later, I would be persuaded by a fellow teacher (the young actor who I had so admired in that production -John Hathaway) to return to the Criterion and join as an acting member. The rest is history.
Loved this. Drying our sweaty costumes in the sun between matinee and evening, and my skirt falling down mid dance because the glue on the belt failed because of the heat. And of course the amazing robot line dance to WipeOut
Such a fabulous poduction and a great cast. I had to go into the wardrobe at one point and burst out when the phone rang... one night of course the phone did not ring and after what seemed like a very long time, Keith proclaimed very loudly 'You can come out now'!
The very professional Mr.Ruscoe decided to put ice water in the bottle he squirted down my trousers during the fight in the store on the last night of the run. That was fun. I had my revenge for the final scene of the play, however. John had to play it completely immobilised in a hospital bed. The mattress was upholstered in vinyl. about ten seconds before he jumped in, I emptied a bottle of ice water onto the mattress. I loved working with John on that, and many other shows back in the late seventies. Of course, he is now in his late seventies. and I’m not :)
Oh what a lovely war. Wow. There were 102 sound cues. Many were critical. I do recall at the end event Geoff Bennett saying that sound effects had been outstanding and timed to perfection. Praise indeed. But it was a great show with some real Criterion greats
Pat and Denzil Pugh's son Marcus sent the following memory to Keith Railton who has included it here: “My father played Sky Masterson in Guys & Dolls and I have a feeling you played Nathan Detroit. But it wasn’t just family members who played a part at the Criterion. Household objects did too. I often went along to Dad’s rehearsals. I recall one night a ring box was needed for the moment you proposed to Adelaide. “I have a ring box” I enthusiastically chirped up from the back of the rehearsal. “A ring box?” you said disbelievingly from the stage, perhaps wondering what an eleven year-old boy was doing with a ring box. “Yes, a ring box. It’s an old-fashioned one with a catch and everything.” So you kindly gave my ring box a central part in the proposal scene – although I recall that on the night I saw the show you had trouble opening the catch. It was very good of you. Ring boxes, I am sure, were not in short supply in Coventry.”