Curtain Call

Wednesday, 22nd September 2004
Wild West Yorkshire nature diary

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Mother Superior

'How do we solve a problem like Maria?' asks the Mother Superior. With more nuns on stage here in the High School than there are these days at the House of Mercy at the other side of Carr Lodge Park this can mean only one thing: it's time for our local amateur dramatic society's annual musical extravaganza.

ticketThere's tremendous enthusiasm and, amazingly for a first night, it all goes without a hitch.


curtainsJohn Carr Curtains

Carr Lodge was once the home of one of the sons of John Carr (1723-1807), architect and sometime mayor of York. John Carr started out as a quarryman and mason here in Horbury and went on to design stately homes at Heath and Harewood. St Peter's Church Horbury was the architect's gift to his hometown. It is depicted on the stage curtains along with a portrait of the architect based on the 1791 painting by Sir William Beechey (now in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery).

The curtains were installed when the school was built in 1962. I've been told that the school buildings were designed to have life of 25 years: as the curtains, like the school, are now 34 years old it's not surprising that that they're looking a little ragged in places. The curtains have matured into a work of art and a piece of history in their own right; a real period piece.

MariaboyThe Sound of Music

I've attended 100 or more performances here over the years from Grammar School productions of Gilbert and Sullivan when the school still had a gloss of 1960s modernity, through Terence Rattigan and Noel Coward's performed by the Pageant Players in their four-dramas-a-year days and on to the colourful musical medlies and pantomimes produced by Pageant Players today in their all singing, all dancing guise.

Maria is 'going to the hills' while the young lovers are '16, going on 17.'

Elisa Dolittle

Mary Poppins

U.S. marine

Bloody Mary

This being a Pageant Player's production we expect more than just the greatest hits from The Sound of Music: a well cast Professor Henry Higgins starts the night off with perfect diction, the King of Siam's children cross the stage in dignified procession (one actor has made the sacrifice of having his head shaved for the title role) and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang! flies again.

They're a multi-talented lot. I assumed that the mask for the villain in the Siamese children's production of The Small House of Uncle Thomas was an original oriental devil's mask but it was made by Rita who appeared tonight as Bloody Mary in the compilation from South Pacific.


'I'm gonna wash that man right outa my hair!'

'The Small House of Uncle Thomas'

child girlHow can you follow that? I ask Wendy the producer what we'll be doing for the new year production. It looks like being Alice in Wonderland. I look forward to working on the sets for it: so many traditional pantomimes start in a village, go to the woods then end up in a palace.

Alice should make a change: in 37 years of painting sets for the society I've never worked on the production. But I had plenty of experience drawing rabbit holes when I worked on the cartoon film of Watership Down! Next Page

Richard Bell,

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