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Half a century since Stourbridge amateur society staged The King and I

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: January 21, 2014

By Dan Shaw

  • Robert Barclay and Megan Cooper took the lead roles in the Stourbridge Amatuer Operatic Society's The King and I in 1964

  • The Royal Children from the show at Stourbridge Town Hall

  • A scene from "The Small House of Uncle Thomas", the play within the play

  • Deirdre Cooper as Lady Thiang

  • John Payne as Captain Orton

  • Barry Dillon as Sir Edward Ramsey

  • Nelson Quayle as the Kralahome

  • Peter Brookes played Louis Leonowens and Gordon Barclay was Prince Chulalongkorn

  • Avril Bowen as Tuptim and James Harper as Lun Tha

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THE Black Country has long enjoyed a high reputation for amateur theatre, with a number of groups treading the boards for over 100 years.

One of the oldest groups in the region is the Stourbridge Amateur Operatic Society, founded in 1909. Since then, with interludes for the two world wars, the society has staged an annual show but we go back 50 years to their 1964 production of The King and I.

Thanks to an anonymous reader who has given us a copy of the show's programme, we can share with you these pictures of the cast.

The King and I, by Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein II was based upon the book Anna and the King of Siam by Mary Landon, which told the story of English governess Anna Leonowens and King Mongkut of Siam in the 1860s. It was first staged in 1951 with Gertrude Lawrence and Yul Brynner in the lead roles.

For the SAOS 1964 production the cast was as follows:

John Payne (Captain Orton), Peter Brooks (Louis Leonowens), Megan Cooper (Anna Leonowens), John Smith (the Interpreter), Nelson Quayle (the Kralahome), Robert Barclay (the King), David Wright (Phra Alack), Avril Bowen (Tuptim), Deidrie Cooper (Lady Thiang), Gordon Barclay (Prince Chulalongkorn), Gail Aston and Carole Ogrins (Princess Ying Yaowalak), Gordon Thomas (Uncle Thomas), Mary Allport (Topsy), Laura Westwood (Little Eva), Thelma Hill (Eliza), David L. Howard (King Simon of Legree), Janet Chalcraft (Angel), Fred Bristow (Buddha), Michael Bowen and Albert George (Band).

The main characters were supported by Rachel Hopkins, Virginia Moore, Brenda Payne, Nancy Payton, Angela Slimm, Dianne Thornhill, Ted Baugh, Tom Brooks, David Hopkins, John Payne, Fred Shaw, John Smith, Neil Thomas and David Wright (Royal Dancers).

Elsie Adey, Gwen Barnett, Sylvia Davenport, Edith Dunn, Sybil Genner, Dora Hartley, Valerie Holloway, Jean Howard, Rosemary Kirton, Brenda Payne, Marjorie Perry, Hilda Shaw, Catherine Smith, Sylvia Thomas, Pauline Tildesley and Joy Tipper (Wives).

Christopher Brown, Pamela Hunt, Jane Laight, Susan Marshall, Robert Parker, Jacqueline Roper, Alison Russell, David Southall, Martin Southall, Joanna Sproson, Nicholas Sproson, Stephen Allen, Nicholas Dunn, Ian Harper, Jose Miller, Jayne Mole, Nicholas Morgan, Susan Morris, Anne Ogrins, Elizabeth Payton, Phillippa Tchahariwskij, Stephanie Tchahariwskij, Linda Thatcher and Fiona Thornhill (Princes and Princessess).

Brenda Bash, Sheila Jones, Beryl Mole and Gertrude Perry (Amazons) and Neville Bastable, Tom Brooks, Albert George, John Payne, John Smith, Neil Thomas and David Wright (Priests, Guards and Slaves).

The show was produced by Malcolm Wright, the musical director was Bernard Dunn and choreography was by Edith Dunn.

Also working behind the scenes were Tom Jones (House Manager), Sam Thompson (Assistant House Manager), Brenda Smith (Property Mistress), Gwyn Williams (Accompanist), Cyril Vance (Assistant Musical Director), Joan Makin (Call Boy), Iris Southall (Prompter), Peter Tildesley (Assistant Stage Manager), Roger Seabury (Electrician), Mary Beech and Grace Clemson (Wardrobe), Marian Evans (Box Office), and Jennie Trewhitt (Programme Sales Supervisor).

Have you any memories of the show? Did you take part or did you go and see it at Stourbridge Town Hall? Have you programmes or pictures from any other Black Country theatre group? Contact dshaw@blackcountrybugle.co.uk or write to the usual address.

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