Parkes Musical & Dramatic Society

Little Theatre - Big Entertainment

History Part 6 - Life in the new Theatre

Pt5 Photo2 Theatre Construction EntranceAt the end of 1957 the Little Theatre was really very basic and unfinished as the Bogan Street side of the Theatre was a temporary fibro wall set back some distance to allow for future extension. The entrance was a set of wooden steps rising to a porch in front of two wide doors which led into the theatre, a not very efficient sound barrier to outside traffic, especially if a truckie parked a load of pigs outside while he had a quickie at the local pub. Another problem was the winter chill, as the doors really let the cold draughts in and at this stage with no heating, overcoats, scarves and warm socks were a necessity. One of our members, Lorraine Bond, an art teacher, painted a colourful pattern of squares on the temporary wall which lasted till the theatre was upgraded in 2000. Lorraine incidently married Bill Soeder, another member of the Society. Also included in the main structure was a small vestibule entrance on the car park side with a basic kitchen adjoining, allowing supper to be provided there or through a servery to the main theatre. Attached to the back of the kitchen were the toilets, used by both the cast and patrons which created a bit of a culture shock for the visitors to be confronted by cast members in full costume having a nervous before going on stage.

From the opening in ’57 through to 1960, the Society, , mainly produced 3 act plays in the theatre, such as Shop at Sly Corner, produced by John Worgan, You can’t take it with You, produced by Marie Maguire and Bell Book and Candle, produced by Zillah Grinter. Apart from the regular actors, other locals to appear were Bill Hartley, Bob Waters, Beryl Weaver, John Bass, Joy Eggeling, Peter Ailwood, Linda Nettlebeck and Barton Prior. Nora Sivyer put together songs and sketches in a revue, Around the Square with the title song being composed by Norm Stenning who with Gordon Schofield and Ted Clarke played backing music for many of the shows.

Pt6 Photo1 John BassPt6 Photo2 Linda Nettleback nee McGlynn

Pt6 Photo3 Pete Allwood

Pt6 Photo4 Beryl WeaverDue to the small stage at the Little Theatre, musicals such as The Merry Widow and The Gypsy Baron were still staged at

the Orange Hall. Merry Widow was produced by the team of Zillah Grinter and Norah Sivyer with leads, Marie Maguire, Bob Waters, Ken Brokenshire and Betty Cole. The Gypsy Baron was produced by Bob Waters with Mrs C (Molly) Hockey as Musical Director, starring Marie Maguire, Ken Brokenshire, Bill Hatley, Bill Soeder, Betty Cole, John Bass and Pat Mitchell. Performing these musicals in an isolated venue such as the Orange Hall took a great deal of effort for the back stage crew headed by Tom Cole with Des Maguire, John Worgan and Bruce Mitchell assisting. They not only constructed the sets but had to transport them to the hall and erect them for the various scenes. Lorraine Soeder with Elizabeth Hood were expert at painting and decorating the sets.

The Society membership was usually a family affair with many husband and wife teams combining acting with backstage or front of house duties and so it has been ever since with many couples joining in, being part of the acting community.

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