Theatre

HAMLET (1975)
“Hamlet” opened at the Theatre Royal in Bath and was produced by David Conville who created the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre in London. It was directed by Mervyn Willis. From there it toured England before flying to Calcutta for The British Council to begin a four month tour of India and Ceylon. It played for Mrs Gandhi, then Indian Prime Minister, in New Delhi and as a direct result international politics changed course. One of her Ministers’ daughters saw the play and encouraged her father to see it too. As a result his mind was changed and thousands of Ugandan Asians were repatriated from Idi Amin’s fearful regime to India instead of England.
Hamlet was a sort of “Shakespeare Wallah” tour and the cast met the family of Felicity Kendal in Bombay which included Shashi, Jennifer and Raj Kapoor, the most handsome of them all.
On the last night of all, having been well hosted throughout, the cast, installed in the faded grandeur of The Galle Face Hotel in Columbo with striking staff, enjoyed the setting sun over the Indian Oceon. Great times.
Mrs Banderanaike attended and the netting hanging on the sides of the theatre that night had trapped bats inside. They dive bombed Hamlet’s head during his soliloquies.
Claudius was played by Gary Raymond who starred with Charlton Heston in the epic Hollywood film “El Cid”.

KATIE MULHOLLAND (1983)
“Katie Mulholland” was originated and directed as a musical by Ken Hill, who produced and wrote the first “Phantom of the Opera” at Stratford East with Joan Littlewood. “Katie Mulholland” was written by the hugely prolific Catherine Cookson, who was rather surprised on meeting the cast in rehearsal to discover that Stephan Chase, cast as Bernard Rosier, was fair with blue eyes. Her version of Bernard was very dark with coal-black eyes. Stephan, when questioned by her about this, was quick-witted enough to say he “acted” dark! The musical was a smash at the Tyne and Wear Theatre, Newcastle. Music was by Eric Boswell who wrote “Little Donkey”, the famous Christmas number originally sung by Nina and Frederick.

LIBERTY OREGON (1994)
“Liberty Oregon” is set against the real-life background of an almost unknown and hidden repetitious? immigrant Polish logging community in Oregon before WW2. It tells the story of a daughter’s search through the nightmare backwoods of ignorance, human misery and political corruption, for her missing father.
The play, featured at the Edinburgh Festival in The Traverse Theatre Studio, had an earlier and successful run at the World’s End Theatre in Chelsea. Stephen Chase played the father Novitski.

PRIVATE LIVES (1985)
“Private Lives”, Noel Coward’s light comedy, was directed by Val May with Gerald Harper and Isla Blair in the cast. It opened in Plymouth before transferring to the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford as their 25th anniversary production where it was a sell-out. During the last week Charlton Heston, who had just finished starring in “The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial” at Queen’s Theatre saw the show and met Stephan Chase together with Isla Blair in her dressing room afterwards. He expressed admiration for the performances and in particular loved Stephen Chase’s character’s beard – much to the annoyance of Miss Blair! Stephan Chase was a big fan of C. Heston.

SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER (1976)
Stephan Chase was a fan of Montgomery Clift, who starred in the Joseph L Mankiewicz film of this Tennessee Williams play co-starring Elizabeth Taylor and Katherine Hepburn. This theatre production was in the Casson Room of The Thorndyke Theatre studio and set in the round. Stephan Chase played Dr Cukrowicz (as did Clift) and each night the audience squirmed visibly as the good Doctor’s hypodermic entered the vein of his glamorous young female patient, the actress Hetty Baines, who was later to marry Ken Russell who directed “Women in Love”. Circles!

THE RULES OF THE GAME (1982)
“The Rules of the Game” by Pirandello was directed by Anthony Quayle and starred Leonard Rossiter, Mel Martin and Stephan Chase as Guido. Having opened in Guildford, it played the Theatre Royal Haymarket before a national tour and then the Phoenix Theatre in London. Sarah Miles, who starred as Ryan’s daughter in the film directed by David Lean, had originally been cast as Guido’s Mistress.

THE TEDDY BEARS’ PICNIC (1987)
This brilliant play about Stalin was written as part of The Stalin Trilogy by David Pinner. The action is set between 1938 and 1952 over a series of menacing yet bizarre communist-style Sunday lunch parties which Stalin held at his dacha near Moscow for the Politburo. Very funny and very dark, the play was produced for the Gateshead Theatre in Chester and directed by Philip Partridge. Stalin was played by Philip Madoc. It was a sell-out.

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