Directed by Ann Sykes
Musical director: Duncan Sykes
October 2, 3 & 4, 2008
75 Glorious Years
||On the Piano
||and The Players
||Front of House
||and The Players
||Players & Friends
||Lighting and Sound
||Selections from 'My Fair Lady'
||A Greengrocer's Shop
||Lily of Laguna
||'Still Life' by Noel Coward
|| directed by Valerie Clarke
||The Vicar Came Too
||St. Lawrence Male Voice Choir
||The Praying Mantis
||Four Yorkshire Men
||Songs from the Shows
|Your Master of Ceremonies
|| for tonight is:
||Mr Brian Beeston
[ Photographs ]
It seems a long time ago when Lionel and Andrew said that they were organising the
events for the St Lawrence '75' years and asked for ideas. Why, I wonder, did I think
that it would be suitable to follow '60' Glorious Years' with '75' Glorious Years?
It seemed such a good idea at the time - Duncan agreed to be Musical Director, e
veryone else thought it would be good - so there we were - on our way.
We invited anyone who had been in a play or musical in the last twenty years to return.
Hence, our lovely teenagers who were probably last on stage with us as small animals
in 'Toad of Toad Hall'!!
We had no preconceived thoughts of what we were going to produce, but from that
has developed what we hope will be an evening of nostalgia, spanning 1933-2008.
Looking back to 1993 when Derek Allcock and I directed '60' Glorious years, nothing
really has changed - how are we going to costume all these people?? How do you stop some
of the cast trying to hide behind Malcolm and Peter (so you - the audience - cannot see
if they don't know their lines!) and how are we going to get them on the stage anyway!!
Anyway, we hope we've cracked it - we hope you have a wonderful evening. Incidentally
2008 is the 60th Anniversary of the Players - a double whammy!!! And, like all producers,
my final word "That's it, never again" (until the next time -) who knows?
This year St Lawrence Church commemorates its 75th Anniversary and tonight Players
welcomes you to be a part of those celebrations. With music and song, drama and dance
we welcome you to an evening of entertainment.
St Lawrence Players is one, if not the longest standing, of social groups associated
with St Lawrence Church - celebrating its own 60th Anniversary this year.
In 1948, under the watchful eye of Father Godwin, Miss Angell formed a dramatic group
for young people. With the success of this junior group, a senior group was formed and
soon the two merged to form what has become today's Players. In these early days,
subscription to The Players was 3d; there were four productions a year which included
entertainment after the Summer Fete, and scenery was made from kitchen linoleum!
When Father Hitchinson came to St Lawrence, membership of Players was restricted to
communicants and the scripts were edited to avoid any foul or abusive language!
Nowadays everybody is welcome to join Players whether young or old, religious or
otherwise, in acting or non- acting roles. We meet every Thursday at 8.15pm and include
actors, costume design, props, lighting, set building and tea makers amongst our numbers.
So if you feel like joining us, just pop down to the Church hall on a Thursday and we
are sure to find an activity to suit you.
If however you wish to support us in another way - why not become an associate member
and receive newsletters and priority booking of our productions.
Each year we hold a number of social events for our members, which in the past have
included an Oscar Evening, a Blitz Ball and an End of the Pier Show. In December we will
be holding a Dickensian Evening.
St Lawrence Players has a strong membership, which has included a host of talented
people over the years. Each year we award the "Harper Award" in recognition of a member's
lifetime achievement at Players in memory of Pat Harper.
In celebration of this historic double anniversary we present this commemorative
programme for you to enjoy.
So let the show begin!!
A Miscellany of Memories
Compiled from Players, past and present. to celebrate
St Lawrence Players 60 years.
When I began to think about writing this article, so many names from the past came to mind.
There are far too many to mention here, but I have selected a few which I am sure will be
familiar to other people: Iris Castles, Audrey Coates, Stan Cook, Janet Ford, Pat Harper,
Peter Henson, Bob Hopson, Jean Jungreuthmayer, Ann Morgans, Ann and Leigh Smith.
These, along with others we all remember, acted with St. Lawrence Players, but there
are several people who supported us in various ways. For example, Joan Swanson, who was our
prompt for many years. I remember an occasion when I was on stage with just one other person
(who shall remain nameless) when we found ourselves performing in the wrong act. Eventually,
poor Joan gave up in despair and we had to work our own way out of the mess, hoping the
members of the audience were not lost in the process.
Then there were David Brown and Ted Edwards who used to accompany us on the piano - or
sometimes on two pianos - in the days when we put on pantomimes and musical productions.
Some of these called for very large casts and could lead to a somewhat overcrowded dressing
room. We all needed to keep a clear passageway between the stage and the dressing room so
that anyone needing a quick costume change could make a frantic dash in each direction.
Marjorie Howard was a marvel, with a keen eye for colour and style when it came to
providing costumes. Particularly spectacular were the fantastic hats which she fashioned
for the ladies appearing in musicals or costume dramas.
Players have always been responsible for designing and creating their own sets. I have
a fond memory of Wally Durston patiently showing me how to paint a brick wall on a backcloth
which was laid out on the hall floor, with both of us kneeling surrounded by various paints
We have had a multitude of happy occasions within Players, but there have been some sad
times too. One of these was when Derek Allcock died suddenly, just as we were about to present
"Carousel". His wife, Joy, and his family bravely insisted that we should carry on with the
performances. As Derek would have said, "The show must go on," - and it did!
I have left until last one of the stalwarts of the Players, Hylda Darby, who made me very
welcome when I joined the group. For many years she directed every production and made a great
success of doing so. She was quite thorough in observing details within a play. When we were
rehearsing "A Letter from the General", she asked all the ladies to wear headscarves. This was
because we were playing the part of nuns and needed to practice because we would be wearing
wimples, which could impede our hearing during the performance.
Rehearsals can be hard work for both actors and directors, but performances can bring great
satisfaction to everybody involved. This trip down Memory Lane has helped to remind me what
a rewarding time I have spent among friends in St. Lawrence Players.
Right from the start there were two stalwarts with quite different talents.
The first was Leigh Smith - always word and move perfect, reliable and rock steady -
and who never hogged anyone else's limelight! He effortlessly carried many of the main
The other was Gerald Collins - simply a natural on stage. He was never word perfect
but this was more of a handicap to others than to Gerald, who could improvise blithely
while the prompter wrestled with the script. Gerald was in his rumbustious element as
Charlie's Aunt, and as the pantomime dame - an annual 'turn' much enjoyed by the audience,
young and old.
My own favourite part? It has to be Dick Whittington's cat: no words to learn, a
pushover with the audience, and I ended up a bit leaner and a lot fitter.
Thank you, Players, for so much enjoyment and such a lot of happy memories.
Long may you continue!
My first production was as Oliver in the 1984 version. I didn't 'join' Players until
1986 appearing in Scrooge. Over the years I've appeared in 22 plays, musicals and pantomimes,
playing everything from a lion in The Wizard of Oz to a drunk photographer, in When We Are
Married, from a shop dummy in Man Alive to a loveable layabout in Run For Your Wife.
It's hard to say which character I enjoyed most, but I am a great fan of farce and so it
would be hard to choose between my characters in Run For Your Wife or It Runs In The Family.
As well as acting, I also helped build many of the sets. I now live in New Zealand, with
my wife and two children.
I Joined Players in 1995 helping to design and build two back gardens for a play called
Party Piece. I remember a group of us walking along the top of Eastcote with a fence panel
and garden shed to use as set pieces. After that I was involved in creating sets for haunted
houses, caves, shops and hotel rooms. I built props, from ouija boards, open backed safes to
old fashioned cameras and futuristic electronic bottle openers. I was on stage a couple of
times but spent most of the time hiding round the back as stage manager. In 2004 I designed
the poster for Murder by Misadventure and then went on to design the posters for seven more
plays. I made lots of friends and in 2006 married Katy. We've both since left but wish players
all the best for the future.
My first production in 1994 was Carousel. As a chorus member I was given three words to
say and was petrified! However I caught the acting bug. At first I seemed to be the resident
maid - trying to master the art of balancing a tray whilst opening a door and combating nerves
so that the cups didn't clatter! My funniest moment was during Aladdin. As the princess I had
dialogue with Aladdin during which the Emperor's long oriental moustache slowly came unstuck,
practically falling off - how we kept going I will never know! But my favourite part was
"Maggie" in Hobson's choice. I will always remember the good times both on and off the stage
and the many friends I made. One has become very special to me, in 2006 I married Justin!
Sixty years ago Players was formed when Lily Angell gathered together a group to produce
"A School for Scandal". At that time we were known as St. Lawrence Senior Players as there
was already a group of young people called St Lawrence Players. Among the first cast were
Harold Smith, Gerald Collins (later a popular Dame in the annual pantomime), Hylda Darby and
Joan Elding, who all stayed with us for many years. Soon Hylda took over as producer, ontinuing
for the next twenty-five years, ably assisted by husband Bill and Charles Sanders backstage.
At first we just used curtains on the stage, but gradually began to build scenery and improve
the sets. New Players joined the ranks - Leigh Smith, Audrey Coates, Jean Jungreuthmeyer and
Wally Durston were among the stalwarts. The hall at that time was not licensed for public
performances so we could not advertise and seats were available by invitation only, being
booked by prior purchase of a programme.
Our audiences have been very loyal and supportive. Fr. Rupert Godwin, the Vicar during our
early years, was so disappointed at having to miss one of our productions due to illness that
he invited the cast to visit him in his bedroom so that he could see us in our costumes and
made-up ready to go on stage.
From the beginning we had three productions a year. At first the Christmas show was always
a pantomime or, later, a children's play, performed first at the annual Sunday School party
and the following weekend for our invited audience, with disabled children from the local
St Michael's Home invited to the matinee. The cast of these shows also included some of the
Junior Players and children from the local Dancing School as fairies, etc. We also often
provided entertainment at the Church Summer Fetes, such as revues or a pierrot show.
We have had some difficult moments, but it has usually been 'alright on the night'.
However there was the occasion when I was playing Alice in "Alice in Wonderland" and was
being lowered down the rabbit hole from the flies when the lights went up too soon and I was
seen dangling mid-way! A more painful accident once happened when the leading man (Leigh Smith),
making a hasty exit, cracked his head on the wall backstage. Bleeding profusely, he had to
be mopped up in time for his next entrance: the show must go on. Happy days!
I recollect my sister Anne as the dormouse in "The Mad Hatter's Tea Party"
(Summer Fete approx 1947). The following is my verse and the chorus of
Harold Smith's rhyme for the revue in Coronation year.
(Performed with glum fatigue)
"See my periscope so battered,
Someone used it for a stool.
Six foot guardsman in a Busby
Sat on it, the silly fool!"
Chorus: "Oh! We've all 'ad such a very 'appy Coronation Day!"
My collaborations with Barbara Williams in revues and painting scenery were
highlights of my youth.
Susan Taylor (nee Laxton)
May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face
And the rain fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of his hand.