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The official Newsletter of The Derby Players of Ormskirk

Issue No 14    February 2010




For a relatively small Society the Derby Players pack an awful lot in! Plays, Panto’s, Murder Mystery Nights; you name it, we do it!

What a great and rewarding pastime it is BUT (there’s always a BUT isn’t there?) What does the future hold?

Like most societies these days we need to actively seek new members or at the very least encourage interest in the workings of the society. Sounds easy I know!

Some societies advertise for new members by placing posters in Supermarkets etc., and I have found some that arrange ‘Open Days’ to give people a taste of what’s on offer.

What do you think?



The play is now cast and rehearsals are well under way and already proving a ‘hoot’
For those of you who don’t know, the cast is as follows…


Mildred                                                      Kate Ratoff

Dorothy                                                     Jenny Brocken

Margaret                                                    Carol Kennedy

Colonel Craddock                                         Malcolm Thompson

Elizabeth                                                   Jacqui Padden

Bunting                                                      Kevin Green

Pierre                                                        Chris Snape

P.C. Thomkins                                             Adam Brown

Inspector Pratt                                            Neil Williams

Mrs Maple                                                  Ann Todd







Following on from last year’s successful social events at least two new events are mooted for this season.

Jacqui Padden has volunteered to run a ‘QUIZ NITE’ and I have offered to organize a ‘WALKING TREASURE HUNT’

Dates and venues will be announced later so keep your ears and eyes open!

I think it is important for the Society to maintain a ‘social calendar’ so please support the organizers in taking part.




O.K. I know it’s only February so what are we doing talking about the Autumn production? Well, we do like to keep you informed!

The week commencing Sunday October 17th is the time earmarked for this production so please make a note in your diaries.

Neil has offered to direct the play but no firm decision on which play it will be has yet been made. Again, ‘watch this space’



Hang on!  We haven’t even got Murdered to Death out of the way   never mind the Autumn production so what’s this about 2011?

 Don’t panic, it’s just another note for your diaries! Thankfully, unlike this year, Panto week 2011 runs from the 9th to the 16th of January.

It has been suggested that the Society might consider another type of ‘seasonal’ show rather than a Pantomime just to ring the changes so to speak. I think it’s still up for discussion so we’ll just have to await further developments.



Being a relative newcomer to the Derby Players (8 years or so) I know little about the history of the Society and wonder if any of the longer serving members have any memorabilia available that could be used to compile an archive record.

It’s just a thought but I’d be willing to undertake the project if interest is shown. I look forward to hearing from you!

Issue No 13    January 2010




          Well, there it was gone; another Panto done and dusted. Congratulations to all concerned considering some of the difficulties encountered along the way!

I gather that the lack of ‘bums on seats’ wasn’t all down to the snow and icy conditions but to the eternal problem of ticket sales (or lack of). We really must try harder!

Talking about Panto, I read two very interesting and pertinent articles in the ‘AS Magazine’ (The independent magazine for Community Theatre) from which I quote the following. I’m sure the writers won’t mind me ‘spreading the word’ as they are obviously very keen on preserving the Panto tradition.


The first article was penned by Mark Thorburn

          “Pantomime should have everything! Throw it together, because it’s only a Panto and you have virtually nothing. How many terrible Pantomimes have you sat through thinking that it’s OK because the children don’t know any better? But hang on a minute! Pantomime should be a magical first theatre-going experience for the younger members of the family accompanied by each of the older generations. A family experience. .So you must do your very best for each of the generations.
You need a strong captivating story told in full from beginning to end in a tight script which does not disappear somewhere between the opening number and the songsheet.
The performance should have fun for all age groups with knockabout and participation for the youngsters and humour to tickle the funny bones of the adults as opposed to adult humour.
Whatever the story, it must have sad bits, exciting bits, special effects, colourful costumes, modern bright sets,. whacky props, sincere and truthful performances from all the cast”

Ed:     How very, very true! And it’s nice to know that the Derby Players are playing a part in preserving the tradition.

The second article by John Crocker, from which I quote, is particularly apt following our very own Jack and the Beanstalk.

 “In pantomime not only is the story very important, so is the style of playing. It must be very sincere, never cynical. In the scene in Jack and The Beanstalk where the cow has to be sold because they are so poor, you have what could be construed as a ridiculous situation, because you have a cow, which is two people in an animal skin, being led away by a nubile young woman, who is a boy, being waved goodbye-to by an old woman, who is a man! Absurd, but do it sincerely and you will practically reduce the audience to tears, because you have achieved the suspension of disbelief, the real magic of theatre”                                               




So, here we go again, upward and onward to our next production.

The chosen play ‘MURDERED TO DEATH’ by Peter Gordon is perfectly suited for the Derby Players

This hilarious ‘Agatha Christie’ spoof is set in a country manor house in the 1930’s, with a cast of well drawn characters guaranteed to tickle anyone’s funny bone

I am really looking forward to directing this play and have no doubt that the chosen cast will ‘slay’ the audience.

Inevitably, there are always some members who are disappointed in not getting parts and I can assure you that no director ever relishes reading out his or her chosen cast. In many ways it’s a ‘no win’ situation.

On the casting of Murdered to Death three members who did not get parts immediately offered their services for backstage roles and are to be commended for showing ‘true spirit’ in the interests of the Society. I have the highest regard therefore for Bryan (Stage Manager) ~ Jane (Prompter) and Alex (Properties)

I’ve no doubt that Bryan will welcome offers for help backstage and. of course, we still require a Front of House Manager so it’s ‘over to you folks!’

Stage Manager:                       Overall responsibility for backstage matters 

Backstage crew:                      Moving furniture and/or props at appropriate times during                                                               performance and generally assisting the Stage Manager/Actors as                                                   required

Front of House Manager:         Overall responsibilities for Front of House including Ticket sales,                                                        Programme sales, seating allocation, Interval refreshments, Safety                                                 and Security, Raffles, General help and information for audience                                                        members

Prompter:                                To regularly attend rehearsals paying particular attention to each                                                  actors style and delivery of lines including dramatic pauses etc., and                                                to generally advise the actors over lines which they appear to be                                                     having difficulties with or are subject to paraphrasing

                                                This is a much underrated and often misunderstood  role but one                                                      which is vitally important for the actors wellbeing and comfort. If taken                                                  seriously it can prove quite a rewarding experience

Properties coordinator:           Responsible for ensuring that all props required for the production                                                  are available. Also responsible to ensure that each actor uses the                                                    right prop(s) at any given point in a performance



Only three entrants to the Christmas Quiz I’m afraid but a high standard of answers.

The ‘Edge’ Family scored 15 out of 16 as did Jenny Brocken but plaudits must go to ‘Mr Google’ alias Kevin who scored a maximum. Many thanks for taking part!


best wishes


Issue  No 12  Nov/Dec 2009



Ho Ho Ho! And a Very Merry Christmas to you all! Oh! I nearly forgot; A Happy New Year as well.

I believe you’ve had a very successful season with your plays and things so keep up the good work!

We don’t want too much chat about Society news in this edition do we?

Of course we don’t, it’s nearly Christmas! So let’s concentrate on ‘Christmassy’ things.

I was most upset the other day when I overheard someone say that Father Christmas (me) couldn’t possibly be a man! Below are the ridiculous reasons put forward for the suggestion? I’ll leave you to decide


  1. Men can’t pack a bag
  2. Men would rather be dead than caught wearing red velvet
  3. Men would feel their masculinity is threatened having to be seen with all those elves
  4. Men would refuse to allow their physique to be described even in jest as anything remotely resembling a ‘bowlful of jelly’
  5. Men aren’t interested in stockings unless somebody’s wearing them
  6. Having to do the ‘Ho Ho Ho’ thing would seriously inhibit their ability to pick up women
  7. A man couldn’t possibly control a pack of reindeers, slide down chimneys, deliver gifts all across the world and eat mince pies and sup a glass of sherry left by some poor unsuspecting kid or appear in department store grottos because a man can’t multi-task
  8. Finally, being responsible for Christmas would require a commitment


And now see overleaf for my fantastic Christmas Quiz. Simply write your answers under the questions add your name at the bottom of the page and pass same to Peter. A prize will be awarded to the person with the most correct answers and, of course, his or her name will appear in print in the next issue!.



1. Which English actor starred in "the Muppet Christmas carol"?

2. Where was it always winter but never Christmas?

3. According to folklore a windy Christmas means _____, what?

4. Bill & Hilary Clinton switched on the Christmas tree lights in Belfast in 1990, 1995 or 1996

5. What’s the Christian penitential season from end of November to Christmas?

6. When Saigon fell, the signal for all Americans to evacuate was what song by Bing Crosby being played on the radio?

7. Which book begins "Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without any presents"?

8. Which song was a UK Christmas no. 1 in 1995 for Michael Jackson?

9. Who wrote the Christmas story, "a visit from St Nicholas"?

10. What is the birthstone colour of someone born on Christmas day?

11. What famous comedian died at Christmas in 1977?

12. Which was the first animated peanuts TV special?

13. What Dr Seuss character steals Christmas

14. In 'a Christmas carol', how many ghosts visited scrooge?

15. The last descendant of what musical family died on Christmas day 1845?

16. While experimenting with speeding up a tape, David Seville created three voice characters and released a Christmas song in 1958. Which nutty group was this?  


Issue No 10   October 2009



Well it’s ‘Goodbye Goodbye to ‘Allo ‘Allo and what a great success it was! Director Malcolm is to be congratulated on a fine production

And what a boost it was to have ‘Sold Out’ notices and for the Friday night audience shouting for ‘more’ at the final curtain.

One thing that can be said about the Derby Players is that all of our productions are born of team work and once again this was shown in abundance both at rehearsals, in performance and particularly so on the Sunday ‘get in’ at the Civic Hall

Despite early (and 11th hour) ‘shuffling of parts’, due to unforeseen circumstances, the cast came through with some excellent characterisations and thoroughly deserved the appreciation shown by the audiences.

Generally speaking, this type of play i.e. (a spin-off from a popular televised series) always runs the risk of unfavourable comparisons with the original characters. That was never a problem with this production however as the whole cast came up with the goods

The Society deserves to pat itself on the back for rising to the challenge.




And so onto the Panto and shuffling of the pack once again alas. Unfortunately Rob found that a prior commitment ruled him out of playing the part of Jack so it was necessary to think again! Hopefully that is now sorted and we can get down to serious rehearsal.

With roughly 8 weeks only available for rehearsals, I’m sure you will agree that hard work and commitment are of paramount importance.


Kevin continues to provide interesting statistics from ‘hits’ on the Derby Players Website. For instance we’ve had visits from such diverse places as India, Brazil, Norway and even Serbia.

In September there were 107 ‘hits’ the top City being London with 24 and amongst the 107 were 7 on the same day from Baruen (a suburb of Sao Paulo) The mind boggles!




          I’m really looking forward to directing the Spring 2010 production and several plays are up for consideration.

I have no preferences to put forward yet but can tell you that I’m currently looking at the following comedies: ~


BREEZE BLOCK PARK                     Male 5 Female 4       by Willy Russell

MURDERED TO DEATH                   Male 5 Female 4       by Peter Gordon

OUT OF FOCUS                            Male 4 Female 5       by Peter Gordon

SECONDARY CAUSE OF DEATH        Male 3 Female 6.      by Peter Gordon


Willy Russell’s plays speak for themselves and those of you who recall Peter Gordon’s 3rd WEEK IN AUGUST which we performed a few years ago will know just how funny and entertaining his plays are.

So watch this space….

I must stress that this is by no means a final list and other plays may also be put forward before a final decision is made.




I went to a dinner party last night, where I and other guests enjoyed copious amounts of alcohol.
I awoke this morning not feeling well, with what could be described as flu-like symptoms; headache, nausea, chills, sore eyes, etc.
From the results of some initial testing, I have unfortunately tested positive for what experts are now calling Wine Flu.
This debilitating condition is very serious - and it appears this is not an isolated case.
Reports are flooding in from all around the country of others diagnosed with Wine Flu. To anyone that starts to exhibit the aforementioned tell-tale signs experts are recommending a cup of tea and a bit of a lie down.
However, should your condition worsen, you should immediately hire a DVD and take some Nurofen (Nurofen seems to be the only drug available that has been proven to help combat this unusual type of flu).  Others are reporting a McDonald's Happy Meal can also help in some cases.  If not, then further application of the original liquid, in similar quantities to the original dose, has been shown to do the trick.    
Wine Flu does not need to be life threatening and, if treated early, can be eradicated within a 24-48 hour period.

Issue No 9    September 2009



Almost the end of September already? It must be, because I’ve just seen the first Christmas commercial on T.V.! It’s a sad old world isn’t it?


As most of you may already know, ‘Caz’ Barnes (Helga in ‘Allo ‘Allo) was the victim recently of a hit and run driver in Old Skelmersdale and has spent some time in Southport Hospital recovering from her injuries.

Knowing Caz, with her fighting spirit, I’m sure she’ll make a good recovery and it goes without saying that we all send her our very best wishes. It could, of course, have been so much worse and one can only hope that the despicable person responsible will soon be brought to justice.


The Caz situation has led to some slight disruption at rehearsals but Jackie Mercer has agreed to ‘stand in’ for the part of Helga on the understanding that she will drop out if and when Caz is sufficiently recovered and able to resume.

Apart from that rehearsals are proceeding nicely and characterisations are developing really well.


 The last word on Carpe goes to NODA Representative David Parkes and for those who haven’t already seen his review, read on……..(I’ve cut out his preamble regarding Terry Pratchett’s imagination)

“The direction and the performances of the cast were first class with the witches portrayed by Kate Ratoff as Granny Weatherwax, Caz Barnes as Nanny Ogg and Sarah LeMesurier as Agnes Nitt, with Eileen Woolacott as her thin inner being, Perdita X Nitt.

The vampires were led by Neil Williams as the Count. Carol Kennedy as the Countess, Bryan Malcolm as the young Vlad, Jane Edge as Lacrimosa and Chris Snape as Krimson, with scene stealing appearances by Kevin Green as the hideous old retainer, Igor. The director is to be congratulated on recruiting the large cast of supporting characters necessary to the plot. He can be forgiven for not being able to cast the two hundred wee Nac Mac Feegles (6” high red headed Scotsmen) who appear in the original book.

The downside to the adaptation is that there is just too much of it.

Although the production moved at a good pace on a well designed set, the seventeen scenes of Act One lasted one and three quarter hours.

During the fifteen minute interval I was regaled by a real live wizard proudly wearing a pendant bearing the replica of the tail feathers of three magpies and cufflinks in the shape of wee Scotsmen.

By the time the curtain fell on the thirteen scenes of Act Two at 10.45pm I’m afraid that Carpe Jugulum had become Carpe Posterium and it did not achieve the published billing of hilarious comedy”.


Ed:     I don’t know what you feel but I do wish that NODA reps would spend more time commenting on individual performances and production and offering criticism (constructive or otherwise) instead of giving us loads of unnecessary waffle.

          For instance, did we really want to hear of the ‘real live wizard’ with cufflinks in the shape of wee Scotsmen’? Or, as in the case of the Panto review, that audience members were observed taking photographs? (Shock, horror!)

          Merely droning out a list showing which member played which character is something we already know! (Although in this case he actually missed Jackie Mercer out! Naughty reviewer!)

 I stress that this is only my opinion and you may or may not agree. It would be interesting to hear your thoughts though.

Drop me a line….



Perhaps we should send NODA our review of their reviewers, (constructive criticism of course) mm… that’s quite a thought!

Issue No 8    August 2009



           Congratulations to The Derby Players for scooping the NODA award for best Panto? Wind in the Willows.

          I don’t know who won the best actor award but he must have been pretty darn good to oust Malcolm for his portrayal of Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman. There ain’t no justice!

Ah well, there’s always next time….and so onto current matters.



          Now fully cast and with rehearsals underway this really does promise to be a ‘hoot’ both for cast and audience alike.

          With director Malcolm’s attention to detail (even to projecting the financial outcome) and his research into costume sources nothing is being left to chance and he deserves our full support. I will say this only once!.



          It’s no bad thing to be so well prepared in advance and the cast is already waiting on the starting blocks to commence rehearsals after ‘Allo ‘Allo. 


 Don’t forget the Theatre visit to the Playhouse Liverpool on October 31st. Have you contacted Carol regarding tickets yet?


           I appreciate that the following may not specifically affect the Derby Players but may be of interest to any member involved in musical entertainment outside of the Society..

           Under Government proposals regarding the Licensing Act, a performance by one musician in a bar, restaurant, school or hospital not licensed for live music could lead to a criminal prosecution of those organising the event.

Even a piano may count as a licensable 'entertainment facility'. By contrast, amplified big screen broadcast entertainment is exempt. The government says the Act is necessary to control noise nuisance, crime, disorder and public safety, even though other laws already deal with those risks.

          Musicians warned the Act would harm small events. About 50% of bars and 75% of restaurants have no live music permission.

          In May, the Culture, Media and Sport Committee recommended exemptions for venues up to 200 capacity and for unamplified performance by one or two musicians.

          The government said no. But those exemptions would restore some fairness in the regulation of live music and encourage grassroots venues”

          The laughable part of the proposal is the assertion that the Act is necessary to curb noise nuisance, crime, disorder and public safety and so amplified big screen broadcasts are exempt!! Have the proposers of the Act ever walked past a pub when there is a football match on or a Karaoke session under way?

          As a rider to the above, my friend John Parry and I have recently undertaken to provide entertainment for elderly persons at afternoon sessions in local day centres. Our programme, with acoustic guitars, consists of  a few songs, anecdotes and lots of laughs. Obtaining permission for the mildest live music remains costly and time-consuming
and under the above proposals these and presumably many other day centres etc., would be denied an occasional hour or so of simple innocent fun

          I rest my case except to say that the LibDem Party have also proposed a Live Music Bill, which will exempt  venues with a capacity of less than 200 from music licensing, exempt performances by two musicians or less and ban the Form 696.

(Sorry, I don’t know what form 696 is) The Bill has passed its first reading and will be debated later this year.

          The reason I have included the above in this issue of Spotlight is not that I have any political leanings (just the opposite in fact) but if the proposal is adopted in its original form where will it end? Just imagine in the future under a possible ‘Choice of Play Act’ we would not be able to pick plays which poke fun at the Germans and it would be G’bye G’bye to ‘Allo ‘Allo

           If you feel strongly on the subject you may like to join the many thousands of others who have signed a petition in support of the proposed amendments and you can do so at the following link

  http://petitions. number10. events/

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