Tributes paid to theatre company stalwart
WICK Theatre Company has lost one of its longest-standing members and most influential figures with the death of 81-year-old Jean Porter.
Born in Boston, Lincolnshire, Jean moved to Sussex in the early 1950s and went on to complete her training, taking her Guildhall drama exams at the Florence Moore Studio in Brighton.
She used this teaching qualification to further her interest in youth theatre and the development of young talent.
She joined Wick Theatre Company '“ then known as Young Wick '“ in 1955, making her debut at Southwick's Barn Theatre as Hulga in a December show called The Christmas Story.
Jean quickly established herself as a regular on the Barn stage, playing a string of leading roles to positive reviews.
She made her directing debut in October, 1956, with an acclaimed production of Pygmalion, in which she also had to step in to play the lead role of Eliza two weeks before the show owing to illness.
Wick press officer Rosemary Bouchy said: "In a neat connection with current-day Wick activity, Jean played the role of Joyce Harper in their 1957 production of The Happiest Days of Your Life, a show which Wick is reviving in June to mark the 50th anniversary of the original show."
Jean's highlights as a director included Gigi in 1966, My Fair Lady in 1976 and Amadeus in 1991.
Notable acting roles included the title role in Queen and the Rebels, Hannah in The Night of the Iguana, Amanda in Private Lives and Judith Bliss in an outrageous production of another Nol Coward piece, Hayfever.
Mrs Bouchy said: "Jean acted as an energetic honorary secretary of Wick for many years and had latterly been vice-president.
"She was always happy to offer help and advice when requested. Together with her husband George, she continued to welcome Wick members to her home for social events until ill-health prevented her."
Jean is survived by George, and her three children, Susanna, Richard and Charles.