As Long As They’re Happy
Venue : Woodrush High School
Date : November 1961
Genre : Farce
John E. Clarke
As long as they’re happy is a well-known excuse for tolerating juvenile tantrums and covers a multitude of youthful exuberances, not least of which is the idolisation of the adenoidal characters who whisper into microphones competing with each other in the hip parade.
Against this background, with a sly sardonic humour, Vernon Sylvaine has fashioned a popular farcical comedy in ‘As Long As They’re Happy,’ which had record sized audiences rocking in their seats in Woodrush School, Wythall, last Weekend.
Measured in these terms, Wythall Dramatic Society scored a resounding success and boosted their reputation for exuberant vitality and joi de vivre.
It was a straightforward , uncluttered production by Roger Booth, guesting for the society after a series of lessons, and he concentrated on getting the maximum effect from the knockabout comic aspect of the play, rather than on any subtlety of character or situation. It was wise move and showed its understanding as the opening sequence was rather wordy and tended to drag, but once it warmed up and the more vigorous frantic playing came into its own, the laughs followed freely.
The society have a find in Roger Mitchell, who played the crying crooner with a satirical yet delicate touch, really underlining the essentially, tongue in cheek attitude towards his fans of a shrewd performer.
He was a tower of strength in the show, which he kept ‘in the groove’. The infatuated teenage daughter of Estelle Shutkever was not always convincing, it was too lightweight and superficial too often and failed to convey the crazy infuriating confusion that goes on in young, romance-seeking girls.
By contrast, the kicking over the traces, ex-actress mother of Brenda Castle was far more in character and realistic in its interpretation, and the pompous smugness of the father, played by John Clarke, gave us and effective ‘difference’ providing the background for the household set in turmoil by the singer.
We had a breezy reporter in Bob Aldridge, a knowing psychiatrist fro Edward Pedvin, a rebellious married daughter in Celia Grant, and a pseudo beatnik from Gerald Smith as her husband.
Others contributions to the evening were Sarah Gardner the maid, Peggy Tomlin as a hostess, and Anne Johnson and Maurice Simpson as the hill billy daughter and son-in-law.
Unknown, Local Paper
All very gay, but…
The team that Wythall Dramatic Society brought together for “As Long as They’re Happy” comprised able players under R. Keith Booth’s direction. They made gay work of Vernon Sylvaine’s farcical comedy.
There was, however, room for some of the comedy to approach farce – particularly in the opening scenes.
Roger S. Mitchell made an outstanding job of his Crying Crooner role, playing in the exaggerated fashion that makes the most of this type of play’s opportunities.
Brenda Castle (Stella) and John E. Clarke (in his early stages as John) needed slightly more vivid touch to their parts. Edwin H. Pedvin (Schneider) could also have made a less matter of fact psychiatrist, but Estelle Shutkever played well as Gwen.
There’s a well-known song about daddy not buying “bow wows,” and while this story does not concern anyone else wishing to buy a canine companion, it does involve a dog making its debut on the stage, while its fellow thespians will be holding their breath hoping that it will remember all the cues and not fluff any entrances.
Susie is the name of the animal who is joining the humans in Wythall Dramatic Society tonight when the curtain rises on their Autumn show, Vernon Sylvaine's farce “As Long As They’re Happy.”
Susie, a smart corgi, belongs to Miss Linda Bell, who will be holding her breath when her pet makes her entrance.
Rehearsals, conducted by guest producer Roger Booth, are over and tonight the group hope for another success. The cast includes four new comers in Maurice Simpson, Bob Aldridge, Sadie Gardner and Roger Mitchell.
One thing is sure, there will be plenty of laughs and the group hope the verdict on it will be “a good show”.
Unknown, The Indicator