Parkes Musical & Dramatic Society

Little Theatre - Big Entertainment

History Part 7 - Early 1960's

Pt7 Liz Matthewsby 1960 the Society was debt free and looking to improve and extend the theatre. Up to this time the theatre consisted of the auditorium, a flat floor with individual chairs facing the raised proscenium stage at the western end and if you sat towards the back it required a considerable agility to see the show. The public and members of the various organizations were asked to donate a chair, to help in providing the seating. The stage area was equipped with full width front curtain and backdrop, the only access from the stage was through to the props room which also doubled as the dressing room for the cast both male and female all in together. In the corner of this room perched high on a platform was the lighting operator, freezing in winter and roasting in summer. Jim Carr ably did this job during the early years and was later succeeded by Don McAlpine, who showed quite a talent for the job. Liz Matthews, alias Darlene Dawson, is in the props room preparing to appear in The Quest, note the unique locking system with one of the original chairs.


This first decade of plays, musicals, revues and festival had been very hectic with one production after another following in very quick succession, one of the most popular being Rookery Nook, a photo of the cast is included. Some members doubted so many could be done successfully, however a Society stalwart replied “She’ll be Right” which became the Society motto and was featured on a plaque attached to the centre of the proscenium arch, later lost during future renovations.Pt7 Photo2 Rookery Nook Cast 1955

So plans were drawn up by Bill Soeder with the help of Ken Brokenshire to add dressing rooms to the rear of the building. To finance the extension, Zillah Grinter directed Dear Charles, casting new members, Joan Coleman, Lindsay Easter and John Fox, then in August, Marie Maguire directed The Secret Tent. With little break the Society ran another Night of One Act Plays, featuring six plays, a mammoth task which included, The White Wedding, Thinking Aloud, The Crimson Coconut, Out in the Cold,Cold Snow, Postal Orders and In a Glass Darkly with directors Bob Waters, Pat Milthorpe, John Fox, Lindsay Easter, Joan Tucker and Muriel Box, while at the end of the year Ziller Grinter and Pat Milthorpe wrote a Revue, TV or not TV, compared by Leo White, a light hearted romp to finish the year.

1961 was just as busy, firstly with the Society entry in the Festival of One Act Plays in Mudgee, which wasn’t successful, then the staging of the Howards Talent Quest later in the year. Kay McLachlan directed Book of the Month, followed by the regular Night of One Act Plays and finally, the revue, Too Many Cooks, a collaboration by Pat Milthorpe, Ziller Grinter and Rex Jones. However the highlight of the year was the musical production of Oklahoma, staged in the Orange Hall, directed by Marie Maguire and Bill Hartley who also took the leading roles.

In 1962 the Society was on a roll with the first play The Good Young Man directed by Ziller Grinter in February with first appearances for Col Fletcher and Anne Grant. In April, Kay McLachlan directed The Prodigal which was an entry in the Country Drama Festival, adjudicated by Ms Olive Walter, this play had new comers Gillian Auhl, Tony Crowley and Russel Swinden. The bright musical Salad Days was the first to be staged in the Little Theatre, directed by Ziller Grinter and music provided with piano and drums directed by Joan Tucker, new faces included Mary Pearce, Janet Grady, Vanessa Arndel and Dawn Boatswain.

With the dressing rooms being hurriedly completed, Parkes hosted CW One Act Play in September 1962, but more on that next issue.

Parkes M&D Facebook Page