Out of any congenial discussion is the possibility of concrete proposals and so it seems the case with the M & D Little Theatre.
George Pittendrigh and Toby Rudolf, teachers at the High School and enthusiastic members of the Society were yarning over a few beers after rehearsals and decided the M & D needed their own place to rehearse, even though the bank balance showed a 16 Pounds deficit. It wasn’t long before Council was approached to build a clubhouse for the Society, little did Council know the clubhouse was to be a fully blown theatre, or so the story goes !!!
Such a project required finance to progress, so the Society embarked on a hectic program of performances over the next three years, to raise funds for the building. George and Toby were joined by regular members, amongst them being Peter Ailwood, Joan Tucker, Nora Sivyer and Ken Brokenshire , together they staged four or five one act plays under the title of A Night at the Theatre. These evenings had a great selection of local identities in the plays, many acting in one while directing another, the patrons loved it as they got great value for the evening. It was in a revue called Bits and Pieces that Max Phipps first appeared and of course he went on to stardom in stage and screen after he left Parkes. Musicals also played a big part in the Society, with the first being The Desert Song in collaboration with the Methodist Choir, led by Ron Watts, Rene Pearson and Jack Scoble who was a long serving Mayor of Parkes, appearing in many musicals including Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. The Society then staged Vagabond King and The Chocolate Soldier over the next two years with Nora Sivyer as musical director. The M & D fundraising was now in full swing, under the watchfull eye of Secretary/ Treasurer Joan Tucker.
Then in 1954 Council offered the Society an old miners cottage, on a 45’x90’ block of land, on the north eastern side of the Olympic Pool and the President at the time, Des Maguire, a solicitor, concluded the deal on behalf of the Society. Incidently, his wife Marie, together with Pat Mitchell and Betty Cole, had lead singing roles in The Chocolate Soldier and many other productions.
Members with the assistance of the Apex Club, demolished the old building, clearing the site for the new structure and cleaning bricks to be used in the construction. The Chamber of Commerce, keen to see the Society progress, promised to donate the materials for the foundations while the many building trade members of the Apex Club offered labour support with the construction, so on the 30 May 1955 the foundation pouring started.
Next issue will have the building nearly completed with the Society providing entertainment right up to the official opening.