Stan­ley is VIP guest at lat­est the­atre show

Rossendale Free Press - - Your Views - Stu­[email protected]­media.co.uk @stu­art­pike78

STU­ART PIKE

AVALLEY the­atre com­pany’s re­cent pro­duc­tion was marked with a visit from a very spe­cial guest.

Stan­ley Whit­taker, of Tay­lor Street, Rawten­stall, was guest of hon­our at the Rossendale Play­ers’ pro­duc­tion of Gen­er­a­tions Apart on Novem­ber 27, 70 years (to the day) after mak­ing his stage bow with the Play­ers in 1948 as a fresh faced 17-year-old.

Life mem­ber Stan­ley has en­joyed close links with the Play­ers down the decades - con­tribut­ing to dozens of pro­duc­tions in many dif­fer­ent roles, as an ac­tor, back­stage crew, di­rec­tor, pub­lic­ity, sec­re­tary and chair­man.

A key player in pur­chas­ing the com­pany’s base at ●● Stan­ley Whit­taker the New Mil­len­nium The­atre in Water­foot in the mid1990s, Stan­ley, 87, was also heav­ily in­volved in fundrais­ing and the de­sign of the build­ing.

He said: “Find­ing the build­ing which be­came the New Mil­len­nium The­atre was a big step; I was chair­man at the time when the build­ing came on the mar- ket. I hap­pened to see the ad­vert and we de­cided to have a look and put in an of­fer to buy it and con­vert it.

“We had been no­madic for years at Rossendale Col­lege, Bacup Me­chan­ics, Alder Grange and Fearns.”

Stan­ley’s first play with the group in Novem­ber 1948 was The Shop at Sly Cor­ner - al­though he had ac­tu­ally made his stage de­but as a child ac­tor with Rawten­stall Op­er­atic So­ci­ety in the early 1940s.

Other shows in­cluded Ar­senic and Old Lace in 1953, Sliced Ham (a re­vue) in 1957, and The Heiress in 1961 - the group’s 100th pro­duc­tion.

He even had a cameo ap­pear­ance in 1951 while he was serv­ing with the RAF. He re­called: “I was do­ing my Na­tional Ser­vice. I was only at Padgate so I took a week’s leave to take a part in a play called Our Town.”

He has also di­rected many pro­duc­tions, his last be­ing All My Sons in 2016.

He added: “There have been a lot of high­lights in that time. We have won awards at fes­ti­vals and that’s al­ways been ex­cit­ing. I still go and see the pro­duc­tions and I’ve been in charge of the archive for some time.”

Stan­ley also worked in the­atre ad­min­is­tra­tion for many years around the north west, in­clud­ing work­ing at Manch­ester’s Granada Stu­dios where he flexed his act­ing mus­cles as Black Rod and the Speaker in a mock House of Com­mons par­lia­men­tary ses­sion for a pro­duc­tion of First Among Equals, which formed part of a vis­i­tor tour. ●● Gemma Atkin­son at Bleakholt An­i­mal Sanc­tu­ary with Michelle Hill and Bella

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