Early debut with not a word spoken

As far as I can tell my early involvement in theatrical productions, mainly as part of the audience rather than taking an active part, are linked to Wrexham, a place I have never lived.

Mind you my first appearance in public saw me in the starring role with members of my family in the supporting cast and the venue was one of the finest in Wrexham — St Giles, the parish church.

A 19th century image of St Giles in Wreham.

I was a bit young, even for a juvenile lead, and I didn’t really have many lines.

The occasion was my baptism and I was only a few weeks old.

My father was managing a chemist shop in Liverpool at this time but had only taken the post two or three months before my birth. Before that the family had lived just outside Wrexham where he had managed a local pharmacy.

I have always said that I may have been born in England (at least it was in Liverpool which has always made me proud of that city) but I was conceived in Wales.

Another reason for the Wrexham venue was that my Lloyd grandparents were living there at the time (my grandfather was a civil servant and my grandmother had a stationery shop in Lampbit Street).

It was also where my father was born and grew up.

My next memory of a theatrical venue was again in Wrexham. I was only about six or seven (it was the late 50s a year or so after we moved to Rhyl).

The occasion was a performance by an amateur dramatic group which included my father’s cousin Raymond Morgan.

I don’t remember what the play was, although I seem to remember I enjoyed it.

The only true memory I have is that cousin Raymond played a character called the High Cockalorum and was in a bright, multi-coloured costume and I believe at one point he came into the audience and cavorted in the aisles.

It is strange that even at an early age some memories are embedded in your mind.

My theatrical links with Wrexham continued.

My grandfather (Lloyd) was an excellent violinist. He even took his violin with him to France when he went with the Liverpool Pals in World War 1.

He joined a concert party called the Verey Lights, and entertained many units just behind the front line. He also carried out his “daytime job” as a signaller.

After the war he set up his own little group (I think it was a quartet) and they played at tea dances and at dance halls.

He never turned professional but when he settled in Wrexham he used to play in the orchestra for the local amateur operatic society.

We went to at least three performances at the Wrexham college.

The one that sticks most in my mind is Oklahoma and to this day I can hear the mournful notes of Poor Jud is Dead, with the Surrey with the Fringe on Top providing a jaunty undertone.

I believe another performance was South Pacific and again I still know a number of the songs.

The third has slipped my mind.

We used to drive over from Rhyl, my brother, sister and I being smartly dressed for the occasion and seated in the back of the family car.

On the way back my parents folded up a travelling rug and laid it on the floor behind the front seats and, while my brother and sister curled up in the corners of the back seat I was quite happy as I fell asleep in the space between the front and back seats.

It is a knack I have always had, being able to drop off wherever I happened to be when I was tired.

I even slept at the office one night after a celebration to mark the end of a complete refurbishment of the editorial department.

Then again I am once more getting ahead of myself.

This early love of the theatre was then reinforced by my English teacher and I felt completely at home when I joined the Rhyl Little Theatre.

This also stood me in good stead on various newspapers when I used to do many of the theatrical reviews, professional and amateur.

In fact I went head to head with an editor over a somewhat less than kind review of an amateur drama group.

I will save that for a more appropriate time.

As a famous cartoon show used to end:

“That’s all folks!”

Published by Robin

I'm a retired journalist who still has stories to tell. This seems to be a good place to tell them.

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