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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 the Chairman’s Cupboard

The summer seems so long ago now and the temperature outside certainly indicates we are heading into Autumn. That means three things: Strictly Come Dancing, Downton Abbey and Arcadians’ Autumn Show!

But let us cast our minds back to the great things that have happened in the world of Arcadians since our last newsletter!

Our production of Fiddler on the Roof at St Christopher’s School Theatre was a virtual sell out and very well received by the audience. It was lovely to get back to performing a full musical again and everyone in the company embraced this new venue with enthusiasm and, as a result, the show was an aesthetic as well as a financial success. Thank you to everyone who played their part in this production.

June saw us returning to The Letchworth Festival where we celebrated the 50th Anniversary of The Sound of Music by taking part in the Festival Parade and having our stall of face painters. Even though the weather was not kind to us on the day, we engaged with lots of people, spreading the word of The Arcadians and hopefully recruiting a new audience!

As part of the festival we also held an open ‘Strictly Tap Night’ where Frances Aylin held two tap classes, one for beginners and one for the more advanced and we all learned a routine. It was well attended and everyone had a great night!

July sees our AGM and it is always good to see our loyal members and patrons supporting the work of the society; it is a shame that not more people come along to this event as it is where we lay our cards on the table and show our plans for the foreseeable future. The only way to have your say is to come along and be heard. Please think about it for next year!

At the AGM we announced that our Spring Show, to be performed at St Chris’ School Theatre in May, would be Oklahoma!. It will be directed by David Walker with Graham Albone as Musical Director. It was also at the AGM where we discussed having a new noticeboard - ‘Bob’s Board’ in memory of Bob Smith, our former Chairman and President.

And now we start looking forward: We are all looking forward to presenting An Evening of Rodgers and Hammerstein Classics at The Icknield Centre from 12th – 14th November 2015. There is more information about this as you read on through the newsletter.

This will be closely followed by Christmas with The Letchworth Arcadians at St Paul’s Church Letchworth on Friday 11th and Saturday 12th December 2015.

I would like to think that The Arcadians have turned a slight corner and we can start looking forward, but we still have a long way to go. We need the support of all our members and patrons to build up the infra-structure of our society.

I look forward to welcoming you all to the Icknield Centre, whether as a performer or as an audience member, for an evening of Rodgers and Hammerstein Classics!

Mary Driver



Spotlight on... Stephanie

It is clear that Stephanie gets a great deal of pleasure from her life on the musical stage. When I ask her what her favourite role is she replies, “There are so many!”

Among her favourites are Sally in Me and My Girl (2000), Ghost of Christmas Past in Scrooge-The Musical (2001), Tuptim in The King and I (1983 and 1996), and in her first show with Letchworth Arcadians, the name part in No, No, Nanette (1980). More recently, she chooses Ida (Mother Duck) in Honk! (2012)

It all began with the ballet lessons she had at the age of eight with Miss Crisp in Biggleswade. They also did song and dance classes and found she had a singing voice, a talent she put to good use in the end-of-year musical productions at Stratton School, alongside Mary Driver, (our chairman) a fellow pupil.  They performed a wide range of musicals, including Oklahoma!, The Gondoliers and Fiddler on the Roof.

At the age of 18 Stephanie started taking singing lessons but there was a slight hiatus in performing until her parents – who are still loyal patrons of Arcadians - spotted an advertisement in the local paper inviting potential new members to audition. She went along and the rest is part of the roll-call of fine singers who have helped to cement the reputation of Arcadians as one of the leading operatic societies in the region.  Shortly after this, Stephanie found a new singing teacher, Jennifer Dakin, a professor of vocal technique at the Royal Academy of Music, (who has coached several Arcadians’ principals) and has been with her for over thirty years now.

Stephanie has exercised her vocal talents outside Arcadians in guest appearances with other local societies and singing at weddings. When she is not occupied with the pressures of learning a role, she enjoys gardening and reading, especially American political thrillers. With her husband, Brian, whom she met when they were performing in Arcadians’ 1988 production of Show Boat, coastal walking in Pembrokeshire and travel in North America have been particular pleasures. Of course, like any performer, she needs to keep fit and does so with regular sessions at a gym when not tied up with rehearsals. They both enjoy professional productions of the major London shows but, since Brian has diversified from the gaiety of musicals to ‘straight’ theatre, Stephanie has found new pleasures in drama at the Queen Mother Theatre and in London. But her first love is performing and, being one of our more youthful ‘veterans’ (with a 30-year NODA medal), she has many more years of that to look forward to.

Roger Newman-Turner


Current Production

Letchworth Arcadians Present - An evening of Rodgers and Hammerstein Classics


This year marks the 50th anniversary of the release of the motion picture version of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic, The Sound of Music. The Letchworth Arcadians will present several of the unforgettable songs from that immortal show, along with favourites from Oklahoma, State Fair, South Pacific, The King and I, and Carousel, in an evening of Rodgers and Hammerstein Classics. We have an amazing cast and you can hear many classics including, It’s A Grand Night For Singing, We Kiss In A Shadow, June Is Bustin’ Out All Over, You’ll Never Walk Alone, There is Nothing Like A Dame, Climb Ev’ry Mountain, The Sound of Music, Oh What A Beautiful Mornin' and Oklahoma, to name a few. In fact, there will be 24 songs you will all know and love with many solos, duets and chorus numbers for you all to enjoy. If you would like to view all the other songs we are singing, then please go to our website www.letchworth-arcadians.co.uk


The production Team is David Walker - Director, Graham Albone - Musical Director, Frances Aylin – Choreographer.

This show will be performed at The Icknield Centre, Letchworth Garden City, SG6 1EF from Thursday 12th November - Saturday 14th November 2015 with three evening performances from 7:30pm and a Saturday Matinee at 2:30pm. This is a cabaret style table show so you can buy refreshments and, with a licenced bar, bring your drinks and food to your tables. These can all be purchased within the foyer area.


So don’t delay, get your tickets today from our box office. Please call Helen Saunders on 07511 519387. Tickets are £12 each for all performances.

Karl Toombs

Production Secretary


Young Arcadians

First of all I would like to wish Good Luck to those Members who have left us this year:

Elise Alexander, Sam Barrett, Emma Cole, Thomas Martin, Jessica Smith, Alfie Talks, Alice Turner. Thanks for the work you have done with YA, and I hope you will continue to support us and keep in touch with us.

I would also like to wish Good Luck to the members who have decided that they cannot appear in our 2016 production due to other commitments. These include Laura Gregory, Elena Hopkins, Ellis Jackson, Rebecca Wray.  We wish you well for your exams, sports and other activities you are doing. We hope we will see you back for our 2017 production.

But I’m glad to say that following our May auditions, we can welcome these new YA members:

Sunny Chapman, Freddy Goldschieders, Lorimer Jenkins, Georgie Paulus Nield, Madeleine Waite, Jacob Williams and Thomas Williams, (twins - so I hope we will be able to get the correct names when speaking to them!).

On the 12th September we began rehearsals for our 2016 Production, to be held at St. Christopher School Theatre from Wednesday 17th to Saturday 20th February.


And our show for this year will be:

Disney's Beauty and the Beast!

Auditions have been held recently – all our members are very excited about being in this production, and we do hope to see you all in February.

Flyer/Booking Forms for tickets will be available at rehearsals, and can also be emailed to you, or there will be a form included with this newsletter if it is posted to you.

Tickets are available now from our ticket secretary:


17 Bowmans Avenue, Hitchin, Herts, SG4 9QD

Telephone Number: 01462 453801

Please use the booking form to book your seats and send to the above address.  If you require your tickets to be posted to you, please include a stamped addressed envelope for the return of your tickets.

Gilly Nott

Membership/Production Secretary


Social events

Now in its fifth year!

We shall be celebrating BURNS NIGHT on Friday 29th January 2016 at Baldock United Reformed Church

£15 a ticket

Dennis Rusted

Social Committee



As you will all know, the annual membership subscriptions were due in July, and many thanks to all of you who remembered to pay on time.  Obviously, with the holiday period in full flow, it was easy to forget this annual payment and I have therefore tried to send out reminder emails to those who still haven't paid.  Thank you to those who immediately got back to me and paid direct.

Now we are back after our summer break to regular twice-weekly rehearsals, I would be very pleased to receive your money!  So this is a polite reminder that subs are £50 per year and if you are doing the R & H Production, the show fee is £35, to cover all music, insurance, refreshments etc.

I look forward to seeing you are rehearsals, or should you have any queries, please email me and I will do my best to help.

Jan Milton

Membership Secretary


Are you willing to become a member of our Volunteer Bank?

Sometimes there are occasions when we need to call on people to help in a small way for some of our productions or events.

We understand that people cannot commit to every event but I am sure you would be more than willing to help us out for the odd night if you are free!

We hope that by having a list of willing volunteers and by making a direct approach for a specific job, we will receive all the help we need!

Please add your name and number to the list of volunteers being collated by the committee. Your name, telephone number and email address will be kept confidential.

Please contact me on robandmare@sky.com

Thank you!


The following NODA awards were given out at our AGM in July in recognition of long service...

10 Year Pins:           Clare Bunyan & Geoff Downing

20 Year Pin:             Chris Green

35 Year Pins:           Stephanie Seal & Adele Walker

45 Year Pins:           Roger Newman Turner & Gilly Nott

Happy Birthday Peter!

On 15th September, our long time & much loved director Peter Davies, celebrated his 80th birthday.

Peter was on fine form for his birthday & enjoyed a wonderful evening celebrating with friends & family at Sopwell House, St Albans. Among the guests were some names you will know from past & present, Val Evans, Graham Albone & Colin Clarke, to name but a few.

Although Peter asked for no presents, a few of us got together & commissioned our very own talented Sian Spencer to create a portrait of Peter. See it below!


To Pat Badcock, one of our wonderful wardrobe ladies, on the recent loss of her husband, Tony.


President’s Postscript

Critical Massacre

Many years ago, the local newspapers used to publish a review of the major local amateur productions. They were often done by a staff reporter who probably knew more about football than the theatre but one or two had a dedicated theatre columnist who was more discerning. One such was Wendy Stevenson who wrote for The Comet and awarded, in print, her annual ‘Wendys’ for the best production, actor, actress, and director. Any reviews tended to be mostly favourable, as they did not want to lose their readers.

Now that we are spared any objective post-performance analysis, every production is regarded as a triumph, at least if you believe the in-house comments in newsletters and AGM reports, with any shortcomings of production or performance quietly glossed over.  I can honestly say, however, that Arcadians’ productions of the past few years have been genuinely deserving of praise, so it is a shame that the local press haven’t been present to make them more widely known to the public.

But what about the less favourable comments aimed at our professional colleagues on the stage?  They ranged from the benign –“It had only one fault. It was kind of lousy.” – to the distinctly barbed – “The audience would have booed and hissed after the first act, but you can’t do that and yawn at the same time.”

Groucho Marx once said after a visit to the theatre: “I didn’t like the play. But I saw it under unfavourable circumstances – the curtain was up.” Something akin to this was a case of damning with faint praise by a critic who wrote that “The scenery was excellent; the problem was that the actors kept standing in front of it.”

Of individual performances: “He makes his living from ham to mouth”, and “She ran the gamut of emotions from A to B” stand out. That last one was, I believe, attributed to Dorothy Parker who once said that on rising she cleans her teeth and sharpens her tongue.

But what to say to a dear friend who has just turned in a poor performance?  The best advice is: on entering the dressing room with arms outstretched, “Darling! What can one say?!” and quickly move on to enquire about the health of her family.

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



  • The wonderful picture of Peter drawn by Sian Spencer