ACT in Action Issue 17

A man for all seasons

COLIN BROWN is part of the furniture at New Mills Arts Theatre, celebrating 63 years of continuous membership this year. Colin has had a multitude of roles since 1956 but it is his acting and behind the scenes work which, with help, has saved the Jodrell Street theatre on more than one occasion. New Mills born and bred Colin, 84, decided to join New Mils Amateur Operatic & Dramatic Society (NMAODS) after seeing earlier productions. His first theatre production, hired for one week annually, was Rose Marie, in which he took the part of Black Eagle and was the chorus The last six decades have seen, to quote Colin, “lots of ups and downs. It has been non-stop and there, always another challenge - I’ve seen it all. The key thing is that we’ve never stood still, and I’ve experienced so much joy down the years” Colin’s considerable upsides include his memorable roles in landmark productions His favourite roles include playing the king three times in the King and I. and starring in Oklahoma! The North West premiere of Fiddler on the Roof in 1972 was the first time the new revolving stage was used. Colin also fondly remembers the North West premiere of the new version of The Pirates of Penzance in 1984. However. amateur theatre would not be amateur theatre without the real-life dramas off stage, too. Soon after Colin joined the Society. the theatre was put on the market by the owners for £2,500 and warehousing was planned for the site. ‘The building was in a terrible state 60 years ago. We asked Sheffield Cinema Company, who owned the building, to grant us a lease, which they did. We had a great community spirit and there were many young actors who wanted the theatre to continue. Volunteers worked seven days a week for 10 weeks. painting the theatre with paint donated locally, replacing worn out seats with those from a closed theatre in Salford and curtains from the closed Gaiety in Manchester. We were so proud of our work. As an electrician, Colin was too modest to mention his electrical work. The theatre was finally made ready for the production of The Scandalous Affair of Mr Kettle and Mrs Moon in September 1959. There were then problems at the end of the lease. The theatre organised a ‘Buy a Brick’ initiative to raise funds to buy the theatre and, literally, at the end of Perchance to Dream in 1966 members of the audience pledged the final few pounds meaning the theatre could

be purchased outright for £3,900. There have been several major refurbishments over the decades. This year’s huge refurbishment including the installation of gold seats donated by the Andrew Lloyd Webber-owned Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. “The theatre is fantastic now with a lovely blend of styles, thanks to the tremendous work from volunteers. Colin said and we are now planning to make improvements to the stage and bar area. Colin, who has two children and four grandchildren, and is President of NMAODS and chairman emeritus of New Mills Art Theatre Limited. Added, “I’m very proud of the not-for-profit theatre serving the community at no cost to them. There are far more leisure time attractions these days but I feel there is increasing interest in theatre in New Mills, and having a wonderful building helps”. Theatre Director, Beverley Eaves was full of praise for Colin: “I first acted wsith Colin when I played on of the children in “The King and I”. He’s a mentor to us all with so much knowledge and welcoming to everyone. He keeps us all going. We’re fortunate to have Colin at the theatre: he’s part of the fixtures and fittings!” But the last word goes to Colin made an appeal for more volunteers to support the theatre into the 2020s by helping with behind the scenes work John Pasiecznik - High Peak Review October 2019

- 11 -

Made with FlippingBook - professional solution for displaying marketing and sales documents online