OVER recent weeks we have had several pictures sent in by readers of old productions by Black Country amateur operatic groups. These pictures come from Margaret Parkes of Tividale and they take us back 40 years to October 1973.
They show the Tube Investments Social Club Operatic Society production of South Pacific that received rave reviews.
Margaret joined the accounts department of Accles and Pollock in Oldbury on leaving school at 14 and two years later she joined the amateur operatic group. She worked there until she got married to Roy Parkes, who worked for Stewarts and Lloyds, and left to start a family, returning to the accounts department when her children were of school age.
Margaret and Roy took part in many TISCOS shows and were also members of the Quinton Operatic Society.
South Pacific is one of the most popular musicals of all time. First staged on Broadway in 1949, in 1958 it was filmed by 20th Century Fox and the movie’s soundtrack is one of the best selling albums in the UK, topping the charts for 115 weeks, 70 of them consecutively, and in the top five for 214 weeks.
The cast for the TI production was as follows:
Denise Callaghan (Ngana), Steven Cooper-Bagnall (Jerome), Ian Athey (Henry), Rosemary Curtis (Ensign Nellie Forbush), Mike Maloney (Emile de Becque), Barbara Grove (Bloody Mary), Vinnie Moyes (Marcel), Keith Eustace (Abner), Neal Carter (Stewpot), George Deeley (Luther Billis), Vic Wallace (Professor), Ron Fountain (Lt Joseph Cable), Keith Harrison (Capt George Brackett), Alan Smith (Cmdr William Harbison), Colin Turton (Herbert Quaile), Roy Parkes (Sgt Kenneth Johnson), Malcolm Williams (Tom O’Brien), David Nightingale (Bob McCaffrey), Ted Tatton (Hamilton Steeves), Colin Curry (Victor Jerome), Margaret Johnson (Lt genevieve Marshall), Margaret Parkes (Ensign Lisa Manelli), Jenny Hodgetts (Ensign Connie Waleska), Jane Deeley (Ensign Janet McGregor), Anne Curry (Ensign Bessie Noonan), Joan Deeley (Ensign Pamela Whitmore), Brenda Turton (Ensign Rita Adams), Ann Holden (Ensign Sue Yaeger), Deliah Pugh (Ensign Betty Pitt), Dorothy Cox (Ensign Cora MacRae), Janice Eaton (Ensign Dinah murphy), Sylvia Cox (Liat), Ernie Glover (Lt Buzz Adams) and Keith Beard, David Fereday, George Hackeson, Keith Inwood and Nigel Hall as sailors and marines.
Do readers recognise any of those names?
The production got a glowing review in the Weekly News, with the reviewer, VS, suggesting that parts of the show were even better than the movie:
“The TI Operatic Society’s production of the Rogers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific can only be described as a superb, really professional one.
“Whoever cast Rosemary Curtis for the leading role of Ensign Nellie Forbush must have had a far greater understanding of the show than the casting director of the film version who chose Mitzi Gaynor for the part. Older, less svelte and with a much better voice, Rosemary was far more convincing than Mitzi Gaynor, with her ‘almost-to-good-to-be-true’ looks could ever be.
“Bubbling over with personality, she reached out and captivated the entire audience with her vibrant soprano voice and acting ability.
“Playing opposite her as Emile de Becque, Mike Maloney’s interpretation of the part was unquestionable. His fine bass voice and distinguished looks typified everyone’s idea of a French planter.
“His fine acting ability lent itself well to the part which alternates from an attitude of joy to one of abject misery. His performance was totally convincing.
“Barbara Grove, as Bloody Mary, was unrecognisable with her superb make-up and dress. She was a marvellous choice for the part and her rich contralto voice gave magic to all her songs.
“The mystical Bali Ha’i and the lively Happy Talk endeared her to the audience although Bloody Mary’s character is questionable.
“The extremely difficult mute-part of Liat, Bloody Mary’s daughter was remarkably played by Sylvia Cox. The success or failure of the character depended so much on facial expressions and ‘hand dancing’, that it would easily have ‘died’.
“Sylvia Cox is someone who I’m sure we will be seeing more of in the future. She deserves all the praise she will undoubtedly get.
“Playing opposite Liat as Lieutenant Joseph Cable, Ron Fountain, a baritone playing a tenor part, brought a warmth of feeling and conflicting emotion to a part which was so important.
“He shone particularly in the song Younger Than Springtime, and during the Happy Talk scene.
“As the questionably admirable Luther Bliss, George Deeley was excellent, playing his part with great gusto and humour.
“Those performers unmentioned should not feel daunted. They remain so for no reason than lack of space.”
Did you take part or go to see the show at the TI Ballroom in Oldbury? Have you pictures from other local amateur shows? Contact email@example.com. or write in.