Curtain rises again for town’s theatre stars

Playhouse Theatre Company, Buxton. Photo: Buxton Herald.
Playhouse Theatre Company, Buxton. Photo: Buxton Herald.
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STARS from the past come out to take another bow thanks to a Buxton Advertiser reader who responded to our appeal for photographs of actors who appeared in repertory productions after the Second World War.

Last week, the Advertiser reported on the visit to Buxton by two of the town’s former thespians, Penelope Williams and her sister Prudence, who had trod the boards at the Playhouse theatre – now the Pavilion Arts Centre - during the late 1940s and early 1950s.

Playhouse Theatre, Buxton, scene from the play 'On Monday Next'. Pictured left to right: Shaun Sutton, Robert Weir, Penelope Williams, Miles Rudge, Barbara Leslie, Brian Whittle, Patricia Lett, Gwendoline Watford, Nancy Roberts. On the floor: Nigel Arkwright. Photo copyright: Buxton Herald.

Playhouse Theatre, Buxton, scene from the play 'On Monday Next'. Pictured left to right: Shaun Sutton, Robert Weir, Penelope Williams, Miles Rudge, Barbara Leslie, Brian Whittle, Patricia Lett, Gwendoline Watford, Nancy Roberts. On the floor: Nigel Arkwright. Photo copyright: Buxton Herald.

The sisters, now living in London, had been members of Anthony Hawtrey’s repertory company which came to Buxton each summer, performing weekly shows, and were attempting to track down old photographs and memorabilia relating to their time spent in the town.

In response to their plea, Buxton resident Vera Mitchell has provided us with these five photographs, two of which feature Penelope. One is a scene from a play entitled ‘On Monday Next’, while the other sees her pictured with members of the Playhouse theatre company at a gathering to mark the end of the 1949 season.

Vera said: “I was interested in the theatre and, as a schoolgirl, I used to collect these pictures out of the Buxton Herald. Me and a friend used to watch the actors arriving, and occasionally I went to the productions with my mother.”

She recalled the performances were “very good, very professional”.

Playhouse Theatre, Buxton, farewell group, season ending - October 24, 1949. Pictured left to right: Robert Weir, Will Leighton, Brian Whittle, Myles Rudge, Nigel Arkwright, Carmen Hill, Nancy Roberts, Shaun Sutton, Sally Newton, Patricia Lett, Penelope Williams, Gwendoline Watford, Barbara Leslie. Photo contributed.

Playhouse Theatre, Buxton, farewell group, season ending - October 24, 1949. Pictured left to right: Robert Weir, Will Leighton, Brian Whittle, Myles Rudge, Nigel Arkwright, Carmen Hill, Nancy Roberts, Shaun Sutton, Sally Newton, Patricia Lett, Penelope Williams, Gwendoline Watford, Barbara Leslie. Photo contributed.

Vera was also able to provide three additional pictures. One features members of the Playhouse company enjoying a relaxing cup of tea in the Pavilion Gardens; the other seemingly involves discussions over the script for that week’s production.

The final picture is of the actress Barbara Leslie, who featured in Playhouse productions alongside her husband, the late television producer and executive Shaun Sutton OBE, who is also featured in the cast photos. The pair are believed to have met in Buxton and married in 1948. Sutton was a former head of BBC Television’s Drama Group.

Playhouse Theatre Company, Buxton. Photo: Buxton Herald.

Playhouse Theatre Company, Buxton. Photo: Buxton Herald.