- Gang Shows
From the Western Gazette, January 1873 in the ‘Burnham’ section:
THE PAGEANT SOCIETY
THE BURNHAM DRAMATIC SOCIETY
This was established in 1946 and put on productions at the Town Hall, the Pavilion and sometimes at the Arts Centre in Poplar Rd.
The example programme below is from 1949.
Things become a little confusing as there are also some programmes in existence referring to the ‘Burnham on Sea Dramatic Society ‘ (which is likely to be the same thing) and The ‘Burnham on Sea Amateur Dramatic Society, which could be different judging by the example programme of a 1952 ‘Revue’ ,at the Arts Centre, below.
ST ANDREWS DRAMA CLUB
Given that the performance below was raising funds for the FFH campaign it was probably 1963.
THE TABLEAUX SOCIETY
‘Tableaux Vivants’ were a once popular entertainment in which groups of people represented characters and scenes from art, history, literature or everyday life, somewhat like the tableaux floats we see in todays carnivals. The characters remained frozen in place and silent for about 30 seconds. Scenes were often accompanied by music or poetry.
Above is a tableau presented at Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations in Burnham, 1897. It is not known whether this was presented by the Tableau Society but it serves as an example of the form.
Below is an advertisement from 1909 for an entertainment in aid of the new St Andrew’s Clock Chimes Fund, and a subsequent review in the local press.
Another programme from 1909 showing examples of the tableaux performed.
Programmes for entertainment from 1960 & 1961. We have no other information abut the Harlequin Club.
THE BURNHAM-ON-SEA & HIGHBRIDGE AMATEUR OPERATIC SOCIETY
The 1961 programme for ‘The Gypsy Baron’ tells us that the Society is one year away from its 50 year jubilee. It includes a list of previous productions beginning in 1913 with ‘H.M.S. Pinafore’ followed by ‘Dorothy’ in 1914. There was then a break during the war and the group re-formed in 1920 with ‘Les Cloches de Cornville’, produced by Arnold Pople. George Hauser was among the principals. Dorothy Hutchin, who joined as a chorus member in that year , was celebrated by an article in the Burnham Gazette & Highbridge Express in 1951 for 31 years of performances and a number of years as secretary. Both Mrs Hutchins and Mr Hauser received medals for 25 years of continuous service. There was a production every year (except 1932) until 1940 when there was another break during World War II. During that period the productions were always staged during Easter week at the Town Hall (Princess Hall) until they were transferred to the Ritz in 1937. Prices were 4s. 9d. for wooden chairs and 1s.3d. for the back three rows of forms. The orchestra was made up largely of students from the Guildhall school of music. The 1921 performance of Iolanthe was hit by an epidemic of mumps, resulting in the absence of many of the company, so that some of the ladies from the chorus had to dress up as men.
The following report appeared in the HIghbridge Advertiser of March 3rd 1940:
The group does not appear to have re-formed until 1950 with a production of ‘A Country Girl’. Annual productions continued again until 1960 Many though not all of the performances were of Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. The last listed production was Iolanthe in 1960.
In 1956 the Society produced a Gilbert & Sullivan double bill: ‘Trial By Jury’ and ‘H.M.S. Pinafore’
Some footage of the cast of a 1935 production can be found at 3’30 in the Youtube video below:
THE BURNHAM ON SEA GILBERT & SULLIVAN SOCIETY.
We have one programme from 1971 indicating the existence of another operetta group. We have no other information about this group (update: see comment at bottom of page by Nathalie Bending)
The society was first formed in 1969 by Joanne Page, Joan Plant, Valerie Hooper, Mike Hooper, Melvyn Shephard, Alastair Murray & Nina Haldenby. Other members joined the society later that year.
The first 30 years:
All performances at the Princess Hall.
Said to have been Burnham’s first pantomime.
The cast included:-
Brian Hooper, Geoff Lewis, Ann Cox, Colin Irish, Alastair Murray, John Midgley, Valarie Hooper, Laurie Easton, Micheal Easton, Jean Jotcham, Sue Wall, Gwen Allen, Colin Major, Bill Jacobs, Sandra Day , Valerie Symonds, Dave Pusil, Pat Pusil, Audrey David, Delyce Pursglove , Jean Ham , Sue Leigh, Cherry Daldry , Nina Haldenry and Doreen Watson,
Thanks to Dave & Pat Pusil for picture
Cast: Mike Hooper; Valerie Symonds; Val Hooper; Peter Rouse; Jean Whitehouse; Delyse Purseglore; Sue Leigh; Melvyn Shepherd; Nina Haldenby; Laurie Easton; Denise Berry; Dave Perry; Reg Perry; Linda Radford; Elaine Scadden; Jean Jotcham; Violet Hudson;Ann Cox; Karl Goosens; Pat Pusil; Dave Pusil; Mark Stent; Patrick Lovell; Jackie Beatty; Jean Ham; Wendy Hand. Nina Haldenby & Judith Stevenson were the golden statues.
PUSS IN BOOTS 1972
Cast: Peter Rouse; Valerie Symonds; Ann Goosens; Michael Hooper; Ann Cox; John Haldenby; Laurie Easton; Reg Perry; Violet Hudson; Melvyn Shepherd.
JACK AND THE BEANSTALK 1974
The cast included:-
Val Hooper, Valerie Symonds, Mike Hooper, Violet Hudson, Joan Placent, Pat Pusil and John Page.
Cast: Ann Cox; Valerie Symonds; Val Hooper; Alistair Murray; Barry Eggbeer; Ann Goosens; Peter Rouse; Maureen Easton; Violet Hudson; John Page; Pat Pusil; Pat Difford; Melvyn Shepherd.
ROBINSON CRUSOE 1976
The cast included:-
Nina Haldenby, Valerie Symonds, Wendy Hand, Jean Whitehouse, Alastair Murray, Violet Hudson, John Haldenby, David Williams, Ann Cox, Keith Pursglove, John Dolding and Doreen Hudson.
Thanks to Valerie Symonds and Pat & Dave Pusil for Panto Photos.
5. GANG SHOWS
These were definitely in 1957 & 58 but we do not know whether they continued longer than this. They were run by a combination of the St Andrew’s Boys Club and the Burnham Boy Scouts. In 1957 the venue was the St Andrew’s CHurch Hall and in 1958 the Town Hall (now Princess Theatre).
The programmes below explain in more detail. Thanks due to Brian Marchent for use of all of these materials.
The photo below appears to be of a similar production (with some of the same participants), but in a different and unknown location.