© Downfield MusicalSociety 2007
SEE PHOTOGRAPHS BELOW
1950 saw the return of DMS shows in the city with a revival of “The Quaker Girl” on a new stage in the Training College, Park Place Dundee. DMS performed for four years in the college but as the Society grew it became evident that the venue was just not big enough for the productions that DMS wanted to produce so it was decided that they should move to a bigger hall.
The Palace Theatre in Dundee at that time was a full time variety show venue and they were not prepared to allow Amateur Clubs to use it; there was also the Kings Theatre but the rental cost was prohibitive so… there was only one bigger alternative; the largest hall in the city; the 2150 seated Caird Hall. In 1954 and 1955 DMS presented “The New Moon “ and “ The Land of Smiles” in a custom built (by DMS volunteers) theatre within the hall including a stage extension; a false ceiling; a temporary proscenium; and a large dividing curtain to create an auditorium for 800 people. It took the volunteers 3 nights and 3 days, but it was ready for the Sunday dress rehearsal. So in fact DMS were probably the first to build a theatre within this vast arena, and it was a great success. At that time it was hoped that their efforts would have persuaded the City Council to see the opportunities of adapting the Caird hall for large scale theatrical productions but at that time they didn’t (60 years later a similar stage is being built for shows like “Blood Brothers” “Buddy” etc... It just takes time!!!)
In 1955 the curse of “The Land of Smiles” hit DMS when President William Dickson collapsed and died on stage whilst making the final night speech.
Whilst the Caird Hall adventure was a great success the work involved in creating the stage for a week’s run was just too much for a third year and DMS reverted to the Training College for their 1956 production of “Bless the bride” and “Waltz Time” in 1957.
1956 also saw the Society’s first review show “Moon and Stars” in the old YMCA in Dundee’s Constitution Street and this a was the precursor to DMS’s first Pantomime in 1958
In 1958 the Palace Theatre revised its rules on amateur usage and DMS moved there with “White Horse Inn” It was the start of a long connection with this theatre, which had a capacity of 1250 seats and was a joy to perform in.
After the first panto in the YMCA in ’58, pantomime productions were also transferred to the Palace. The two (at least) shows per year format had started!
The 50’s was a fabulous decade for DMS
Dougie Cunningham and Robert Chaplain as the Ugly Sisters in Cinderella 1959
Male chorus group of Cinderella 1959
Kinnear Baxter and Pat Mathew as Gaylord Ravenala as Magnolia Hawkes in "Showboat" 1959
Bill Forrester as Captain Andy Hawkes in "Showboat" 1959
Cast groups in "Showboat" 1959
Downfield's very first Pantomime "Aladdin" in the YMCA Dundee in 1958 the forerunner of over 50 years of panto's
Shiela Thomson as Cenci and James Simpson as Stefan in Waltz Time in 1957
(Above, left and below) Chorus groups of the forerunner to the DMS Panto in "Moon and Stars" 1956
Chorus groups and (right) Gordon Angus as Augustus Willow from Bless the Bride in 1956
Principal group from the Arcadians in 1952
The Training College, Park Place, Dundee, production venue for shows from 1950 to 1953
On stage on the Caird Hall Dundee with "The Land of Smiles" 1955
The ladies of the chorus of "A Country Girl" in the Training Collage 1953
The Caird Hall, Dundee, where "The New Moon" and "The Land of Smiles " were presented in 1954 and 1955
The Palace Theatre, Dundee where DMS started presenting shows in 1958 with "White Horse Inn"
The YMCA in Dundee where Downfield presented "Moon and Stars" and their first Pantomime "Aladdin" in 1958