Quality Street

AUDITIONS NOTICE

Quality Street by J.M Barrie

Please read carefully all the details, in particular rehearsal dates. Please do not audition if you have significant clashes with the rehearsal or performance period. If you are unsure whether unavailability will be an issue please check first by emailing jez.pike@maddermarket.org

Director: Jez Pike     Production Dates:  20th-28th July (matinees on 21st & 28th)

Rehearsal Dates:  Read-through the week of the 4th June. Rehearsals begin week of the 11th June. 4-5 rehearsals a week. Mostly weekday evenings, though likely to include some Sunday mornings.

Audition Dates: 

1st round:

Option A: Tuesday 27th March (6-9.30pm)

Option B:  Wednesday 4th April (6-9.30pm)

Option C: Thursday 5th April (6-9.30pm)

2nd round

Option A: Sat 7th April (2-5pm)

Option B: Sun 8th April (10.30am-1.30pm)

Please note all auditionees for the first round must in principle be also able to attend a recall date.

If you are absolutely not able to make an audition date but want to be seen please still email jez.pike@maddermarket.org

How to sign-up:This can be done either via email or by coming into the theatre office.

Coming in to the theatre: Sign-up on the sheet specifying which part you would like to be considered for. Choose your preferred first round audition date, and then you will be contacted with an allotted time slot. Extracts to prepare for each part can be collected from the office. A reading copy of the play will also be available.

By email: Email jez.pike@maddermarket.org specifying all of the following information: ‘Name’ ‘Phone number’ ‘Email address’ ‘Which part you would like to audition for’ and ‘Preferred first round audition date’. Please also specify whether you would like to be emailed a scanned copy of the relevant extract and/or the script. If you don’t specify these requests in your emailed it will be assumed you are collecting hard copies from the office. 

Format of auditions: Extracts provided in advance. First round will consist of one-to-one reading with the director. Recalls will consist of reading extracts in pairs or small groups. All sessions will last approximately 20 minutes. Please be familiar enough with the extracts to be able to have your head out of the script but flexible enough to take direction. You do not have to learn the extracts.

About the Play

A play so irresistible they named chocolates after it! Quality Street, by Peter Pan creator J.M.Barrie, was a theatrical phenomenon in its day. It opened on Broadway in 1901, before transferring to the West End, where it ran for a then record-breaking 459 performances. It was so popular, that when confectioner Mackintosh’s were looking for a name for their new range of chocolates, they decided to directly reference the play. The original packaging featuring drawings of characters from the story. Quality Street has twice been made into a film, the latter of which, released in 1937 starred Katherine Hepburn. The play is a romantic comedy, complete with dashing suitors, heroines, gossip, plenty of fan quivering and a deliciously daft plot including mistaken identity and disguise.

It is the era of the Napoleonic Wars. Safe at home, in quaint Quality Street, live sisters Miss Phoebe Throssell and Miss Susan Throssell, surrounded by gossipy friends and a rather too blunt maid. Phoebe has an admirer; the witty Valentine Brown. Only neither Phoebe nor Valentine can bring themselves to admit it, and the conventions of the time make it difficult to ascertain each other’s intentions.

When Valentine reveals he has some important news to tell, both Phoebe and her elder sister Susan are sure that a proposal is imminent. Only it is not. In fact, Valentine is to enlist and go off to war. The sisters are devastated, though of course can’t outwardly show their disappointment. To make matters worse, Valentine leaves believing some financial advice he imparted has left his quaint friends in a fine position, when in fact it has actually left them close to ruin. The sisters of course can’t bring themselves to put Valentine in such an embarrassing position, and so say nothing.

Act 2 jumps forward to shortly after the Battle of Waterloo. The two sisters have been forced to run a school from their now dowdy home, a venture for which they are entirely unsuited. Phoebe, always known for her girlish ringlets and pretty complexion has ‘donned a cap’ and condemned herself to spinsterhood. Valentine returns, even more a gallant than before, but in a moment of unguarded behaviour expresses shock at the change in Phoebe’s appearance.

Alone again, Phoebe transforms herself back into her life-loving self and reveals her ‘aged’ appearance only to be an assumed mask with which she faces a life without love. When circumstances dictate Valentine sees her without her mask, Phoebe, in a moment of spontaneous pique assumes the fictionalised persona of ‘Miss Livvy’, an invented cousin. Not surprisingly Valentine quickly falls for ‘Miss Livvy’ and begins to woo her. Before long Phoebe and Susan are desperately trying to keep the pretence going, trapped in an ever increasing puzzle of deceit; both from Valentine and their nosy friends.

Eventually of course, it all turns out for the best. Valentine tires of the conceited behaviour of ‘Miss Livvy’ and admits his longing for the truthful purity of his old friend Miss Phoebe. Phoebe admits all, Valentine behaves gallantly, the sisters fortunes are restored and the local gossips are still none the wiser as to the identity of the cousin who mysteriously vanished.  

The play is a light-footed charming comedy with tender characterisation and strong female voices. It feel’s surprisingly modern in style and pace and contains the kind of mistaken-identity-antics you might find in Shakespeare. The world is similar to that of Jane Austen and the wit on par with Oscar Wilde.

Cast Breakdown:

The production actively encourages actors from all ethnic backgrounds to audition.

Some smaller parts may be doubled-up subject to casting process.

Female Roles

MAJOR FEMALE ROLES

F1: PHOEBE THROSSEL [Playing age 20’s] The lead character. Famous throughout Quality Street for her ringlets (wig can be provided), Phoebe is bright, capable and kind with a passionate spirit that breaks out through her alter-ego ‘Miss Livvy’, who displays a sharper, more independent side. She has no doubt had many admirers, yet her general lack of conceit and loyalty to her older sister and their quaint existence, means that with time ticking she is without a gentleman at the start of the play. If only the delightfully witty Valentine Brown would propose or etiquette would allow her to say how she feels?

F2: SUSAN THROSSEL. [Playing age 30’s] Elder sister of Phoebe. Though less likely to be courted by a dashing suitor than her eye-catching younger sister, Susan isn’t in the least bit resentful. Good natured, quaint, thoroughly loyal and easily terrified by boisterous school children and algebra. She proves herself an able if frequently flustered accomplice in Phoebe’s alter-ego shenanigans. 

MEDIUM FEMALE ROLES

F3-F4 MISS FANNY & MISS HENRIETTA TURNBULL [Playing ages 20's-30's] Friends of the Throssell sisters, they are insatiable gossips and love nothing better than to drop in to share the latest tit-bits about gallant soldiers and who of note is attending the next ball. Since their own lives contain no romance, they feed hungrily off the scraps of others, notably the most eligible Phoebe. With her mysterious sister Miss Livvy arrives and events become a little out of the ordinary, they can barely contain their excitement.

F5 MISS WILLOUGHBY. [Playing age 30-40's] Friend of the Throssell sisters and gossip in chief. She is a self confessed 'old maid' and loves nothing more than poking her nose in other people's business whilst at the same time cultivating a pompous air of respectability. Ultimately good-natured, but bossy and occasionally blunt

F6: PATTY [30’s]

The Throssell sisters maid. A nice recurring cameo, Patty is far from an ideally subservient servant. She is blunt, occasionally sarcastic and thoroughly enjoys expressing her opinion on the goings-on in Quality Street,

SMALL FEMALE ROLES

F7-8: CHARLOTTE PARRATT & HARRIET [Playing age 20’s]

Young ladies of Quality Street who frequent the much anticipated balls on the hunt for dashing soldiers returning from Waterloo. Both are a little pushier than Phoebe and their sense of competitiveness is thinly veiled. Charlotte is initially with Ensign Blades until he abandons her in pursuit of Miss Livvy, and Harriet hangs around the dance floor awkwardly trying to attract the eye of a young suitor.

Male Roles

MAJOR MALE ROLE

M1: VALENTINE BROWN [Playing age 30’s] A thoroughly witty and delightful chap, who feels and shows great affection for the quaint Throssell sisters. Though such a catch in so many ways, he is perhaps also a little slow when it comes to emotional intuition. He somehow entirely misses the fact that Phoebe (and half of Quality Street) expects him to propose to her, and utterly fails to see the hurt he causes when he declares that he is leaving Quality Street to serve King and country. On his return, though initially bowled over by the newly arrived ‘Miss Livvy’ he eventually comes to realise his shallowness and pines for the gentler, nobler qualities of Miss Phoebe. When all secrets come out, he is a thoroughly good sport and helps the two sisters to concoct an ingenious ruse to rid themselves of their unwanted ‘cousin’.

MEDIUM MALE ROLES

M2: ENSIGN BLADES [Playing age 20’s] A young officer, once of Miss Phoebe’s and Miss Susan’s school and now grown up and thoroughly full of himself. He is fairly young-looking for his age, a subject of some embarrassment, and this only heightens his callow air. For all his self-importance and occasional sneering, he turns out to be rather highly-strung when passions run high at the ball.

M3: RECRUITING SERGEANT [Playing age 40-50’s] Rogue-ish recruiting sergeant who is full of easy charm and regarded as thoroughly disagreeable by respectable ladies. Though not essential, the part is written as Irish, and ideally actor would be able to commit to this accent. Scots or Welsh might also be an option.

M4: SPICER [Playing age 20’s] A rather queer and earnest young fellow who joins the throngs of those wishing to attract the attentions of Miss Livvy. He does so in a disarmingly honest way – openly admitting to Miss Susan that he hangs on her arm all evening only so that Miss Livvy, whom holds her in such affection, thinks fondly of him. He speaks with excessive complexity, e.g. ‘Indeed, I cannot be cognisant of the sufferings I cause by attaching myself to you in this unseemly manner’ and carries with him a tragi-comic melancholy.

SMALL MALE ROLES

M5: A GALLANT [Playing age 20's-30's] A young solider, feeling thoroughly impressed with himself and looking to impress the ladies.

M6: AN OLD SOLDIER [Playing age 60+] An older soldier, still thoroughly impressed with himself and still believing he can impress the ladies.

CHILD ROLES

There are up to six small roles for children (mixed gender) between the approximate ages of 9 to 12. There will be a separate casting process for these roles, but if you know of anyone suitable please ask their parents to contact the director, jez.pike@maddermarket.org