Drama fraternity and VIPs turn out to celebrate Oldbury Rep's 75th birthday

Happy birthday! Annie Harris, who played Queen Mary, Deputy Mayor Cllr Barbara Price,  Oldbury Rep chairman Doreen Bastable, Mayor of Sandwell Cllr. Linda Horton, Andy Butterworth, who played Edward VIII and Paul Spilsbury (George VI).

Happy birthday! Annie Harris, who played Queen Mary, Deputy Mayor Cllr Barbara Price, Oldbury Rep chairman Doreen Bastable, Mayor of Sandwell Cllr. Linda Horton, Andy Butterworth, who played Edward VIII and Paul Spilsbury (George VI).

First published in News

A GALA performance of the play Crown Matrimonial was held to mark the 75th anniversary season at The Oldbury Rep.

Former actors, actresses, directors, crew members, dignitaries and theatre folk from across the West Midlands descended on the Barlow Theatre to celebrate the continued success of The Rep.

At the event last Wednesday a specially made anniversary mirror was also unveiled at the theatre in memory of life long member Dr Edith Carter who died last year.

The amateur theatre, which receives no public funding, started when budding thespian Will Payne replaced the teacher of the Oldbury Technical School elocution class in 1939 due to the impending war.

The class of actors changed their name to Oldbury Technical School Players and performed plays for the local community despite air raids disrupting rehearsals and performances.

They outgrew their home at The Parish Rooms and local benefactor and councillor Charles Barlow and his wife Jessie bought a lease on Institute Hall, Langley.

Then when Spring Street Methodist Church and School went up for sale the company bought the property after a £1,700 interest free loan from Cllr Barlow who was then the companies president. The Barlow Theatre opened its doors with a triple bill of one act plays in 1956.

The anniversary play, written by Royce Royton, is based on the family traumas and betrayals which beset Edward VIII before his abdication.

Theatre publicity officer Alan Wood said: "Crown Matrimonial was attended by Sandwell’s Mayor Councillor Linda Horton, Deputy Mayor Cllr Barbara Price, invited guests from local business and the community who have had a special connection with the theatre and representatives from Little Theatre Guild theatres in the West Midlands.

He added: "The performance was followed by a reception and the unveiling of a special Anniversary Mirror in memory of life-long ORP supporter Dr Edith Carter who sadly passed away last year.

"The mirror, located in the theatre’s bar, was unveiled by Dr. Carter’s daughters Christine Mason and Patti Simonson."

The Rep’s next production is Noel Coward’s This Happy Breed, the story of the Gibbon’s family and their lives between the two great wars, and will start on May 10.

For more information phone 0121 552 2761 or visit www.oldburyrep.org.

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