HISTORY OF THE ORCHARD PLAYERS
By Hazel Hole
The Orchard Players was formed in 1971 when a small group of enthusiastic and interested local amateurs met at the farmhouse of the Capel St Mary apple farm to discuss the setting up of a local drama group. It was decided to go ahead and The Orchard Players was formed, taking the name from the local apple farm.
For several years a small group of enthusiasts held ad hoc play reading evenings in members’ houses before becoming more organised with regular play reading meetings .The first public performance of the group was in 1976. This was a one act play performed at Capel St Mary Primary School and was well received. This then encouraged a few members to consider something more challenging.
3 members formed a sub group early in 1978 to develop ideas for a pantomime. One member became the musical director, one the choreographer and the third the director/producer. No funds were held by the group therefore the Capel St Mary Community Council (as was ) was approached for a loan of £50 to enable a village pantomime to go ahead. The 3 members guaranteed to return the £50 with interest if possible and agreed to make up any shortfall themselves. The loan was agreed.
A very keen and talented cast came forward and rehearsals took place at Bentley Village Hall with the panto staged at Capel St Mary Village Hall. So, Mother Goose was born and took to the stage in January 1979 directed by Hazel Hole supported by the other two members of the subgroup, as musical director and choreographer respectively. A profit was made and the £50 loan was fully repaid, with interest and the group then had funds to mount further productions.
Thus The Orchard Players was formed producing both a pantomime and summer musical show for almost every year since.