With the departure of Ken Brokenshire to Forbes, Ron Smith became President for the next two years. As mentioned in a previous article Ron was the past president of Trundle Society where he had a chemist shop. Ron was a very good singer having trained in Sydney, so naturally his interests leaned towards musicals.
The profits from the various shows in the sixties enabled the Society to upgrade the theatre facilities with portable heaters, profile spots, security system and emergency lighting, the last item was to comply with the Public Halls Act. The portable heaters were later replaced with permanent gas heaters and the theatre finally got front stage curtains. A bold move to erect a flytower was found to be too expensive at 1200 pounds, however flats were constructed together with batten lights and dimmer units installed.
The earlier part of 1969 saw the production of “Lady Audley’s Secret” which was followed by Parkes Society’s entry in the CWDrama Festival, ”Shadow of a Kite”. To finish the year the Gilbert and Sullivan Operetta “HMS Pinafore” was staged, the first G & S for many years.
Bob Aitken, editor of the Champion Post, took the plunge and not only directed Pinafore but played the role of Dick Deadeye, claiming his extensive experience was gained while attending Parkes High. Needing extra men for the chorus, he put pressure on his cadet reporter, Roel ten Cate, to take part. Joan Tucker again assumed the task of musical director, while the leading parts were filled by the regulars except for Jenny Rue, from the banking fraternity, who sang delightfully in the” Pajama Game” and followed up with another good performance here. Peter Noonan, computer manager at the CWCC played the part of Sir Joseph Porter. Sadly Peter passed away at a very young age not long after his association with the Society. In the list of cast members, a couple of names are familiar, John Francis and Alun Gillies, long standing Parkes Identities.
In June 1970 the Society only had one production,” Arsenic and Old Lace,” directed by Barry Lipman, who also played the part of Teddy Brewster. Actually he did a rerun only a few years ago, unfortunately Barry was very sick at the time. Mary Pearce, Joan Tucker, Peter Noonan and new comer Gordon Simpson played the four leading roles in the first production. The rest of the cast had a good sprinkling of local characters, such as Jim Cassidy, Rhonda Middleton, Mike Bloomfield, Mike Richardson and Peter Kenyon. Once again Des Maguire was stage manager with Joan Jordan prompt. The local paper described it as” comedy at it’s best”.
Further to an earlier article, a study of micro film on old copies of the Champion Post indicated that the Society was very close to staging a drama “The Brides of March” in 1966, however the two leading actors left town so it was never performed. To keep member interest, play readings were held at the monthly meetings starting with “Five in a Cage”.
Barry Lipman took over for 1971. It was another period when apparently nothing was staged. Unfortunately Barry is no longer with us having passed away a few years ago. A search of the records revealed that a casting night for the musical “South Pacific” was advertised but never eventuated. Early in 1972, Bob Munro wrote to the Champion Post, inviting interested people to revive the Society, resulting in the AGM being held where he was elected the new President. Once again the Society was active with two shows “ Billy Liar” and “The Rape of the Belt” being produced by the end of the year. More about them next time.