Oliver sets standard in ‘84

Bill Sikes (Neil Wescott) threatening Nancy (Karen Benjamin) in the 1984 production of Oliver.

Bill Sikes (Neil Wescott) threatening Nancy (Karen Benjamin) in the 1984 production of Oliver.

Continuing the series of the Parkes Musical & Dramatic Society History Part 19 (1984).

1984 was a memorable year for the Parkes Musical and Dramatic Society.

The season got off to a flying start with the staging of Oliver, directed by Partick Garvey. 

Patrick had been working all through the holidays preparing the theatre by painting the walls black and covering the windows.

For the sets, David Ward and Patrick glued foam tomato boxes together to form partitians.

All this was for the production of Oliver, with Patrick directing a cast of nearly sixty plus an orchestra of seven and twenty ”behind the scenes” workers.

The younger cast members included:

Bill Field (Oliver) 

Bill Jayet (Fagan)

Andrew Hogg (Artful Dodger)

Neil Wescott (Bill Sikes) 

Karen Benjamin (Nancy).

The older members were: 

Mal Wescott (Mr Bumble)

Lorna Parkhill (Mrs Corney) 

John Short (Mr Brownlow)  

Alan Wright and Estelle Cheney (Mr and Mrs Sowerberry) 

Geoff O’Donoghue (Dr Grimwig).

The Society has many long time members, our President, Lyn Townsend, was a very young member of Fagan’s Gang and our immediate past President, Neil Wescott played Bill Sykes.

“Oliver” was perhaps the first production to use multiple areas of the stage for different scenes and a seven piece orchestra front stage.

Oliver was a huge success and set the standard for future productions.

Early in the year the Society was asked to provide entertainment for a Rotary Conference, rehearsals were held in the High School Hall due to the unavailability of the Little Theatre.

Another request for support of a St Patricks Day concert had to be declined.

Storage of sets was always a problem; Bob Steele offered a big shed in Woodward St as a solution, so a resource committee was elected to handle the sets, costumes and lights at the new site.

At a recent CWRTC meeting David Segrott and Toni Lam were nominated for the Board and members voted to stay an amateur Company.

At Parkes Mark Carpenter conducted a very successful lighting workshop, resulting in the purchase of extra lights and dimmers.

David Segrott, in an audit of safety procedures at the theatre, recommended a phone installation, fire drill and evacuation procedures which was adopted.

The Society sent their best wishes for a speedy recovery to Marg Cowell after she became seriously ill after the production of “Oliver”.

A mystery play “A Time of Ones Own” with a cast of 15 was directed by David Segrott.

Geoff O’Donoghue, in the meantime, wrote and directed a play “Burger & Shake”.

This hilarious comedy had all the ingredients of a small town “eat joint” with live music.

Players participating included Geoff Lindsay, Marg Carey, Estelle Cheney, Karen McElroy, Chris Wright, Cheryl Brown, Bob Collins and John Short.

Music was provided by “Uncut”, a local band with Vern O’Hara, Ken Birmingham, Derek Holt and Mike McHatton, supported by a chorus of eight singers.

Aspirin and indigestion pills were available with tea and coffee served by highly desirable waitresses!

In the latter part of 1984 the Society had two shows to perform, the first being a collaborative effort with CWRTC members “You’re Gotta be Joking” directed by Egil Kipske.  

Lithgow, Grenfell and Parkes each produced a segment which came together as one show and toured the Region over two weekends

The other show was “The Two of Us” directed by Alan Wright and consisted of four entwined stories, acted by two players in each and was performed during November.

The first story was “Black & Silver” with Jeanette Dymond and Chris Wright, next was “The New Quixote” payed by Susie Ables and Ben Longden.  

After interval the third play was “Mr Foot” with Hilary Wright and Steve Scarlett.

The final one was “Chinamen” with Liz Matthews and Patrick Garvey.

This show completed a very busy but successful year for Parkes M & D.