ABOUT OUR SOCIETY
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 first production for 1975 was the play by George Bernard Shaw, “Pygmalion”, staged in the Little Theatre. Ken Docksey directed, with newcomers Tony Guiffre playing Henry Higgins and Wendy Yelf, Eliza Dooliitle. Bob Munro was very suited to portray Alfred Doolittle, Bob Harris, Colonel Pickering and Rick Hutton as Freddy Eynsford Hill. Others in the cast were Mick Budden, Bob Waters, Anne Wildman, Vicky Setter, Sandra Smith and Warwick Tom. There is no record of ticket prices for the show but over four performances the door takings amounted to $757.
This was the only production in the Little Theatre for the year as the next show “Annie Get Your Gun” was staged at the Leagues Club in November over four nights. Over the three year period ’74 to ’76 the Society endeavoured to improve the theatre with the purchase of chairs through the Shire Council to save sales tax , the upgrading of the heating by using electricity instead of gas and general renovation which included painting of all the inside of the building with white woodwork and Zenith Blue walls. This was not without its problems as the power switches for the heating had to be made more accessible, the security doors had to be re-swung after vandals forced entry and splashed the remains of the paint over chairs, books and records and removed the fuse from the power box which then had to be locked.
But in the true spirit of the Society motto “She’ll be Right”, members rallied and got the Society back on an even keel. “Annie” was the very successful final show for 1975, directed by Tony Guiffrey, musical direction Vivienne Steventon and choreography by Judy Baker. The leading roles of Annie Oakley and Frank Butler were played by Elaine Johnson and Ron Smith. Jack Mowtell landed the part of Sitting Bull, as he said this was the only part that would get him on stage. This was one of those shows with a big cast and included many well-known locals such as Lorna Parkhill, Geoff Steventon, Alan Wright, Reg Pritchard, Bob Steel, Bill Watts, Cheryl Brown, Pat Carey and Neil Smith. The music was provided by a seven piece orchestra, consisting of violin, viola, cello, flute, clarinet, alto saxophone and of course piano ably shared by Margaret Cooke and Betty Gray who incidentally was Vivienne’s mum.
Vivienne and Geoff were married while both performing with the Society as were Sue Fay and Ric Hutton, just adding to the long list of happy couples who met at the M & D. The AGM in 1976 saw Liz Matthews re-elected President for the third year while Lorna Parkhill, one of the newer members, took over Secretaryship from Wendy Yelf. Alan Wright, a new Scientist at the Telescope and his wife Hilary joined the Society when they came to Parkes having had previous experience in repertory theatre in England.
He directed the first production for 1976 “Breath of Spring” with Sandra Smith having the role of Nanette, and Ric Hutton the role of Brigadier Albert Rayne. Others in the cast were, Liz Matthews, Pat Carey, Stan Kingham and Murray McLachlan in his first part with the Society. This three act was very well received and set the tone for the rest of the year.