GADS – Drama at the heart of the village – 1970s continued

In 1978 Jim Callaghan was Prime Minister and Margaret Thatcher the Opposition; the Yorkshire Ripper had not yet been caught and several more women  were found murdered. In a similar weather pattern to this year, February of 1978 had brought dramatic blizzard conditions to the south west of the country. In the media, history was made as Anna Ford became the first female newsreader and in science a new baby by the name of Louise Brown made her appearance. Concrete cows also appeared in Milton Keynes, Nottingham Forest won the Division 1 League title for the first time in their history and May Day became a Bank Holiday for the first time.

In the theatre, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Evita was premiered in London. Drama of another kind was on the minds of those in Skeffington Close. Skeffington Close was still the hub for GADS meetings and, while the committee personnel changed, the essential friendships within the group did not. In June 1978, as well as reflecting on the outcome of the spring production of ‘Ladies in Retirement’ and setting a date for the autumn production, the GADS committee were also planning a cricket match – Ladies v Gents. A soft ball was to be used and no ball tampering allowed!

Before another production could be staged however, the piano badly needed to have new castors fitted and the stage door needed door knobs. A budget of £10-12 was set.

There’s no record of the outcome of the Cricket Match but it was clearly amicable because a Car Rally was organised and took place the following month for members and their friends!

Appropriately enough the next production was to be ‘A Wild Goose Chase’ and one of the most important jobs was to write to the Chief Constable about borrowing a policeman’s uniform. How times have changed!

A Wild Goose Chase

A few new members were mentioned in the programme by the Producer Sylvia Cook : ‘Neil Whiteley…sense of humour and easy going nature ; Susan Vinci, playng the part of a young scots lass..with a name like Vinci that takes some doing; Lloyd Marlow playing P.C. Pond and keeping his wife Kay, Geddington’s Post Mistress, awake at night learning his lines. ‘ All three are seen with other established members of the cast in the photograph from the production.

The production was a success in more ways than one and enabled the purchase of new ‘flats’ and extra lighting equipment.

How the Other Half Loves

The production that followed was ‘How the Other Half Loves’ by Alan Aykbourn which would be quite an ambitious project , subject to much more hefty royalties than usual, but produced by the experienced Maurice Holmes. Admission would be 60p and programmes 10p. As well as the usual advertisement in the Evening Telegraph there were to be posters in the village and car stickers available. The play was a huge success.  The Evening Telegraph headline was  ‘Top Class Performance’  with a generous sprinkling of ‘hilarious’, outstanding’ and ‘excellent’ in the review.

GADS now had a healthy bank balance, an efficient lighting system, wide costume and props stock and good stage facilities. They were able to make donations to the Village Hall, Gardening Club and The Chapel. They also said farewell to Mr & Mrs Shaw, stalwarts of the society for some years, giving them a book on Northamptonshire as a memento of happy times.

When a production of The Boyfriend was proposed it was realised that the society was short of young male actors and there was a plan put in place to encourage young players to join the group .. and so the seeds for a Young GADS were sown. By now Keith A’Ness was Chairman and the reputation of the village productions was strong enough for the committee to notify Weekend Television of future productions in the hope that they would feature them in their broadcasts.

In ‘The Boyfriend’ Marlyn Davies featured in the article in the Evening Telegraph as Hortense, the maid, looking very glamorous and Kay Marlow was praised for her performance as Polly Brown, a poor little rich girl; a far cry from Kay’s day job as the postmistress! Also commended was Marion Sexton for the ‘admirable musical accompaniment’

A new decade was about to arrive and GADS would continue to grow in number, skill and ambition, providing quality entertainment in the village over the next 10 years.

If reading this article brings back memories, please take a moment to share them through our ‘Comments’ box.

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