A fascinating glimpse into Winter Gardens history has appeared on YouTube, thanks to local man Doug Armitage. Doug’s 8mm cine film was shot in the theatre in 1973 and 1974 and shows the Morecambe Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society rehearsals for The Desert Song and The Merry Widow. Although the film has no sound, it showcases the wonderful sets and costumes which graced these amateur productions and which were typical of the high standard of shows that local groups staged in the theatre.
Doug takes-up the story: “I took part of the film and a friend took the bits that I appear in. My wife, Janis, and I met at rehearsals in 1967 for the first production of Camelot (the UK amateur premiere), when the Producer was Dorothy Hardy.
The extracts in the film from The Desert Song and The Merry Widow include a Dress Rehearsal, during which the lights were up and down as the Lighting staff received Dorothy’s directions, hence the poor quality in places.
In the Desert Song I played Mindar, a bit part and Janis played Azuri, a lead role. In The Merry Widow I was Kromov (misspelt Krohov in the Programme) and Janis was a Grisette, Margot.
They were fantastic years for us, with very happy memories of all the shows that we were in.”
Doug’s film is a fascinating (and very rare) glimpse of the theatre during it’s working life. In fact, aside from this and the 1960 movie “The Entertainer”, there is virtually no film of the theatre or ballroom known to exist. Unless you know different?
Watch Doug’s film here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B73KZmEo5tM