How a chat in the butcher’s led to 200 musicals, pantos and plays

    Performing to more than 100,000 people across seven decades is no mean feat but the Wadhurst Dramatic Club has achieved that impressive milestone. Here’s what its Chair Catherine Whitehead told us about its fascinating history and how members are going to mark their very special birthday

    Wadhurst Dramatic Club

    Over 210 musicals, pantos and plays have been auditioned, rehearsed and performed by Wadhurst Dramatic Club since it started in 1946.

    Former RADA pupil and local girl Margaret Luck suggested the idea of setting up an amateur dramatic group to her friend Freda ‘Panny’ Tyrrell while collecting meat rations in the village butcher’s one day.

    From there they went on to garner support from a few others, including a couple of demobbed soldiers, and before long they were able to put on their first production: Ivor Novello’s Fresh Fields.

    Since those early days many hundreds of enthusiastic thespians have trodden the village’s Commemoration Hall boards with many more volunteering on costumes, make-up, lighting, sound, stage crews and props.

    Most important of all, Wadhurst Dramatic Club (WDC) has worked out that we’ve played to an audience of more than 100,000 people over the years. And we’re very grateful to them as they’ve supplied us with lots of laughter, appreciative applause and stalwart support for all our ventures so a big thank you to Wadhurst and its amazing community spirit!

    To mark our special 70th birthday WDC is putting on The Platinum Revue from next Thursday. But it is no parade of the club’s past glories. Instead, it’s a celebration of its current talent, of its ongoing enthusiasm and a snapshot of what WDC players want to perform now.

    Each member has been encouraged to contribute their own ideas, to collaborate with others and to come up with their own costume and props to make this a truly great birthday party, where everyone who wants to does ‘a turn’ during our Platinum evening.

    The acts on the night range from George Formby, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis numbers to songs from Grease, The Book of Mormon and Les Misérables.

    What is particularly wonderful is that the age range of performers and crew spans over 70 years, – from the natural talent of seven-year-old Duke Kirton to agile septuagenarians like Dot Smytherman (both pictured below) and John Bush, who is actually WDC’s President but also an essential part of our lighting platform.

    Duke Kirton says he loves being part of the Wadhurst Dramatic Club: “You get to wear really funny clothes, or pretend you love somebody. If you are new and worried about getting on stage for the first time, don’t be. You will have friends who will cheer you on.”

    And that’s exactly what is special about our drama club. Our variety of ages works – with youngsters and seniors inspiring each other; collaborating together and having a giggle, too.

    HOW TO BOOK TICKETS FOR WDC’S 70TH BIRTHDAY REVUE

    Wadhurst Dramatic Club’s Platinum Revue will be performed at Wadhurst’s Commemoration Hall on Thursday May 19 until Saturday May 21, starting at 7.30pm (doors open at 7pm). Seating is at tables of eight and tickets cost £8 for adults and £5 for children. They are available from Southern Cross Travel in Wadhurst or online at www.wadhurstdramaticclub.co.uk (a small online booking fee applies).

    For more information or group bookings ring Catherine on 01892 783384.

    TWO’S COMPANY
    Dot Smytherman and Duke Kirton are both performing in the Platinum Revue and, unbelievably, there is 70 years between them!