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Tab Operatic's 1993 production of Oklahoma

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: January 04, 2014

By Dan Shaw

  • The Tab Ladies

  • "Oh, the farmer and the cowman should be friends"

  • Iain Newman, Judith Horton and Antony Edwards

  • Peter Lodge, June Bannister and John Homer

  • Lawson Siviter, Elaine Vine and David Watton

  • Natalie Baggott, Stan Proudman and Barbara Detheridge

  • Farmers' daughters

  • The Tab Amateur Operatic Society staged Oklahoma! in 1993

  • The ranchers' gals

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FOR fans of local amateur operatics we turn the clock back almost 21 years, to April 1993, with these pictures of the cast of the Tab Operatic Society's production of Oklahoma!

The society was founded in 1946 as the Old Hill Tabernacle Amateur Operatic Society, but its roots go back even further.

In 1909 19-year-old Winifred Carter started producing Sunday School musical plays in the school buildings at the Old Hill Tabernacle Primitive Methodist Church. The first was The Maid of Sherwood and Winifred also produced shows for the annual Band of Hope Festival held at the Whitley Memorial Schools in Cradley Heath.

The Old Hill Tabernacle Amateur Operatic Society was set up in 1946 and its first show was Zurika at the Tabernacle Sunday School.

The group produced a show at their Old Hill home every year, ranging from light opera to popular musicals, but in 1983 the group was forced to relocate.

When dwindling congregations forced several Methodist churches in Old Hill to combine the Tabernacle was one earmarked for closure. The society was forced to sever its links with the Methodists and find a new home, which they did at Brierley Hill Civic Hall. A new name was chosen and, as they had always been affectionately known was the "tab", they officially became the Tab Amateur Operatic Society.

In 1993, for their 46th major production the group chose Oklahoma! by Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein II. This very popular musical was first staged on Broadway in 1943 and is based upon Lynn Riggs' 1931 play Green Grow the Lilacs. In 1955 it was adapted into a film starring Gordon MacRae, Shirley Jones and Rod Steiger.

The main cast for the Tab's production was as follows:

June Bannister (Aunt Eller), Antony Edwards (Curly), Judith Horton (Laurey), Peter Lodge (Slim), David Walton (Will Parker), Iain Newman (Jud Fry), Elaine Vine (Ado Annie Carnes), Lawson Siviter (Ali Hakim), Natalie Baggott (Gertie Cummings), Barbara Detheridge (Vivienne), Stan Proudman (Andrew Carnes) and John Homer (Cord Elam).

Also taking part were Diane Bate, Margaret Bird, Enid Chattin, Yvonne Chattin, Pat Fincher, Helen Fisher, Greta Hodgetts, Julia Jones, Angela Joyce, Siân Pollard, Tara Rose, Karen Spencer, Linda Whitehouse and Margaret Woodall (ranchers' gals); Andrew Bate, Colin Detheridge, Ken Foley, Geoff Hodgetts, Cen Jones, Kevin Lawlor, Peter Smith, Stephen Totney, David Watton and Geoff Willetts (farmers and cowmen); Lorna Best, Alexandra Chell, Vicki Cotter, Lara Goddard, Angela Green, Helen Hodgetts, Rachel Horton, Victoria Jones, Helen Kendrick, Emma Mottram and Estelle Williams (farmers' daughters); and Simon Baker, Andrew Billingham, Stephen Coussens, Leon Davies, Martin Evans, James Parrish, Timothy Smith and Nathan Watkins (cowboys).

The show was produced and choreographed by Audree Henwood, Craig Sproston was musical director and the pianist was Geoff Totney. Also working behind the scenes were David W. Truman (stage manager), Richard Detheridge (assistant stage manager), Phillip Hackett (stage manager's aide), Martin Hudson (sound), Reg Evans, Bryan Hackett and Edward Mallen (lighting) and Charles Andrews (house manager).

The Tab Operatic Society's 2014 production at Brierley Hill Civic Hall is Copacabana, the hit musical based upon the music of Barry Mannilow. The show runs from Tuesday 8th to Saturday 12th April, with performances at 7.15pm and a Saturday matinee at 2pm. For tickets call 07722 417962 and further details can be found on the website www.taboperatic.com.

Were you in the audience 21 years ago for the Tab production of Oklahoma! or perhaps you took part and have memories to share. We'd also like mementoes from other Black Country dramatic and musical societies. Contact dshaw@blackcountrybugle.co.uk or write to our editorial address.

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