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in Northampton since 1932

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How Steeple Sinderby Wanderers
Won the FA Cup
by J.L. Carr, dramatised by Brian Wright

Cast & Crew

Old Gidner Les Necus
Young Gidner David Hanly
Miss Billison
Pat Bancroft
Arthur Fangfoss
Andrew Wilson
Mrs Fangfoss
1 Rebekah Robinson
Mrs Fangoss 2
Hannah Collier
Dr Kossuth
Tim Page
Mrs Kossuth
Alex Rex
Alex Slingsby
Elliot Bannister
Alanna Kitson
Mr Croser
Martin Borley-Cox
Revd Giles Montagu
Peter Robinson
Biddy Montagu
Jeni Mulchrone
Ginchy Trigger
Olivia Galliano
Edward Toone
Maisie Twemlow
Charlotte Wilson-Slight
Jim Bleasby
Roger Toone
Mr Dadds
Brian Wright
Percy Billison
Richard Jordan
Mr Tate
Nick Easton
Mr Cory
George Attwell-Gerhards
Postman Jack Liggins
Monkey Tonks
Kit Brown
Indianna Mann
Rachel Halstead
PC Rigg
Daniel Sanders
Inspector Cross Edward Russell
School Inspector
Tom Wood
Tom Warcaba-Wood
Amy Whitestone
Ethan Monk
Anton Millett
Oliver Millett
Adam Monk
Simon Jack
William Cheyne
Euan Kitson
Chris Wilson-Slight
Sid Swift
Tom Morath
Mrs Swift
Kate Corrie
Daily Mirror reporter
George Attwell-Gerhards
Daily Telegraph reporter
Nitish Shah
The Times reporter
Verity Johnson
Daily Sketch reporter
Max McLean
Football Manager 1, 2, 3 & 4
Tom Wood
Tony Bellman
Euan Kitson
Maud McCutcheon
Maisie’s Gang members
Hannah Banks, Harriet Clarke, Alice Fitt, Imogen Fitt, Anisha Sood, Annie Warren
Rival Gang members
Bekki George, Indianna Mann, Maud McCutcheon, Phoolna Shah, Tom Warcaba-Wood, Amy Whitestone
Padraig Condron
Ethan Monk
Rival Team players
Andrew Clarke, Jack Liggins, Max McLean, Adam Monk, Tristan Wrighton
Kay Warcaba
All other parts played by the company

Director Ursula Wright
Assistant director
Brian Wright
Martin J Parker
Musical Director
Kay Warcaba
Stage Manager
Kate Corrie
Assistant Stage Manager
Lucy Payne
Wardrobe Mistress
Judy Robinson
Wardrobe assistants
Margaret George, Rhiannon George, Dorothy Granger, Marilyn Hanly, Hilary Hodge, Ulla Millett, Lucy Payne, Dolores Sanders, Pam Stock
Lighting & sound
Nic Munday
Matthew Robinson
Box Office
Dolores Sanders, Sarah Hutchings, Ursula Wright
Poster Design
Roz Inett, Tamsyn Payne
Programme Design
Martin Borley-Cox
Screen Captions
Peter Robinson
Front of House & refreshments
Tim & Maggie Munday
and Masque Youth Theatre parents

The Steeple Sinderby players

Production No. 371

More images from Steeple Sinderby


Ursula Wright, director

As a title it’s pretty self-explanatory:  it does what it says on the tin, so to speak. It’s also unusually long for a title, and people tend to smile in disbelief when you answer their question “so what play are you doing at the moment?”   But there’s a lot more to J.L. Carr’s wonderful comic fantasy, and our dramatisation of it, than eleven blokes and a ball.

To begin with, there are the eccentric characters who populate Steeple Sinderby (an imaginary village in East Northamptonshire, but in reality based on South Milford in Yorkshire, where J.L. Carr worked in 1930 as an unqualified teacher and played one triumphant season in the village football team).  Then there are the devastating swipes at bureaucracy, the English educational system, so-called television celebrities and the Press (whose use and misuse of the English language is wonderfully parodied).    It is a particularly touching love-story.  And perhaps above all it is a celebration of the underdog, of the overlooked and the dispossessed.

In 1996, two years after J.L. Carr’s death, his son Bob gave permission for Brian Wright to write a dramatisation which I directed at The Ferrers School (now specialist Arts College) in 1997.  Brian has revised this, again with Bob Carr’s kind permission, specifically for Masque Youth Theatre, who have co-opted a few “seniors” to play some of the roles (reversing the usual situation, where Youth Theatre members can audition for younger parts in adult Masque productions!)

Performed on and in front of a scaffolding terrace, by a cast of nearly sixty, with football wittily transformed into dance by our talented choreographer, songs you know (but lyrics fit for purpose), live musical accompaniment from Kay Warcaba, and the high standard of acting and ensemble work for which Masque Youth Theatre is known, this production is not to be missed.   Les Necus and Pat Bancroft play Old Gidner and Miss Billison, the two inhabitants of Steeple Sinderby who were there in “that golden glory year” and who preside over the re-enactment of events.   Tim Page re-creates the role of Dr. Kossuth (which he first played as a Ferrers student in 1997), Edward Toone is the loyal groundsman Corporal and Kate Corrie combines stage management with an appearance as Mrs. Swift.  Martin Borley-Cox, Roger Toone and Brian Wright play Steeple Sinderby residents, and Richard Jordan (more usually seen in demanding major roles) gives a memorable cameo performance as the village drunk Percy Billison. 

As for the youth theatre performers, there are too many to mention and all are important, whether it be the experienced actors that you saw taking leading roles in Hiawatha/Warpaint and previous productions, or newcomers who are making their mark in this multi-talented company.    They are the future of Masque Theatre, and of the arts in Northampton.    We hope you will support and encourage them by coming to see Steeple Sinderby (I did say it was a very long title!)

Wed 14 - Sat 17 April 2010 at 7.30pm (also 2.30pm on Sat 17)
Main Hall, University of Northampton, St George's Avenue, Northampton

Page last updated: 17/04/2012 Masque Theatre © 2012

by Jane Lanchbury

Before seeing the play I knew little of J.L. Carr and nothing at all about the novel from which Brian Wright adapted the play.

The entire hall became the setting for the play, with a scaffolding terrace opposite the raked audience seating to represent two football stands, and the floor in between to represent the pitch and various other locations.

The terrific energy and enthusiasm was more than matched by the audience’s emotional engagement with a superb cast, whose collective and individual performances dovetailed beautifully.

There were so many memorable moments.  The movement of passengers on the bus as they mirrored the swerving of the driver’s body when he steered around the corners:  the nonchalance of the bus driver beautifully perceived.  And who will forget the creative choreography of The Beautiful Game with its echoes of Billy Elliott, the discipline of movement conveying utter involvement from all members of the team.  The freeze frame excelled.

The singing throughout was most effective, totally natural and characterful, with every moment pitched at exactly the right level.  Moments of poignancy were never milked but achieved pathos in their simplicity of expression.

With such an ensemble piece it is extremely difficult to single out individual performances but characters such as the landowner Fangfoss, the press correspondents, the vicar  and the refugee Hungarian Dr. Kossuth were so thoroughly expressed as to create vivid impressions of individuals of different backgrounds and experiences in real life.  This heart-warming journey from an East Midlands village to F.A. Cup success - set in that more peaceful, less insidious Britain of the 50s with its sense of community and optimism - was a joy, the mood from our arrival to a welcoming reception even before the drama unfolded being one of uplifting involvement.  

Including older Masque members in the cast provided masterclasses in characterisation and added a further dimension to the production, as did the music from Kay Warcaba.   The total theatre aspect, the amalgamation of dance, dialogue, music and song made it an all-encompassing experience.

We know that under Ursula the direction is in skilful hands and this was perfectly paced and creatively conceived.  It was such a pleasurable evening – we all left the theatre smiling, and humming familiar melodies from the past.  Congratulations to everyone involved in whatever capacity.  

Let’s hope we can use this venue again.

We were told by a friend who attended on the Saturday evening that they were warned that the central heating in the hall was set very high.  So absorbed were they in the production, they never noticed the heat!


by Sam Parish

Often in reviews one is hesitant to use such old phrases as ‘wit and charm’, however, this reviewer cannot but help himself as he found both in ready supply during Masque Youth Theatre’s performance of How Steeple Sinderby Wanderers Won the FA Cup directed by Ursula Wright.

It’s the 1950s, a far different time and a far different Britain. A time before rock and roll, when milk was delivered by hand door to door and the post came three times a day. It is to this time we are transported back, to relive and celebrate a small country village’s dream of sporting glory; and the tale of how the local football club managed to achieve it - thanks to some hard work, dedication and the local headmaster’s “blueprint for winning” (a carefully observed set of “postulations”- rules and strategies designed to turn even the lowliest team into FA Cup champions). Along the way we are introduced to a cast of classic village characters - from the vicar to the town drunk-each one carrying the audience along in this delightful tale of community spirit and love for sports’ most beautiful game, plus a selection of songs set to classic tunes and dance routines choreographed by Martin J Parker of XL Danceworks, set to the wonderful old sounds of Bix Beiderbecke and Ken Collyer.

From start to finish the show is filled with a gentle nostalgia, a fondness for the simplicity and spirit of a time gone by. Many times we are reminded that most people see the events of that year as an ‘urban legend’ or a ‘fairytale’ and indeed, we are often presented with a story that features the spirit and heart of a classic fairytale; one of determination against all the odds and love, both for the people of the village and for the game that brings them together. All wrapped up in the gentle humour of Dramatist Brian Wright’s script.

The highlight of the show, for this reviewer, was the dance routines-each one presenting the grace and poetry of football in motion, alongside a strong helping of wit, panache and delightful simplicity. Massive applause must go out to each and every one of the young performers who gave each piece a great sense of smoothness and fluidity. They showed an easy, almost effortless grace at times-an exceedingly polished performance all round. Hats off to them and their choreographer for bringing this to the pieces, despite (on the most part), no prior dance experience. They are to be commended for their enthusiasm, their energy and their gusto.

A special mention must also be made of dancers Ethan Monk and Andrew Clarke for their work and their performances. Ethan filled each part of his performance with terrific energy and verve, showing a brightness and enthusiasm that this reviewer cannot help but think will pay off with real leading man potential in his future. And the same must be said of Clarke who, with no dance experience, joined the company late in its development and managed to display a level of quality and effort in his performance (both on and off stage, fulfilling the role of Dance Captain with admirable ability and dedication) that was truly excellent-the boy is a natural talent.

Outside the dances there were truly fine performances from top to bottom of the cast, giving their audience a marvellous assortment of entertaining and endearing characters. Also, much like the people of Steeple Sinderby, there was a genuine sense of cohesion and community within the cast. Their comfort and confidence with each other shone through the evening’s proceedings.

In conclusion, for audiences wishing for an evening of fun, family entertainment this reviewer found plenty to discover on his trip to Steeple Sinderby, a place that scored a hat trick of charm, wit and energy and a sheer unbridled love of the beautiful game. For this year’s MYT production Steeple Sinderby hits the back of the net.

A scene from How Steeple Sinderby Wanderers Won the4 FA Cup