Stanley is VIP guest at latest theatre show
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