Anniversary Revue

20 July 2023

Celebrating 75 Years of St Peter Players

Welcome to the 75th Anniversary Revue by the St Peter Players.

The St Peter Players began life in 1948 as the Dorothy Atwell Players. Dorothy was a founder
member of this group and produced the first few productions herself. The first of these was
“Three in a Room” and it took to the stage in the old Kings Hall in Hampden Road, which
was the group’s home until the hall closed in 1958. Rehearsals took place at The George
public house and an orchestra, led by Ken Bell for six years, played at every performance.
The groups sixth performance in 1950, “French without Tears” saw the groups name
changed to “The St Peter Players”.

This revue is a culmination of how the St Peter Players have developed over the years.

Review by Noda

Society: St Peter Players
Production: 75th Anniversary Revue
Date: 14th July 2023
Report By: Judith Watsham

Thank you for inviting me to join you for your summer 2023 show and for your warm welcome and hospitality. 

Seating at tables is always a bonus for me – saves juggling drink, pad and pen!  On this occasion it was especially appreciated as you had seated me with our NODA VIPs – National President 2022-2023 Nick Lawrence and our London Councillor Pam Armstrong.  I was also delighted to join everyone on stage for a photo, but as I am the least photogenic person in the universe I do hope I have not spoilt the result!

Ruth Corner, your Director, together with Tina Barclay, put together a very varied programme which really gave a good flavour of how St Peter Players has developed over the years, starting with plays and progressing to the position you are in today when you can mount full scale musicals as well.  In between came the addition of Old Time Music Hall – very popular in the 1970s – 1990s – and pantomime.  I know that you have also  successfully competed in drama festivals and raised money for local charities.  I take my hat off to you Ruth and Tina for your energy in directing and researching such a wide-ranging show with numbers from Sondheim to panto via music hall!

It was especially encouraging to see that all ages were included, and all given their own ‘spot’.  Another huge plus point for me was that you all smiled!  Quite often when I see a show elsewhere, I find that there are members of the chorus who forget this important point.  Smile and look confident, as you all did, and you can get away with blue murder on stage – not that any of you needed to on this occasion.

What is a show like this without excellent choreography?  You certainly fielded a big team to deal with the huge demands of movement in a show like this with so many on stage – and it worked very well.  Movement was always slick, and no one ever got in anyone else’s way, quite a feat with 34 in the cast and mixed ages.

Good use was made of all available entrances and exits, which certainly kept the pace up well.

Adrian Sutcliffe, your MD, was kept very busy on stage with keyboard accompaniment and kept the momentum going well. 

The informative programme, courtesy of Tina Barclay and Jason Congerton made for an interesting and informative read – do enter it into the NODA London Programme Awards 2024 – form and details of the NODA London website.  You can send it in at any time.  You even found a quote from the notorious Bucks Examiner reporter, the late Basil Ashmore.  At least one other local company referred to him as ‘a legend in his own lunchtime’ and the sight of the short-sighted reviewer peering from the front row put many a performer off his or her stride!

The simple stage setting was greatly enhanced by the collage of programmes and posters; well done Tina and Ruth, these were most effective.  The small room setting where Barbara was packing up her home and sorting out her memories added an extra dimension and the addition of a small screen which illustrated relevant programme covers worked well; I think the operation of this was down to your sound guru, Peter Heaps, wasn’t it? 

Les Brewer’s lighting was good and was especially effective in lighting up the aforementioned corner of the stage where the three actors who linked some of the scenes were placed.

The Wardrobe Department did you all proud as usual with effective matching black and gold outfits as well as providing the necessary additions to your costumes to suit each number.  Quite how you all kept tabs on your many changes – never appearing in the wrong one – beats me!

There were so many excellent performances in this show that it would be unfair of me to single out anyone by name.  Suffice it to say that stand out numbers for me included:

The Opening, The Worst Pies, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Hey Big Spender, The Forbidden Broadway medley, If I were not upon the Stage, Friendship, your version of Memories and your Finale – The Size of the Sun’.

But there were a lot more highspots in the show, believe me, I loved them all.  Such a very varied programme – with emotive reactions to The Accrington Pals and Diary of Anne Frank  contrasting with the high comedy from Music Hall routines, including Max Miller and The Master and the Maid.

All in all, an enjoyable evening I felt was had by all your audience, including some youngsters who were mesmerised!  Perhaps some of them will join the Players and help to keep the momentum going for another 75 years.

Judith Watsham

Districts 11 and 11A Rep NODA London