© Downfield MusicalSociety 2007
SEE PHOTOGRAPHS BELOW
The 1980’s was a decade of change and of significant milestones for DMS and Dundee theatre
New owners of the Whitehall
Noda Cabaret and the start of the big production cabarets
Once again the Whitehall’s future was in doubt and it was a very worrying time for DMS as they did not know if there was to be a theatre to present “Aladdin” their 1982 pantomime . The City Council decided to close the theatre for financial reasons and put it up for sale. The Amateur groups in the city formed a consortium and decided to raise funds to buy it. Their £20000 offer was accepted and the council allowed them time to organise fundraising. A sum of £50000 was thought to be required, not only for the purchase it, but also for the improvements that were certainly required. The decision by the council to make the theatre available for production during the fundraising period allowed DMS to present a very successful “Aladdin” with great support from the Tayside public. The fundraising campaign was successful and the purchase price paid on time to the council. The additional funds required were also raised and a stage extension added; the auditorium painted; the bar and coffee bar refurbished; so by August 1984 there was a huge transformation and DMS performed the First show in the “New” theatre with “Grease” which was a complete sell-out. Legal changes were also made whereby the buildings were owned by that Trust and the theatre’s day to day operations was run by a company, the directors or which were representatives of the amateur societies and headed by Bill Crowe.
Also with the undoubted and growing success of the Society there was a need to think about larger premises, basically more space was needed. The local council decided around the same time to proceed with upgrading Lochee Road to make it a dual carriageway and decided that Downfield’s clubrooms needed to be demolished to allow them fulfil these plans. A compulsory purchase order was served and DMS were once again searching for new premises. Several premises were looked at and then the recently insolvent Hydro Electric Club came available. It was a perfect solution and the price was right. The latter part of 1984 and the start of 1985 were taken up by refurbishing the new clubrooms. The settlement from the compulsory purchases enabled the purchase of the new premises and left enough for a substantial refurbishment. Once again there was a tremendous volunteer effort by the members to get the clubroom ready for rehearsal. So Downfield moved to 27/29 Guthrie Street Dundee. The official opening took place in April 1985 and the opening ceremeny was performed by Bill Crowe in front of just under 200 people with a cabaret fronted by George Duffus, Ian lees, and Ann Wallace. Oh and by the way the dual carriageway has never been built and there is still just a hole in the ground where Downfield once were!!
The new clubrooms did not have scenery storage but alternate premises were found in Brown Street and later in a barn at a farm just outside Whitfield.
In 1984 Downfield were invited to perform the midnight cabaret at the National Operatic and Dramatic Association Scottish conference at Peebles Hotel Hydro which was an outstanding success. So much so, that the management of the hotel decided to invite the Society to perform a similar cabaret for their Christmas guests that year. This was the start of yearly visits and now DMS travel to Peebles each Boxing Day, New Year and Easter to present a cabaret which is still happening today almost 30 years later.
In the 1988 DMS also presented a cabaret at the exclusive Gleneagles Hotel together with several other prestigious hotels throughout Scotland.
The 1980’s productions included some re-runs of shows previously presented in the 60’s and 70s “The White Horse Inn”, “The Desert Song”, “The Merry Widow”, “Half a Sixpence”, “Charlie Girl” and “Kismet”, There were also several premiers to the city, “Hans Andersen”, the Broadway version of “Pirates of Penzance”, “ Irene”, “Underneath the Arches”, and firsts for DMS of “The Student Prince” and “Carousel”
The 80’s also saw the start of DMS presenting the “Modern Musical” with the first being “Godspell” which was presented in the Bonar Hall, and sell out productions of “Grease” and “Jesus Christ Superstar” in the Whitehall.
Panto was just getting bigger and bigger throughout the 80’s and becoming a significant part of the DMS’s success story.
The 80’s also saw the start of another saga….DMS were asked to perform shows in the Bonar Hall, Dundee, for Saga Tour’s visitors to Dundee from all over the world, with many from Australia, USA and Canada. Most stayed in the residencies of the University in the Summer when the students were back home, so every Sunday evening Downfield produced a cabaret type production with two different shows, on alternate weeks, presented over 13 week season . Downfield presented these shows for nine years starting in 1985 and entertained over 50000 tourists and advanced their reputation worldwide.
The 80’s was also the start of a very successful run of Scottish Noda Programme and Poster awards and in 1985 the Society won the All UK National award for the best programme with their entry of “Jesus Christ Superstar” winning the Owen Peacock Memorial Trophy
(Above) The Hans Andersen Dancers (Right) Ann Wallace as Jenny Lind and Brian Donnelly as Hans Andersen (Left) Graeme Neil Smith as Otto Pedersen and Brian Donnelly as Hans Andersen in "Hans Andersen" in 1985
(Above Left) Jane Hutchison as Fairy Sparkle, Chris Wylie as Bobby, Rosalyn Thomson as Betty (Above) The principals and chorus of "Babes in the Woods" in 1985
(Above) Lynn MacFarlane as Charlie (Below Far Left) The Charlie Girl Dancers (Below) Frances irons as Lady Hadwell and Ann Wallace as Mrs Kay Connor in "Charlie Girl" in 1986
(Left) Ann Wallace, Lynn MacFarlane, Frances irons and Stella Kiddie as "Jerries Girls" in 1986
(Above) Heather Quillan, Laura Ferrie, Ann Wallace, Derdrie MacFarlane with Graham Simpson (Graham Crammond) and Jim Petrie on the ropes and on the Discovery prior to "Pirates of Penzance" in 1986
(Above Right) Chorus members Gillian Brown and Heather McQuillan, (Above) Christine Howie as Prince Charming and Laura Ferrie as Cinderella (Right) Graham Simpson (Graham Crammond) as Milly in Cinderella in 1986
(Above) Ann Wallace as Mrs Geraldine O'Hare and Neil Stewart as Jimmy (Right) Joyce Chapman as Mrs Emmiline Marshall (Below Behind Piano) Davis Moncur, Gordon Philp,Neil Stewart. Jim Petrie (Standing) Frances Irons, Ann Wallace, and Stella Kiddie (Seated) Elizabeth Anderson, Fiona Moonie, Heather Crabb, Elizabeth Murison, and Anne Mooney in "Irene" in 1987
(Left) Roger Buist as Widow Twankey and Ewan McDyer as Wishee Washee (Below) Laura Ferrie as Princess Baldroubadorand Christine Howie as Aladdin ( Below Left) Jim Petrie as Emporer Sollywongnumba and Roger Buist as Widow Twankey in "Aladdin" in 1987
(Left) Roger Buist as Chitterlow helping Graeme Neil Smith as Arthur Kipps and Laura Ferrie as Flo Bates looking on (Below Far Left) Lynn MacFarlane as Ann Pornick (Below Near Left) Roger Buist as in "Half a Sixpence" in 1988
(Right) Company on stage (Below) Wendy Craigie, Christine Low, and Heather Crabb in "Downfield - Now and Then" in 1988
(Above Top) Roger Biust as Chesney Allen and Brian Donnelly as Bud Flanagan (Above Immediate) Alastair MacFarlane (Left) Gordon Philp as Charlie Naughton, Neil Stewart as Jimmy Gold, Roger Buist as Chesney Allen, Graeme Neil Smith as Monsewer Eddie Gray, Brian Donnelly as Bud Flanagan, Graham Simpson (Graham Crammond) as Teddy Knox, Ewan Campbell as Jimmy Nervo in "Underneath the Arches" in 1988
(Above Top) Derdrie MacFarlane as Jenny, Roger Biust as Dame Trot Laura Ferrie as Jack Trot ( Above Immediate) Heather Crabb as Princess Grace and Hazel Grieve as (Left) Neil Stewart as Walter the Wizard and Hazel Grieve as Fairy Twinkletoes in "Jack and the Beanstalk" in 1988
(Above ) Lynn MacFarlane as Lalume and Graham Simpson (Graham Crammond) as Wazir of Police (Above Right) Heather Crabb as Zubbediya. (Right) Roger Buist as The Poet (Haji) and Lynn Smith as The Chief Policeman in "Kismet" in 1989
(Below Left ) Hazel Grieve as Priscilla the Goose and Roger Buist as Mother Goose. (Below) Ian c Anderson as The "Duke" and Roger Buist as Mother Goose (Below Right) Ian Donald as Sir Jasper in "Mother Goose" in 1989