Jun 20 2012 by Hannah Bewley, Harrow Observer
READING, rehearsing and perfecting a play doesn’t seem to be enough of a challenge for the Chameleons Amateur Dramatics Society, as members are also building a new stage in time for this week’s performances.
The hall which it currently uses for plays is more than sufficient but has undergone an overhaul so the audience can fully appreciate every witty line, carefully thought through hairstyle and hemline in The Happiest Days of Your Life.
The farcical play, about various mishaps in a public school, was written in post-war Britain by John Dighton and is performed in the style of the Ealing Comedies – a series of films produced by Ealing Studios in the 1940s and 1950s.
Chairman of the group, Robert Spolander, said he is looking forward to the prospect of performing in the round with the help of the new staging.
He said: “We read a lot of plays through the year and the group had already done this one twice before, years ago.
“Someone who was involved said how much fun it was and after everyone had read it we all agreed.
“It has really been a fun atmosphere while we have been rehearsing and a really enjoyable rehearsal period. The director has changed it and put it in the round. We are in the same venue where we always are, which has a stage and seating area. What we have done is put the lighting and some other bits on the stage and seated everyone round the stage in the middle. It will definitely add to it all.”
Director Stuart Everett said: “This is a very exciting proposition. Having the audience on all four sides, rather than just in front, means that the cast, and the director, have had to really think about movement and positioning.
“The lighting and sound have also been re-designed, so it’s a great challenge for everyone involved.”
The first time the group performed the play was in 1967, barely a year after they had formed.
This time around, the 13 cast members are injecting the play with as much humour as possible. Mr Spolander, 37, said: “We are trying to pack it full of characters and fun and all of them are being played for humour.
“It has a very British and fun feeling. The plot is thoroughly British and is very apt with the Jubilee celebrations and the Olympics on their way.
“The cast have responded really well to it and we have had a lot of good fun. There are a lot of very silly characters, which makes it all the more British.”
Mr Spolander plays the games master, who returns from the Second World War to find that a girls’ school has been accommodated into the traditional boys’ school he is so used to working in.
Eventually he falls for an attractive female teacher.
The wartime spirit of the play was alive as the entire cast clubbed together to help build the new staging in Kingland Hall.
“It has a lovely feel of a time gone by and that cheeky but friendly style made famous by Ealing comedies amongst others,” Mr Spolander.
“Hilary Hall School for Boys’ pupils and staff return after being evacuated to find they must pitch in as the country gets back on its feet.
“All sorts of fun characters are included such as a weak headmaster, a headstrong principal, a pretty young female teacher who catches the eye of the games master, a reverend and his wife come to see their daughter is in good hands, a screaming father and doting wife come to see the same of their boy and of course a totally batty caretaker and much more.”
The play is at Kingland Hall, United Reformed Church, East Lane, in North Wembley from today (Thursday) until Sunday, June 24, at 7.30pm each evening and 5pm on Sunday. Tickets are £10 or £9 for concessions.
Call the box office on 020 8123 6443 or visit www.thechameleons.co.uk.