Production 23 One Wild Oat

One Wild OatBy Vernon Sylvaine

Performed on Thu 8th to Sat 10th and Thu 15th to Sat 17th August 1963 at The Astor Theatre
Part of the Summer Drama Festival

 

 

The Cast

The Cast

Annie Mollie Boyce
Caroline Proudfoot Molly Fitzgerald
Gregory Throstle Tony Kilshawe
Cherrie Proudfoot Pamela Rye
Alfred Gilbey Ronald Latham
Fred Gilbey David Hanraty
Lydia Gilbey Doris Cohen
Mr. Pepys Conrad Sherwin
Charles Andrew Lawson
Gloria Samson Anne Varney
Mr. Samson Conrad Sherwin
Audrey Cuttle Clare Bradshaw

Cast of One Wild OatCast of One Wild Oat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Previews/Reviews

Previews/Reviews

One Wild Oat

Cast of One Wild Oat

He Stepped in for Bunny Hare and then Played Alongside Ralph Lynn

Tony Kilshawe, currently appearing in St. George’s Church Drama Guild’s successful farce One Wild Oat at The Astor Theatre, is a man of many parts, being actor, writer, interior decorator, artist etc., but it is the theatre which has always been his number one love and directed his life on its eventful path. He has been fortunate enough, he says, to derive nothing but pleasure from the theatre, for when the irksome periods arrive – and such periods are bound to be fairly frequent in such a precarious and overcrowded profession as show business, he is secure enough financially to be able to turn to one of his other pursuits until the urge to act is ripe again. He still vividly recalls his first serious performance at the age of 10, when he presented a solo effort of songs, dances, recitations, mime and comedy. Renting a school friend’s garden for 3d. and charging an admission of ½d., his first venture as a theatrical impresario resulted in the magnificent profit of 7½d.! When 14 he successfully passed an audition to become a member of the then famous Will Murrey Company, a theatrical touring company in which most of the leading comedians had started. Family opposition to the idea was too strong, however. By 19 he was successfully appearing at concerts as a singer of Negro spirituals, but the legitimate theatre still beckoned and it was a wonderful surprise when on his 21st birthday he found he had been given the offer of a year’s tuition at the Plymouth Repetory Co. and all other expenses met. Within 3 months he had become the company’s paid juvenile lead, and within 7 months he had left to play juvenile leads with a well-known touring Shakespearean company. Other tours followed; a long and very happy engagement with the English Players ; and the excitement of presenting a new and controversial costume play, only to discover on the morning of the dress rehearsal that the business manager had failed to send a copy of the play to the Lord Chamberlain’s office for censorship. Within a few weeks of the outbreak of war, Tony Kilshawe had formed his own company and from then until joining the R.A.F. in 1941 he was either giving plays to Army units in London and the Home Counties on behalf of Army Welfare Command or with a girl partner was helping to entertain the public in air raid shelters and underground stations. A posting to Nottingham as a leading aircraftman in the R.A.F. led to him meeting an old friend and fellow actor, A. J. Brown (then a Flight Lieutenant).

Cast of One Wild Oat

A.J. Brown comes from a very well-known Deal family, and is now regarded as one of the town’s leading theatrical celebrities. The formation of the R.A.F. Players followed and performances were given all over the country, the most memorable being that given to American aircrews. For security reasons, when the hundreds of American Lightning aircraft arrived at their vast airfield in North-Eastern England, all the personnel were confined to camp, and Tony and his friends were sent to entertain them. A few months later Tony Kilshawe was commissioned and sent on an administration course at the R.A.F college, near Morpeth. As the only prospective Entertainments Officer present among the hundreds of R.A.F. and W.R.A.F. officers, Tony was determined that the usual end-of-term concert should be something to be remembered. Col. Stanley Bell, one of the heads of E.N.S.A at the Drury Lane Theatre, generously loaned him the elaborate costumes and props and the final result was a spectacular and topical revue which was an outstanding success. Confident that he had worthily shown the authorities what to expect from him, Tony awaited his new posting with great pleasure. But what a surprise was in store! He found himself attached to Combined Operations as one of two officers in charge of a small unit of some 24 men specialising in dangerous communication work. An intensive course of unarmed combat, beach landings under fire, etc., at the Combined Ops. Training Camp in Scotland followed, and in due course Tony and his fellow officers were given the full picture of the proposed invasion and the information that of the 4 identical units the Air Ministry did not expect more than one to survive! The invasion was of Sicily! Fortunately for everybody’s sake nothing went according to plan and the enemy attacks and dive bombings were so mild in comparison to what the men had been expecting that they were treated as jokes! Now out of a joke, Tony Kilshawe pestered his senior officers so much that he was finally posted to a famous Group H.Q. which had just completed a vigorous campaign in the North African desert. Based in a palace in Catania, Kilshawe gradually assumed control of the of the entertainment and welfare of all R.A.F. troops in Sicily and the toe of Italy, when the transportation of a mobile cinema to 6 men in an isolated radar station in the mountains was of as much importance as the production of a revue at one of the town’s main theatres. In the larger towns in the island some form of entertainment was being given every night, and all tastes were catered for. Around this time the troops were becoming bored with the sameness of the visiting E.N.S.A. parties and Kilshawe conceived theh daring plan of putting on a modern farce with himself in the lead and with 2 men playing the women’s parts. After 2 or 3 weeks of discreet enquiries, he discovered 2 army privates who had been in show business and who possessed the necessary looks. Getting them seconded to his unit, rehearsals were started, dresses designed and made and the scenery built, and in due course the opening night in the unit’s own theatre arrived. At the rise of the curtain, Tony awaited the entrance of the first girl with many misgivings, but, fortunately, after the usual whistles and catcalls of approval the play settled down and was uproariously received. For the rest of the week they played to capacity, and so impressed were E.N.S.A. that the company were invited to present the play at the large San Giorgio Theatre. A successful tour of the island was also made.

Cast of One Wild Oat

A year later the H.Q. moved into Italy and Tony now found himself responsible for the welfare of units as far apart as Romania and Sardinia. Mobilel cinemas, dance bands and revues were constantly being sent on the road but plays were always the great attraction. A young amateur actress working for the Y.M.C.A. was now attached to the drama company so the delightful comedy-thriller, Someone at the Door, was put into production with Tony playing the principal part once again. This play was also a great success and demands for it became so numerous that the R.A.F. finally agreed to the company presenting it to any of the Armed Services and the Americans. No request was ever refused, though complications sometimes arose. On one occasion it was agreed to do the play for a large Army unit stationed in the mountains east of Naples. It was a very dark and very wet night and the driver of the 3-tonner carrying the cast lost its way and it was nearly 9:30pm when they finally drove along the deserted main street of the town, searching for the theatre. Everybody was very depressed for they felt sure the troops would have returned to the camp pin disgust. But not a bit of it. The theatre was packed and everybody present was in great spirits. The corporal in charge of the scenery, which had gone on ahead early in the morning, was a very competent jazz pianist and he had entertained them wonderfully well. And what a reception the men gave the cast! One of the most important productions the one given to the Very Senior Officers of the Allied Forces, in ex-King Vitorio’s private theatre in the Caserta Palace. One of the most bewildering perhaps, was when after a very successful one night stand at Sorrento, Tony was asked to give a further show a few weeks later. The theatre was comfortably filled but the cast were completely put off their stride when no laughs were forthcoming and everybody out front was so silent. They were even more mystified when at the end of the first act they were greeted with great applause. The cast learned eventually that the entire audience had been Greek royalists! After his demobilisation in the summer of 1946, Tony Kilshawe quickly got back into the theatrical run of things, and after 1 or 2 parts in unsuccessful try-outs of new plays, the end of the year found him rehearsing the comedy part in a new thriller with Bruce Belfrage. A pre-West End tour opened early in 1947 and the play received excellent notices. Unfortunately, the awful conditions in February and March put an end to all hopes of the play reaching London. After a succession of parts in 2nd feature films, a short but happy season at one of London’s smaller theatres, and a successful spell as the producer of a new London repertory company, Tony was offered the Robertson (Bunny) Hare part in the tour of the farce One Wild Oat.

Cast of One Wild Oat

The tour was an enormous success and records were broken at several theatres. When the long tour ended and the play became available to the repertory companies, he was invited to appear as guest-star by several of them. The tour of Will Any Gentleman?, with Tony again playing Bunny Hare’s part which subsequently followed, was perhaps an even greater success. Incidentally, Will Any Gentleman? is the next production of the St. George’s Church Drama Guild. With the ending of the farce, Wild Horses at the Aldwych Theatre (a farce which had brought the evergreen Ralph Lynn back to the West End and reunited him with Robertson Hare), the partnership was temporarily dissolved for Bunny was required to go abroad on film location. Again, Tony Kilshawe was asked by Ralph Lynn to take over Bunny’s part and a very happy association it proved to be. Although he has found it very difficult at times to avoid being type-cast, Tony Kilshawe is, nevertheless, delighted to have had the chance to play these parts, which have given him such pleasure. They also gave him the great joy of making friends with Bunny Hare, one of the most charming men in show business, and Ralph Lynn, one of the greatest farce actors of all times, from whom he had learned so much.

Cast of One Wild Oat

Festival Play up to Standard

Third in the series of plays for Deal’s 8-week Drama Festival, Vernon Sylvaine’s One Wild Oat provided the St. George’s Church Drama Guild with plenty of opportunity to keep up to the high standard attained by the previous two productions.
The 3-act farce gave each character scope to show his or her worth, and there were some remarkably efficient and professional touches; no doubt much of the success of the production was due to the efforts of the London producer Tony Kilshawe, who apart from directing the play took one of the leading parts. The set was not an unusual one for amateur dramatics, just the living rooms of two flats in the same building. But careful thought made the rooms look really lived in, and when, after the 1st act, the change-over to the 2nd room came, there really was a change. Tony Kilshawe took the part of a prim solicitor with the unlikely name of Humphrey Proudfoot and injected into the part a large amount of enthusiasm and feeling which seemed to overflow to the rest of the cast. Proudfoot, during his long and inconspicuous career, had once had dealings with a shady greyhound financier, Alfred Gilbey, and so when his daughter, Cherrie, arrives home after 2 am, he is shocked to find that she has spent the evening with Gilbey’s son, Fred. The argument starts when Gilbey comes down to Proudfoot’s flat after a disastrous telephone call. Gilbey is played by Ronald Latham, who was ideally suited to the part – quite a demanding one. In his gaudy dressing gown, he could not have looked more like a greyhound man disturbed by his slumbers. The daughter was played by Pamela Rye and Gilbey junior by David Hanraty. Both gave competent if not polished portrayals. Solicitor’s wife Caroline was ably represented by Molly Fitzgerald who has always impressed in her previous appearances with the St. George’s Church Drama Guild. No less pleasing was the portrayal of the greyhound man’s wife by another well-known member of the group, Doris Cohen. The play gave excellent opportunity for Conrad Sherwin – normally busy behind the scenes – to show what he could do on the stage. His parts were small ones, those of an insignificant private investigator and a timid husband, but in my opinion they provided some of the funniest scenes in what was an extremely amusing production. Much of the credit for the excellent evening’s entertainment must go to those we did not see – the lighting and effects were provided by Robin Varney; the prompter - who unfortunately had to make her presence felt and heard on one or two occasions – was Dorrie Sherwin; and a commendable job was done in the way of make‑up and costumes by Joyce Jewson. One Wild Oat took place at The Astor Theatre on Thursday, Friday and Saturday of last week, and will be presented again for 3 days starting tonight. Among those who took part were Mollie Bryce, Ronald Spencer, Andrew Lawson, Anne Varney and Clare Bradshaw.

M.B.B.

Production Team

Production Team

Director Tony Kilshawe
Stage Director Conrad Sherwin
Set & Décor Ronald Spencer, Andrew Lawson, Conrad Sherwin & Tony Kilshawe
Lighting & Effects Robin Varney
Prompt Dorrie Sherwin
Props Mollie Boyce & Gregory Holyoake
Make-Up & Wardrobe Joyce Jewson, Vera Eckersley & Elsie Lawson
Front of House Deal Corporation & Guild Players Members

Cast of One Wild OatCast of One Wild Oat