Charles Vernon

Jump to navigation Jump to search

Charles Vernon (19**-19**) Producer, stage and film actor.


Charles Vernon was born and educated in Scotland. He qualified for his Diploma of Speech and Drama at the Glasgow College of Drama and Glasgow University and did so well he was awarded an International Theatre Institute Fellowship to study for one year in the United States for his Master's Degree in Fine Arts at the University of Georgia.

He then won a second scholarship to study at the San Diego Shakespeare Festival where he played Mosca in Volpone, Romeo in Romeo and Juliet and Quince in A Midsummer Night's Dream.

He travelled to East Africa for two years and joined the Donovan Maule Players in Nairobi. While there he worked with stars like Sonia Dresdel.

While planning his next move from Nairobi to New Zealand he met June Levard, daughter of Philip D Levard, a well-known musical producer and showman. He married June and they moved south and started his South African career.

Contribution to SA theatre

In Johannesburg and Cape Town, he met producers such as Leonard Schach and ended up in Durban where he joined the Durban Lyric Theatre as artistic director.

While in Durban he produced two of his greatest successes – Lock Up Your Daughters and Friends and Neighbours.

Directed See How They Run for Ricky Arden Productions at the Alexander Theatre in 1960 and Mel Dinelli's The Man in 1963.

The reception to his production and performance in Friends and Neighbours was so good he staged it in Johannesburg and in Port Elizabeth.

During the Johannesburg run, he met Port Elizabeth's Harold Davidson, and soon after was asked to produce a musical for Pemads.

His first exceptional production for Pemads was The Trial of Mary Dugan, followed by The Magistrate, Signpost to Murder and Wild Goose Chase.

Then, finally, he was able to produce a musical – Eureka, and managed to obtain a one-in-a-million chance of getting a World Premier for Pemads who were the first backers for Eureka.

He co-starred with Gabrielle van der Riet, later known as Gaby Getz, Dolores Lynch and Rosemary Shorrock as “Belle’s girls”. Fred de Wit was Judge Henry Pretorius, Alan Williams played Fred Ponsonby, Harold Davidson as Hymie Schlossberg, Marie Robertson as Mama Schlossberg and John Fletcher as Willie the barman.

On the foundation laid by Percy Baneshik and Bertha Egnos the show has virtually been built from the ground up – and Charles Vernon has faith in [[Pemads] ability to present a first-class show.

Quoted from the programme of Hair Hair in 1970(??) wherein he played a role: 'Charles Vernon celebrates 10 years in South Africa this year, and his 5th show with Adam Leslie. Actor, director and writer, he has a wide experience of all entertainment media in the USA, Britain, and Africa, and won an International Theatre Institute fellowship to the US, and a further scholarship to Hawaii.'

'He has been acclaimed by the press as a brilliant farceur and one of the funnies men to appear on our stages. Past productions he will be remembered for are: In For a Penny, the musical revue he wrote with his wife, June; the quadruplet leading role in One For The Pot at the Academy Theatre; and the preceding show at this theatre, Strike It Richer. He has just completed writing the script and lyrics of a new musical about the Cape with music by Bertha Egnos of Dingaka fame, and finished one of the starring roles in a new comedy film, Stop Exchange. Charles was a show stopper as La Fleche in Mr. Skinflint.'


Eureka theatre programme. 1967.

Hair Hair programme notes, 19**.

Theatre programmes for Friends and Neighbours and The Man held by NELM: NELM Location: [Collection: KORT, Maurice]: 2012. 379. 13. 50; NELM Location: [Collection: KORT, Maurice]: 2012. 379. 34. 23.

Go to ESAT Bibliography

Return to

Return to ESAT Personalities V

Return to South African Theatre Personalities

Return to The ESAT Entries

Return to Main Page