1960s & 1970s

During the early 60's a series of "Pot-Pourri" evenings were held as well as normal productions. "Autumn Harmony" in 1962 and "Music Night" in 1963 gave an opportunity for the operatic and dramatic sections of the Society to come together and provide a greater miscellany of items, which were well received by audiences. In 1962 the Society won the Festival of Drama.

"Murder at Midnight", in 1965, proved to be the final presentation by the Dramatic Section which, under the direction of Dorothy Patton, had provided so many hours of excellent entertainment. Dorothy was a talented pianist, singer and actress who played 13 roles as a soubrette, produced 31 of the 34 shows presented by the Dramatic Section and was the first recipient in London to receive the NODA gold bar for 60 years service to the Amateur Stage in 1972. Eileen Beales was the prompt for many dramatic productions and from 1974 she took on another unsung but essential job of Wardrobe Mistress for the Society.

However, as one door closed another opened... The opportunity arose in 1965 to present "Jane"- the amateur premiere of a new musical about Jane Eyre. It was decided to cancel all other bookings and concentrate all resources of the Society into one big production at Hornsey Town Hall.

So in September 1966 the curtain rose to the music of Monty Stevens played by Edward Rubach and Robert Docker at the pianos. The production being in the capable hands of Stanley Hawkins (assisted by Dorothy Patton), the Musical Director being Howard Robinson. One must not forget Laurie Laight who worked so unceasingly towards the success of the production. The press were most enthusiastic and with this success the future was assured and after that production all the Society’s main productions were staged at Hornsey Town Hall until 1990.

“Jane” was followed by “Orpheus in the Underworld” in 1967 and with such notices as ‘...Superb entertainment .... rarely does one find such talent in an amateur Society. If the world amateur premiere of “Jane” last year hinted at the versatility of this company then “Orpheus” confirmed it. After these two major triumphs the Society must rank among the leading Operatic Societies in North London...’ – The Society had now really arrived!

Also arriving at this time for “Song of Norway” in 1968 was Pearl Porter, our present Wardrobe Mistress. “The Vagabond King” was revived in 1970 and on that occasion Howard Robinson produced and Glyn Evans was M.D. During Act 1 when the stage was in darkness (intentionally), a solo is sung by Katherine de Vacelles, Glyn, knowing that it would be impossible for her to see the baton, suddenly produced a very special one with a torch bulb in it. This was a few years before Star Wars!

This was the first show since the amalgamation of Finchley with Muswell Hill Operatic Society in 1969, a marriage which proved a very happy one, with many of the Muswell Hill members taking a very active part in Society affairs, such as Irene Titheridge (chorus and helping with wardrobe), the late Rose Davies (chorus and Wardrobe Mistress), Audrey Warrington (chorus and Business Manager) and John and Pauline Weatherley. John took over as Stage Director for the production, a position he held until June 2006. Pauline takes part in the chorus, has played minor roles, choreographed shows and served as Treasurer and Social Chairperson. She took over the role of ticket secretary in 1994, as a temporary replacement when Michael Wilson resigned after 15 years and is STILL doing the job today.

1972 witnessed another change in name – to the one the Society is known by today. During this period a great variety of operettas were performed from “Carousel” through “Rose Marie” to “La Belle Helene” – some old, some not so old, but hopefully over the years there has been something to please everyone. The Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977 saw the Society join Hornsey Operatic and Dramatic Society in presenting a concert version of “Merrie England”.

For “Carousel” in 1979 publicity took on a new dimension when a float was entered in the Finchley Carnival procession and managed to gain 3rd prize. Although it was a worthwhile exercise, it took a lot of work, panic and headaches. “Carousel” also saw the arrival of Pauline Grosse (the Society’s current hardworking Production Secretary) and Ann Hertler-Smith as choreographer.