Parkes Musical & Dramatic Society

Little Theatre - Big Entertainment

History Part 11 - Sleeping Flowers

 Bob Munro and his wife Pat were English teachers at the High School and through Bob, the Society was once again energised. He encouraged other teachers to participate and in the second half of 1972 during his Presidency, a new group of members staged” Billy Liar” under his direction. Mary Pearce, a stalwart of the Society, was once again co-opted with Mike Bloomfield, Bob Harris, Tony Walker. Janice Field helped back stage, a job she did in the next three productions.

Following close on the heels of this production was the “Rape of the Belt”, a Grecian comedy in three acts, directed by Jeanne Woodlands with Mike Bloomfield as executive director. Bob Munro and Bob Harris both took a part, with new comers Vivienne Gray, Greg Richards, Wyn Miller and Annette Birch also appearing. Stage managers were Bill Martens and Gary Ercher and lighting, Bob Johns. A well known Parkes hairdresser, Ron Baldwin, was responsible for the hair styles for this and the next production. This concluded the year with both shows being a financial success. The committee looked forward to 1973 with much anticipation, planning two shows for the year.

 The Society numbers were boosted with the arrival of new members Sue Fay, Ken Docksey and Carol Croskell to take part in the current production of “The Shifting Heart “. Tony Walker directed the production with John Bragg as Stage Manager. The choice of this play was a bold move by the Society as it dealt with racism and discrimination in the 1950s. The high standard of acting meant it was well received in the Parkes community.

To add contrast, the next and final production for the year was a melodrama with much hissing and booing, unfortunately the name of the show doesn’t appear in the records.

1974 saw a change in leadership with Liz Matthews taking the chair. Liz joined the M & D and carried on a family tradition. Her father was James Condon a well known actor on stage and screen.

The first production of the year was “The Anniversary”, a black comedy set in the 60s. Liz played a leading role, together with newcomer Ric Hutton. Following on, the members had a desire to write a revue with a lot of local content. As several of the staff from the Dish were involved, it was named “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Telescope”. Ric Hutton and Sandra Smith provided the musical material and Vivienne Steventon was musical director. The performance was staged at the Leagues Club with a meal included in the ticket price. While the audience enjoyed the revue, there were a few unforseen problems with organising the cabaret style evening which detracted from the show’s success.

In the early years of the 70’s , members wanted to upgrade the seating at the Little Theatre, so quotes were obtained for the supply of plastic stackable chairs. Approaches were made to the Council for assistance as well as applying for grant funds. Eventually 150 grey plastic seats were obtained to replace the old metal chairs. At the same time permanent electric heating was installed by the local electricity authority. This also improved the comfort of the audience.

In November ’74, Liz Matthews directed the musical “Camelot” which was put on in the High School Hall as the theatre stage wasn’t large enough for this production. The Sinfonia of the West under the baton of Lindsay Morehouse provided the music with a 16 piece orchestra. Margaret Cowell played the piano, a mammoth job. Ric Hutton played Arthur, Pat Carey portrayed Guinevere and Bob Munro was Merlin. Other locals in the cast besides the regulars were Geoff Steventon, Cliff Cowell, Des Wann, Jack Mowtell, Vicki Setter, Anne Lilley, Deirdre Rowley, Lorna Parkhill, Betty Heatley and Dorothea Tom. There were some funny moments during the show. Liz asked the cast to bring flowers for the musical number “The Merry Month of May” to add colour. Sir Tom of Warwick, a knight in the chorus, brought Gerberas to brighten up the stage. Liz commented “trust you to bring bl**** flowers that go to sleep at night !!

“Camelot” was a very successful musical, financially enabling the Society to further upgrade the Little Theatre.


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