PARISH PLAYERS HISTORY
For many years numerous members of our church plus others put on shows on the stage at St Cedd’s Church. These were mainly Pantomimes, and a renamed one was called Colchesterella.
Variety shows also were put on, and in one my brother David and his three friends were a pop band called “Fuzz”. They mimed to records, and sang along, but people thought they were really playing the instruments and sang and suggested that they should turn professional.
I took over the accounts preparations when the treasurer gave up. They raised their funds from putting on Pantomimes and shows, subscriptions, raffles, a yearly Garden Party (normally held in the Pettit’s garden in Shrub End Road), film evenings, quiz nights, cream teas, barbeques and car boot and rummage sales. Money was spent on costumes, props and scenery, electrical equipment and repairs, heating, admin costs then making a donation to the church funds. When I did the January 1995 accounts, another church member took over and was now the treasurer.
In 1996 they raised £151 holding a concert to celebrate the 150th anniversary of All Saints Church which was donated to church funds. In 1997 profits from the year were contributed to church funds, our organ fund and to the St Helena Hospice. For 2008 it was £250 to both the church’s organ and fabric funds. In 1999 £300 was given to each of our mower and tower funds.
The group continued to make major donations to church funds, £500 in 2000 and £1,000 in 2001. There were further £1,000s given in both 2002 and 2003 but then my records ended, but it was about that time a show was cancelled due to the fact that it was not ready to stage.
The group was then ended. However whilst he was the vicar here, the Reverend Chris was usually involved in the shows and often made the local press as in one article I found he was dressed as the Dame in Ali Baba and was pictured with Liz Frost. Apparently he was copying the role played by his predecessor the Reverend Derek who had also played the same part some years before.
When I spoke to my brother, David, he had a lot of happy memories of being in the group, and he appeared in several of the shows. He said that they did a number of variety shows before the first pantomime of Colchesterella. One church member did some wonderful work for the group with his painting of sceneries for shows and I believe his brother was involved with the electrics. I looked at the books about Shrub End written and produced by him and another church member, and there were a couple of photos in there and he was identifying several of the people in the shots.
Many people from the church were involved, and there was a gentleman from the area near the North Station railway plus his daughter who did dancing, and several times shows were put on in their church at St Pauls. My brother also remembers once doing a show in the East End of London at Bethnal Green. The group put on a varied programme of shows, Pantomimes, plays, variety shows, Old Tyme Music Hall and Music Concerts.
Also linked in with the group were two men who worked behind the scene, who often put on film shows to raise money for church funds. They made local films and did slide shows in the churches to show to the people of Shrub End. I would like to thank my brother David who has sent me a few Parish Players photos when he was involved with the group, which I would think would be in mid to late 1970’s or early 1980’s.
The parish booklet also suggests from their research that they may have been shows being done over 100 years ago in the parish as well.
My friendly neighbour remembers that as the people in St Cedd’s got closer together, a drama group was formed, which latterly moved on and was called the Parish Players and shows were held at St Cedd’s, which were ideal, due to the stage area and she believed that the Reverend Richard was also involved as well.