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Matlock & District Amateur Operatic Society, 1956
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The Gondoliers or The King of Barataria, 10 - 14 April 1956

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The Operatic Society performed The Gondoliers, a comic opera in two acts written by W. S. Gilbert and composed by Arthur Sullivan, at the Ritz Cinema on Causeway Lane. There were five shows in total, including a Saturday afternoon matinee performance. It was a return to a G&S opera after a break of six years. The Derbyshire Times believed that "By the time the show closes ... Matlock may well be aclaiming "The Gondoliers" as the best presented by the society in the post-war decade"[1]. The Mercury excelled itself: "The Gondoliers has been well cast, the cream of the district's vocal talent being employed to excellent effect in the many "star" roles"[2].

The main photo and the enlargements below show many of the Operatic society's team in 1956, from the musical accompanist at all the rehearsals to the producer and those singing the leading roles. It is difficult to know how many of them learned to sing in church choirs but Bernice Stoddart, Ted Allsop and Frank Clay had all been members of Holy Trinity choir in Matlock Bath at one time or another, for example, and Phyllis Wright was the church organist there. The show's producer, Harry Askew of Chesterfield, had performed in the Society's productions. Clarice Lill, the Chairwoman, had also been a leading light in many pre-war productions.

1. Enlargement of the left hand side

From left to right

Back Row: Gerald West[3], Harry Briddon[3], Bert Littlewood, Frank Clay[3].
Third Row: Doreen Moreton[3], Olive Beauchamp, Joan Millward.
Second Row: Cora Oliver[3], Bernice Stoddart[3], Evie Gentle, Delys Allen, Marion Bird.
Front Row: Harry Brown (Stage Manager), Margaret Fay[3] (committee), Joyce Loverock[3] (committee), Alistair Storey (Treasurer), Marie Wright (secretary), Henry Askew, L.R.A.M. (Producer and Musical Director).

2. Enlargement of the right hand side

From left to right

Back Row: Jack Hammond[3], Cedric Smalley, Ted Allsop.
Third Row: Margaret Kent[3], Jean Wall, Eric Smith, Sadie Toplis, Michael Maltby[3], Deborah Eldridge (dancing mistress).
Second Row: Peggy Baldwin, Jacqueline Baker, Jean Keighley, Adrian Beauchamp (played the drummer boy), Jess Bradshaw (prompter).
Front Row: Clarice LilI (Chairman), Claude Rice[3] (committee), Daphne Rice[3] (committee), Raymond Greatorex[3] (committee), Phyllis Wright (accompanist) .

Not shown in the photograph:

1. Performers:
Mary Jones[3], Fred Shaw[3], Ron Smith[3]
Pages: Joan Hammond, Elizabeth Kent
Guards: Martin Bibby, Keith Beardow, Ronald Freeberne, Michael Wildgoose
Trumpeters: Nigel Bryant, Roger Chamberlain

2. Behind the scenes:
Wardrobe mistresses Pat Storey and Jessie Agutter

A group at the Opera Ball, 1956

Keith Beardow (standing) with Cora Oliver (2nd from right) and others

The photographer of all the images is unknown.
Top image and enlargements in the collection of, provided by and © Ann Andrews. This image was also published in the programme.
Bottom Image scanned, supplied by and Copyright Chris and Keith Beardow.
Researched, written by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.


[1] "The Derbyshire Times", Friday 13 April 1956.

[2] "Matlock Mercury", No. 1,218. 14th April 1956.

[3] All played a leading or supporting role in the production.