Golden memories of a diamond drama milestone

24th July 2020

Sixty years ago this month Sheringham Little Theatre hosted its first ever summer drama season.

The venue should have been celebrating that diamond anniversary milestone with a special season of plays reflecting decades back to the 1960s – until COVID-19 closed our doors.

But good news. The theatre has been given some memorabilia from that first ever landmark season which are a timely and poignant reminder of those early days.

They were donated by well-known local amateur actress, director and former ladies boutique owner June Cooper – just days before the five-play summer season should have opened this weekend Saturday July 25 with a performance of 1960s thriller Wait Until Dark.

June Cooper

June Cooper

Theatre director Debbie Thompson said: “As you would expect of an actress of June’s quality…the timing is perfect, and we are so grateful.

“We are devastated we cannot bring our audiences the summer season they love – but at least we provide some memories of how it all began.

“And we are appealing for any members of the public who have photos or memorabilia of that first season to contact us too – so we can enhance our archive even further.”

The first season programmes show it was staged by the Sheringham Urban District Council at the Empire Theatre as it was called then.

The shows were presented by the Regency Players nightly at 8pm with tickets on sale via Barney’s shop opposite the theatre, and pre show meals available at the Sea View restaurant.

Each of nine plays ran for six days and saw the cast having a gruelling schedule of performing one play by night while rehearsing the next during the day – which is why “rep” is regarded as the best possible training ground for actors.

The shows were:

  • The Pleasure of His Company – comedy set in San Francisco. The 1961 movie version starred Fred Astaire and Debbie Reynolds.
  • The French Mistress – a public school campus comedy. The 1960 film featured James Robertson Justice and Irene Handl.
  • Love from a Stranger – a 1930s thriller based on an Agatha Christie story
  • Beside the Seaside – a boarding house comedy of holiday chaos
  • Jane Steps Out – a Whitehall farce by radio comedy star Kenneth Horne. The 1950s BBC recording featured farce master Brian Rix.
  • Friends and Neighbours – Cold war comedy set involving a working class family. The 1959 film starred Arthur Askey and June Whitfield.
  • Murder without Crime – a thriller from a fashionable quarter of London. The 1950 film starred Dennis Price.
  • Doctor in the House – hospital comedy based on the well-known 1954 film featuring Dirk Bogarde, Kenneth More and Donald Sinden.
  • There Was a Crooked Man – crime comedy set in Chelsea. The 1960 movie starred Norman Wisdom, Alfred Marks, and Susannah York.

Here are the cast lists for each:

Sheringham Little Theatre summer rep 1960 inaugural season programmes

Sheringham Little Theatre summer rep 1960 inaugural season programmes

Sheringham Little Theatre summer rep 1960 inaugural season programmes

Sheringham Little Theatre summer rep 1960 inaugural season programmes

Sheringham Little Theatre summer rep 1960 inaugural season programmes

Sheringham Little Theatre summer rep 1960 inaugural season programmes

Sheringham Little Theatre summer rep 1960 inaugural season programmes

Sheringham Little Theatre summer rep 1960 inaugural season programmes

Sheringham Little Theatre summer rep 1960 inaugural season programmes

 

If anyone has any memorabilia, anecdotes, memories of the cast – and particularly photos – of that first 1960 season please message Sheringham Little Theatre on its social media channels or email trustee richardjbatson@gmail.com

Sheringham Little Theatre summer rep 1960 inaugural season programmes