After the initial impetus from the Rotary Talent Quest and the Society’s success with the Mannequin Parade and Jubilee Drama Festival, Parkes members worked actively with the Forbes Society in their production of the Gondoliers under the direction of Mary Davis which was staged in both towns. This co-operation helped in building up the confidence and experience of the local members many of whom were novices in stage appearances. In the first few years, the Methodist Choir, under the direction of Ron Watts, produced quite a number of Gilbert & Sullivan musicals that allowed members to participate. Stan Kingham remembers those years when father Frank and sister Lila were involved with both groups, singers such as Renee Pearson, Jack Scoble, Dot Murphy, Harold Jennings were prominent in most productions, ably supported by the Parkes Orchestra. Cheryl, another member of the Kingham family, joined with Stan, as staunch members over many years.
In those first two years, the Parkes Chamber of Commerce , Apex Club and Municipal Council, all supported the M & D for providing community entertainment, with one act plays, revues and musicals, which gave the new group a sound financial footing. Members were able to assist the CWA in 1952 by holding a musical evening when Lila, Win Mills and Jeanette McDonald, performed. Incidently Jeanette later married Don McAlpine also a member, who organized the lighting for the theatre and later became a world renowned cinematographer. These early days of the M & D were not without sadness as one of the foundation members, Lolita Gregory died in a plane crash along with her husband the pilot, their son, Leon, miraculously survived the crash.
The Parkes Society provided many romances, one was Lorna Kable and John Worgan both members who married. Lorna was at the first meeting and continued over many years until John her husband, a teacher, was transferred, she presented her scrap book to the Society on it’s silver anniversary. Betty Riley(nee Stafford), remembers those early years when George Pittendrigh was President and really stimulated the Society with his enthusiasm. Keith Harris, Nora Sivyer, Toby Rudolph, Joan Tucker and Ken Brokenshire all performed in one act plays and musicals at the Orange Hall(West’s). Betty said as well as taking part in regional competitions, members toured to Trundle, another thespian stronghold. At this time the membership contained a large contingent of teachers, a shifting population that brought new blood into the Society, plus trades people such as Jim Carr and Tom Cole who worked tirelessly back stage.
One of our life members, Kay McLachlan, who now lives in Condobolin, recalls her major production was The Prodigal which was taken to the Festival and received high praise from the adjudicator. Kay’s two sisters, were also keen members, Jill was a cadet journalist at the Champion Post while Pat was a French and English teacher. Kay remembers Pat directing a play called The Trapper which called for rain in the script, so the hose was sprayed on the roof, a bit different to the recent production of Singing in the Rain. Next time the history will cover the birth of the Little Theatre