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Altrincham Garrick celebrates centenary - with an old friend
AS Altrincham Garrick prepares to celebrate its centenary, what better time for the theatre to invite an “old friend” to join in the celebrations.
Ronald Gow was a founder member of the group which met for the first time minus a name in November 1913 and in January next year, 100 years after the society adopted its current name, they’ll be reviving Gow’s classic play, Love On The Dole.
Other famous names to have been associated with the theatre include Paula Wilcox, Paula Tilbrook of Emmerdale fame and Charles Foster, the Granada TV continuity announcer with the unmistakable, dulcet tones. Peter Dudley, Coronation Street’s Bert Tilsley, is also among the big names to have acted here.
Gareth Gwenlan, the producer behind seminal British sitcoms like Only Fools and Horses was artistic director in the mid-1960s.
Theatre manager Nev Roby joined the Garrick as a teenager in the 1950s and said the theatre’s long life lies in the fact it has consistently served up the type of entertainment audiences want.
He said: “At all times we’re trying to provide quality theatre and hopefully keeping up with the trends and the times and what people want. Over the years we’ve become renowned for quality theatre.”
Before becoming a theatre critic I had my own preconceptions of what amateur theatre was like - but these preconceptions were dispelled once I watched my first Garrick production and I’ve been consistently impressed by the high artistic standards consistently achieved at the Barrington Road playhouse.
Looking towards the future, Nev said he’s particularly excited about the prospect of seeing the Garrick appoint an artistic director - a post that hasn’t been filled for many years.
“We are looking into having an artistic director of some calibre coming here and if that’s the case it’s going to be extremely exciting. We’ve had artistic directors in the past and they bring something very, very special. If we can provide that for the future we’ll continue to get the support of the local community and beyond.”
He said the artistic director with have a busy workload with tasks ranging from casting to helping design sets part of his or her remit.
Volunteers are the life blood of the society and Jeannie Honeyman, the theatre’s archivist, said people who join the Garrick and become active members will soon feel part of a friendly and very supportive theatre family.
She said: “When my husband died i could come here at any time and know that there would be somebody supporting me. Some people come and see plays and that’s fine but if you do become an active member we’re like a family.”
* Anyone interested in finding out more about Altrincham Garrick’s centenary season call 0161 928 1677 or visit altrinchamgarrick.co.uk.
Do you remember watching Paula Wilcox or Paula Tilbrook act at the Garrick, or did you ever bump into Gareth Gwenlan in the theatre foyer? Send your memories and photos to Rick Bowen, Messenger, 7 Crossford Court, Dane Road, Sale, M33 7BZ or email email@example.com.
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