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Letchworth Arcadians is one of the premiere amateur operatic societies in the East of England.
27th November 2020

Latest Newsletter from Letchworth Arcadians

Issue 106                                                                                                                             December 2016

From the Chairman’s Cupboard

Well the nights are certainly drawing in and there is a definite nip in the air! That can only mean one thing … Arcadians Christmas Concert is just around the corner!

Thank you to all of you who came along and took part in or supported our production of Thoroughly Modern Millie. It was a wonderful show to watch and really demonstrated how successful we are in growing our own talent. So many of our lead roles and company members had come through the ranks of Young Arcadians – or Junior Theatre Club in the ‘old days’ and were now taking their rightful place in the principal line up of the Senior Society. Lucy Walker was wonderful in the eponymous role and carried the show with confidence and elegance! She was ably supported by Simon Latter as Jimmy and Brett Sayer as Mr Graydon. All Young Arcadians in their own time!

As we move through November it is great to be able to think ahead and know that we have a few things already planned in the Arcadians’ Calendar. It was equally great at the end of Thoroughly Modern Millie to be able to hand out flyers for our next 3 events: A Musical Christmas, Little Shop of Horrors by The Young Arcadians and Calamity Jane for the Seniors. It looks like we are starting to get a recognised programme in place.

However, the committee have made the decision that we will only be producing one major show in 2017. We have struggled to sell tickets for the last few shows so think it would be better to limit the number of shows we try to sell! We are presenting Calamity Jane at St Christopher’s Theatre from 31st May – 2nd June. We will then have a break from rehearsing to allow time for some social events, fund raisers and workshops. We would then like to present a larger scale concert towards the end of November/beginning of December which will be rehearsed from September onwards.

I would be interested to know your thoughts on this so please feel free to contact me on robandmare@sky.com

We have spent time analysing our ticket sales and discussing ways to make booking tickets easier and I am delighted to tell you all that for both Little Shop of Horrors and Calamity Jane we have introduced online booking through Ticket Source. This allows you to book tickets for both shows at www.ticketsource.co.uk/letchworth-arcadians We will still have the telephone line 07511 519387 where you will be able to book tickets in the normal way for those who do not have access to online booking. I have to thank Russell Wilkinson for his determination to find a way to make this work and for moving Arcadians into the 21st Century!

Seasons Greetings,

Mary Driver


Current Production

Rehearsals are underway for our Musical Christmas to be presented at St Paul’s Church, Letchworth on Thursday 15th & Friday 16th December at 7.30pm.

To book tickets, phone Jan Milton on 07511 519387

Young Arcadians

Auditions were held in July and we would like to welcome the following new members:

Freya Cocks, Izzy Everitt, Katherine Gendron, Robert Gendron, Julia Haak, Rose Holmes,

Jude Hurn, Georgia Huxley, Shay Lowden

Our next production: 

Little Shop of Horrors is a charming, kooky and hilarious 1950s musical.

Seymour Krelborn, the assistant at Mushnik's Flower Shop in downtrodden Skid Row, becomes an overnight sensation when he discovers a strange and exotic plant. He names it Audrey Two in order to impress glamorous Audrey, the colleague he’s secretly in love with.

Audrey Two quickly starts to wilt, putting Seymour’s job and dream future with Audrey at risk. Accidentally pricking his finger, Seymour discovers Audrey Two needs a little more than plant food to thrive. The plant grows into a bad-tempered, foul-mouthed carnivore whose voracious appetite becomes increasingly difficult to satisfy. How far will Seymour go for the woman of his dreams? With music by the legendary Alan Menken, best known for his numerous Walt Disney film scores, Little Shop of Horrors is a cult film and one of the longest running off-Broadway shows of all time.

Production Team:

Director – David Walker

Musical Director – Heather Kynnersley

Choreographers – Lucy Walker & Emily Vivian

Cast List:

Seymour       ​            Freddy Goldscheider

Audrey ​                     Charlotte Fowden

Mr Mushnik              Daniel Barnicott

Orin the Dentist       Fred McConnell Smith

Audrey 2 ​​                  Ellis Jackson

Skidettes        ​          Liberty Davies

Cerys Gregory         

Laura Gregory

Keira Harris

Hollie Jackson

Neve Murdoch

Skip ​​​                           Dan Townsend

Bernstein ​                 Thomas Williams

Patrick Martin         Alex Ealham

Mrs Luce ​​                  Izzy Everitt

Booking is open now!  Visit www.ticketsource.co.uk/letchworth-arcadians or call 07511 519387

Gilly Nott

Membership/Production Secretary


Social events

'Carols, Cards & Mince Pies'

We would like to invite all of our members to join in the festivities and come along to the mission to sing, socialise and have a taste of Christmas! This is the perfect opportunity to wish everyone well before the jolly holidays, share our Christmas cards and sing some of our favourite carols.

The evening will take place on Tuesday 20th December from 8pm. We would be very grateful if you could bring along a box of mince pies (other festive treats welcome) but most importantly, we hope to see you there!

Seasons Greetings,

The Letchworth Arcadians Committee.


Now in its sixth year!

We shall be celebrating Burns Night on Friday 27th January 2017 at Baldock United Reformed Church from 7.30 pm

£15 a ticket

The social committee are planning a dinner dance for later in 2017 to celebrate our 65th year. Details will follow in the next newsletter.

If you have any ideas for a social event, please let the committee know.

 Dennis Rusted

Social Committee

Future Productions

Deadwood City's two most famous peace officers, Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickock, get involved in saving the neck of Henry Miller, the local saloon owner. It seems that "Millie" has been promoting a beautiful actress named Frances Fryer, but Frances turns out to be a man, Francis. Millie's attempt to cover up is soon unmasked by the angry townsfolk, and only Calamity can cool the crowd with her trusty pistols.

To keep the peace, Calamity sets out for Chicago to bring back the cowboy's real heart-throb, Adelaide Adams. In Chicago Calamity mistakes Adelaide's maid, Katie Brown, for the actress and takes her back to Deadwood. Onstage Katie is greeted warmly, but breaks down and confesses that she is not the famous star. Calamity once more has to restore order and persuades the audience to give Katie a chance. They do, and she wins the heart of every male in town including Calamity's dashing love hope, Lt. Danny Gilmartin. Calamity reluctantly overcomes her jealousy over losing Danny and discovers her true love for Wild Bill.

Songs include:

·         The Deadwood Stage

·         Careless With the Truth 

·         Adelaide

·         Everyone Complains About the Weather

·         A Hive Full of Honey

·         I Can Do Without You

·         It's Harry I'm Planning to Marry

·         Windy City

·         Keep it Under Your Hat

·         A Woman's Touch

·         Higher Than a Hawk

·         The Black Hills of Dakota

·         Love You Dearly 

·         Secret Love 

Dates for your diary:

Tuesday 10th January 2017          Calamity Jane Introductory Evening 

Thursday 12th January 2017        Audition Prep

Tuesday 17th January 2017           Audition Prep

Thursday 19th January 2017        Auditions 

Karl Toombs

Production Secretary


We were saddened to learn of the death of Pat Richardson.

Pat’s first association with Letchworth Arcadians was in 1957 when she successfully passed her audition to join the chorus for the operetta Veronique.  This was performed in St. Francis College Theatre in Letchworth.  We all know Pat had a very strong speaking voice and could be heard from many a mile, but she also had a strong alto voice.

She must have enjoyed her first experience with the Society, because the following year she returned to be in the chorus for The Mikado. This was to be the start of a long and happy relationship with the Society.  Shows such as White Horse Inn, Desert Song, New Moon, all benefitted, by having a strong alto line, ably led by Pat.

More shows followed, such as Show Boat, where Pat was a dancer, Good Night Vienna, and Gypsy Princess, where Pat played the part of Princess Karen.  The following year, 1969, Pat appeared as a formidable Mrs. Pearce, in My Fair Lady. In 1971, after appearing in the chorus of La Belle Helene, Pat decided to stop treading the boards.  She had always said that all performers are “over the hill” at the age of 40 and that she would retire when she reached this magical number. (I can think of quite a few members who did not go along with Pat’s philosophy)  However, she managed to keep going and finally retired from the stage at the ripe old age of 44. She had performed in 15 stage shows and several Music Hall concerts.

 After that, she would often sit on auditioning panels, and when a female came along, regardless of how good she was, Pat would say in her loudest whisper to the rest of the panel, “She’s far too old” even if the poor girl was only just over 40.

Pat was elected to the General Committee in 1967 and became Business Manager in 1972. With Bob Smith as chairman, and Barbara Cole as General Secretary, they were known as the “formidable three”. They used to scare the living daylights out of us.

Pat also produced the Newsletter, with the aid of an old Roneo–Gestetner machine, getting absolutely covered in fluid.

She eventually became Head of Catering, i.e. Tea Lady and held this most important position right up until her health started to fail. She nearly caused a revolution within the members’ ranks when, after several years, she decided the nominal charge for a cup of tea would have to go up. There was a bitter outcry, so in the end Pat met the Company half way, put the price up, but included a biscuit.

In 1978, The Arcadians performed Camelot in its new venue, The Gordon Craig Theatre. There were strict rules regarding not allowing “strangers” into the dress rehearsal. Pat, as Business Manager, was strict in applying this rule.

However, there was a “Stranger” in the theatre during the dress rehearsal and Pat was heard in her loud booming voice telling this guy, who was not a member of the cast, that he should leave the theatre immediately.  As it turned out, unbeknown to Pat, this guy was the Gordon Craig Theatre Manager, and he told Pat in not so many words to get lost as he had more right to be in the theatre than she did...I have never seen Pat so lost for words as she was then.

The Society was nearly thrown out before they had performed its first night.

As tea lady, Pat was a friend to everyone. However, on one occasion, during a rehearsal for The King and I, the Company was rehearsing the death scene, and Peter, the producer, had instilled complete silence during the important and moving dialogue between the principals. In fact, on this occasion, most of the Company, were moved and in tears. All of sudden the doors burst open, and Pat, in her loud voice shouted, “What time do you want tea?”  I won’t repeat what Peter said, but it wasn’t very complimentary. Pat spoke her mind and we would not have wanted it any other way.

Pat remained Business Manager until 1994 and became a Life Member, in 1996.

When ill health forced her to retire from the Kitchen, Pat remained a loyal supporter.

Pat was a formidable lady who will be sorely missed by The Arcadians.

Graham Albone


Belated congratulations to Lucy Walker on her engagement to Gary Edwards

To Sue and Cliff Pearce on celebrating their Ruby Wedding Anniversary

To Vivian Driver on her recent 80th Birthday

To Stephanie and Brian Seal on their forthcoming Silver Wedding Anniversary



We have accepted a few new members this year, and although a bit late in the day would like to welcome: Gina Abbatt, Isobel Bains, Katie Jones, Chris Blackham, Emily Woodhouse and Russell Wilkinson.  We hope that they will have a long and happy association with us.

Looking forward to the coming year, if anyone knows of someone interested in joining, please do contact me as we are always happy to see new members.

Jan Milton

Membership Secretary 

President’s Postscript

The old Chinese blessing – or is it a curse? – ‘May you live in interesting times’ has certainly been visited upon us this year! As we draw towards the end of the year with a sense of relief that it is almost over, we can at least be grateful for the opportunity our involvement in Arcadians’ activities has provided to distract us from the shocks and horrors that have been inflicted on us. At the same time we have provided some escapism for our audiences with high quality entertainment.

The year started with the ever-successful Burns’ Night follow by our talented Young Arcadians’ production of Beauty and the Beast. Then came one of the 20th century’s ground-breaking musicals, Oklahoma! followed by the thoroughly marvellous Millie.

And still to come is A Musical Christmas at St Paul’s church on the 15th and 16th December, with a programme of sacred and satirical songs celebrating the festive season. Be sure not to miss that.

Of course, this would not be possible without our very talented creative team who bring out the best in our performances and ensure technically slick productions.  Yes, we are blessed in being lifted out of the mire of the past year and can look forward to another year of theatrical success. It makes an old president proud!

Merry Christmas!

Roger Newman-Turner



If you have any suggestions or would like to contribute anything for our next newsletter, please email gilly.mac@hotmail.co.uk  

Gilly Mackilligan