© Downfield MusicalSociety 2007
The Society was formed and performed their first show in 1928.
Previously a group of singers performed as Downfield South Church Junior Choir in the Church Hall probably from before the First World War.
It was the refusal of the church minister to allow non church members to use the Church Hall that caused DMS, under the motivation of Mr W C Lamb who was known plainly as Pa Lamb, to be formed by moving out to rehearse in the Village Hall (which to this day is the Scout Hall)
Shows continued to be performed in the Village Hall in the late 20's and early 30's.
In 1938 rehearsals carried on in the Village Hall but the show moved to the larger Bonnethill Church Hall in the Hilltown area of Dundee In 1939 DMS decided to expand even further and it was decided to present “A Country Girl” in the Foresters Hall in Dundee which was later to become Dundee Repertory Theatre, but the call of war intervened and the show was cancelled, with many of the men of the company being called up. A decision was made that all committee positions would be held by the ladies of the company so that the society could be resumed after the war was won
1939 the Show was cancelled due the start for the second World war and for nearly all of the 1940’s the Society was inactive. It was not until 1949 that the pre war committee with the motivation of Miss May Duncan who was the Society’s accompanist (May remained with DMS for well over 50 years) organised a public meeting in the Village on 1st April in the Masonic Hall when 25 people attnded and with £10 in the kitty the Society was reborn. The pre-war Production team recreated the last show before the war and “The Quaker Girl “ was reproduced in the Training College , Park Place Dundee. The rehearsal rooms in the Village Hall in Downfield were now owned by the Scout Association and permission to rehearse was refused so the Society started their long association with the famous food suppliers Smedleys and rehearsed in their canteen.
The Society’s direct connection with the village in Downfield therefore ceased in 1949
During the war years DMS continued to function in a limited way through the Aoelian Concert party
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 Road 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
The 1960's DMS present many favourite shows of the day and for the two years of 1964 and 1965 the Society performed 3 shows each year with the summer shows of “The Boy Friend” and “Free as Air” but reverted to two shows each year for the remainder of the 60's
Pantomime became a regular annual show and started to become a main fundraiser for DMS, The panto’s had moved to the 1250 seat Palace Theatre and enjoyed tremendous business, but in 1963 the future of the Palace Theatre was in doubt and they had to move back to the YMCA. That presented a significant challenge as the stage size of the YMCA was substantially smaller that the Palace. In these days sets were hired and were built to fit large theatres, so that the sets for the 1963 panto “Babes in the Wood” were built by the Producer and his wife maybe the start of set building which DMS still do today.
Also 1963 saw the first tour of a DMS show when they took the Panto (for a one night stand) to the Village Hall in St Monance in the East Neuk of Fife an event that the late Magnus Magnusson wrote about in the Scotsman
So as the 60’s moved on DMS’s reputation went from strength to strength and the Society continued to attract wonderful reviews from the local press.
With shows like “No, No Nanette “Naughty Marietta” “The Merry Widow” “Love from Judy” “The New Moon” “The King and I” “The White Horse Inn” “Annie Get Your Gun” “Bless the Bride” and “Kismet” ticket sales were booming
In 1969, The Palace Theatre, which changed its name to The Theatre Royal in the Mid 60's closed, and the former State Cinema formerly known as the Alhambra Theatre (originally opened in 1928) in Bellfield Street, Dundee, was re-opened by the City Council as the Whitehall Theatre and became a new civic theatre. DMS's first show in the new venue was their 1969 pantomime “Puss in Boots” and the Whitehall has been their main venue ever since.
The 60’s were also the years when DMS Members appeared who would later appear in the West end and on TV
In “The King and I” (1965) Prince Chulalongkorn was played by Hilton McRae. Hilton stayed with DMS until 1968 appearing in 8 shows including panto. He later moved on to playing such major parts as the Engineer in “Miss Saigon” on the stage of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London he also starred in the film “The French Lieutenant's Woman” and more recently in “The Execution of Gary Glitter” and on TV in Lewis and Silent Witness.
Also in “Annie Get Your Gun”, Annie Oakley was played by Jill Keith who later became Jill Gascoine. Jill’s first appearance for DMS was the previous year as Dandini in “Cinderella”. Jill went on to play Detective Inspector Maggie Forbes in the 1980s television series The Gentle Touch and its spin-off series C.A.T.S. Eyes. In the 1990s, she also became a novelist and has published three books. She has made many stage appearances in the UK and her now home town of LA and she too played Drury Lane in “42nd Street” in 1988.
The 1970’s was the decade when DMS decided to try and fulfil an ambition that had been in the minds of many, but specifically two, of the members for some years. It was Bill Crowe’s and Frank Anderson’s aspiration that Downfield should own its own clubrooms and rehearsal space. It was their foresight that this must be the future and they created a reserve fund as far back as the late fifties to be ready for day when they could satisfy that dream.
After viewing many properties in Dundee in late 1971 an old house and paint store at 128 Lochee Road became available and Downfield’s offer was accepted. The member’s enthusiasm was overwhelming and almost all of the significant refurbishment needed to the building was completed by their voluntary efforts, so within the following months to September 1972 work continues day and night and the conversion was completed on time and the premises were ready for rehearsal as planned.
It was not till a year later, in November 1973, that the lounge bar opened, which changed the social aspect of DMS … forever!
So, on the night the first pint was poured, DMS were the owners of; a rehearsal hall; a lounge bar; a committee room; a costume store; a workshop for building scenery; a scenery store; a props room; a kitchen and plenty of addition storage space.
DMS were in fact one of the very, very few similar groups in the UK to have such a great asset.
Production wise, DMS settled in their new main venue for future theatre performances– The Whitehall Theatre, Bellfield Street, Dundee which was reopened as the new civic theatre in late 1969, and so the first “main” production that DMS presented in the Whitehall was “The Desert Song” this was followed over the ten years by “The Merry Widow”; “Kings Rhapsody”; “Naughty Marietta”; “The King and I” ; “Camelot”; “Charlie Girl”; “Half a Sixpence”; Hello Dolly; and “Where’s Charley” with at least five of these shows being premiered in the City by the Society. But the 70’s continued to be a two year per show decade.
Pantomime continued to be a great success for the Society year after year.
In 1978 DMS celebrated their Golden Jubilee with a spectacular production of “Hello Dolly” A Dinner dance in The Woodlands Hotel topped off a great year for the Society
1979 even saw the club’s first show on “foreign” soil when they performed for the United States forces on their base at Edzel Scotland
By the end of the decade there were once again worries about the future of the Whitehall and Downfield and the other local musical societies needed to start planning so that they had a venue to perform…… if the worst came to the worst.
The 1980’s was a decade of change and of significant milestones for DMS and Dundee theatre - New owners of the Whitehall - New premises - Noda Cabaret and the start of the big production cabarets - New musicals -SAGA Entertainment
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
The 1990s was the decade of DMS “on the move” this time with their productions! It was the start of their relationship with the Waterford International Festival of Light Opera in the Republic of Ireland and culminated with being part of the NODA centenary celebrations in London appearing on arguable one of the most prestigious venues in the world….. The Royal Albert Hall.
The first visit to the Emerald Isle was in 1993. The production was “Godspell”. Before the visit the Society had presented the show in the Bonar Hall (where they first produced it back in 1982) and then prior to leaving for Ireland again for a short run in the Whitehall Theatre. 54 members of the Society made trip by bus and ferry, sailing from Holyhead, and a successful fundraising effort ensured that the £13000 needed was achieved, It was an amazing experience. The visit was very successful and the Society returned with 3 awards for Best Post-war Production, Best Male Vocalist for Graeme Neil Smith in his portrayal as Jesus, and the Festival Runner-up Award. All the trophies and Waterford Glass awards were displayed in local jewellers, Mathew Henderson for the people of Dundee to see and enjoy.
Part of the fundraising was an unexpected £600 which the society won for the best float in the Dundee City 1993 Festival parade with their “Godspell” float.
In 1994 DMS presented world amateur premier of the Musical “Windy City” which they also took to Waterford. This was their second visit to the festival and the lessons learned from the previous helped to make the organisation a good bit easier. This time the company flew instead of taking the ferry which greatly reduced the travel time. The Society was delighted when the writer of the musical Tony Macaulay travelled with his family to be part of the Irish experience. (“Windy City” had its professional world premiere at the Bristol Hippodrome in June 1982 before opening in the West End on July 20 at the Victoria Palace, where it closed on February 26, 1983 after 250 performances. The cast included Dennis Waterman as Hildy Johnson, Anton Rodgers as Walter Burns, Amanda Redman as Esther Stone, Robert Longden as Earl Williams, Diane Langton as Mollie Malloy, and Victor Spinetti as poetic reporter Bensinger. ) It had its Amateur World Premier and UK premier in the Whitehall Theatre on Tuesday 6th September 1994 and its Irish premier in the theatre Royal Waterford on Friday 30th September 1994
Downfield also became the agents for the rights holders of “Windy City” and they still licence out productions of the show within the UK.
On 1995 DMS presented the Tayside premier of the circus spectacular show “Barnum”. The show ran for 10 performances in the Whitehall Theatre, which at that time was the longest run of any production by Downfield apart from Panto. (It has since been overtaken by “Beauty and the Beast” In 2010) It was an amazing success, with cast learning many circus skills and with a 24 feet high wire walk that people still talk about.
1997 saw DMS’s third visit of the 90s to Waterford to present “Me and My Girl”. Apart from the competitive element of the Festival relating to their production, Downfields reputation for cabaret was well known and they were invited to present the “Musical Cavalcade” on the final evening of the festival prior to the presentation of the awards. The show was broadcast on Irish radio and a packed audience greatly enjoyed the show.
This year (2012), 15 years later DMS have once again been invited to present final cabaret at the Theatre Royal, Waterford.
In 1999 as the decade came to a close, Downfield received the ultimate accolade to represent the Scottish Area of the National Operatic and Dramatic Association at their centenary celebrations in London. Downfield were asked to be part of a show in the Royal Albert Hall and give an 8 minute piece. The show called “Celebration” was compered by Bonnie Langford and Christopher Biggins with special guests Howard Keel and Cy Coleman. DMS’s contribution was called “Razzle Dazzle”. It was without doubt t the quickest eight minutes in their history but it was an experience and no- one involved will ever forget.
Another part of the centenary celebrations came to the City of Dundee where the Scottish Festival of Amateur Theatre held in the Whitehall Theatre.. Over 32 society representatives and 800 individuals were involved or appeared on stage over the week. Each evening had its own theme including a “Youth Showcase” “Grand Opera and Drama” “Light Opera” and “Musicals” etc. The DMS Clubrooms were used as the Festival Club after each evening’s performance.
In 1995, the Society were once again asked to present the Midnight Cabaret at Peebles Hotel Hydro. They also presented a cabaret at the Coylumbridge Hotel in Aviemore.
1999 also saw the start of their youth group who presented a sell out production of “Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” in the Gardyne Theatre, Dundee
Other productions in the 90’s included “Annie get Your Gun”, and “42nd Street”.
In the 90’s the Society embarked on a group of variety type shows which they entitled “Showtime”, “Showtime - The Second Generation”, “Showtime - The Wedding”, and “Showtime - The Final Frontier”, which were all created and written by the DMS production team. These shows were based on a silly, but highly successful format, of a spaceship that travelled through time and space, and followed the antics of the crew, but specifically of Captain I. Mincharge and his assistant Pru Dential These shows ran for four years in that format and were very popular.
Around the mid nineties It was becoming very difficult to choose suitable and cost effective musicals so DMS revived the Showtime theme in 1998 after presenting a show called “Something Different” in 1996 where professional guests, George Duffus, Ian Lees and Eddie Rose joined them in variety.
It was also the decade where the number of shows each year increased to three when a more regular autumn production was added These included “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” (Which was repeated the following January) “Godspell” and “Windy City” which were transferred to Waterford, “Chess” and “Return to the Forbidden Planet” which was repeated the following February, and of course “Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”.
The turn of the century arrived and Society productions increased to four shows per year for most of the decade of the Naughties. DMS also played in five venues in this period which were, The Whitehall Theatre, The Gardyne Theatre, The Caird Hall, The Theatre Royal Waterford, and the Starlight Showroom in Guthrie Street, Dundee.
It was an era of Rogers and Hammerstein shows with “South Pacific” and “Oklahoma” being firsts for the Society, and return productions of “Carousel” and “The King and I”
There was also a re-run of “Jesus Christ Superstar” previously produced in 1984 and once again a tremendous winner with the public, so much so that it was repeated again the following October
There were also another bunch of premiers for the city in “Scrooge - The Musical”, “Hot Mikado” and “Jekyll and Hyde - The Musical” and in 2002 another “Showtime” was presented
2003 was DMS’s 75th anniversary and they celebrated this milestone with a one night Showtime type performance in the Caird Hall, Dundee which they called “Made for Music”. It turned out to be the largest audience, for a single performance, that the Society had achieved to date, with 1757 people filling the venue for the celebration.
To recognise Downfield’s 75 years, Lord Provost John Letford hosted a civic reception in the City Chambers for the members of the Society. I real honour. Celebrations for the 75th also included a Grand Ball in the Invercarse Hotel where invited guests including Dundee Lord Provost and NODA officials enjoyed the sound of a big band and a spectacular firework display.
There were several autumn or summer shows and with the opening of DMS’s own theatrical space in their clubrooms which they named as the Starlight Showroom in 2009 the opportunities to present smaller more intimate shows became apparent.
But in the early part of the decade “The Boy Friend” and “Side By Side By Sondheim” were presented in the Gardyne Theatre, the former by the youth of the Society….. and the latter not!! “Oliver” and “Summer Holiday” were presented in the Whitehall Theatre with “Oliver” playing to an almost 100% attendance.
Downfield has never been afraid of taking a risk by presenting something entirely different and when “Batboy the Musical” became available for amateurs straight from the Shaftesbury Theatre in the London’s West end they grabbed the chance.
It was another production that they transported across the Irish Sea to Waterford and where another award was achieved when they winning the best stage direction by Craig Shearer
An even greater risk was taken when “The Full Monty” was chosen as the autumn show of 2008. It was a massive hit, with an entirely different audience than what was unusual at a DMS show, and once again due to the massive success of the production, the Society repeated it in January the following year.
The inaugural production in the Starlight Showroom was the Broadway hit and another premier for Dundee of “Smokey Joe's Café”. Patrons and cast were delighted with the new venue. It was quickly followed by a DMS favourite when the youth section once again presented “Godspell”
In 2002 Downfield decided to “cut their own album”. It was a great experience and a large number of members took part. Studios and a record producer were booked and the resulting CD called “Made for Music” hit the record shops in 2003 and was on sale at the Caird Hall celebration. It didn’t make top of the pops, but it is a great piece of history for the club and yet another special opportunity for Society members and followers to experience and enjoy
In 2004, and for the third time, DMS were invited to present the Midnight Cabaret at the National Operatic and Dramatic Association’s Scottish Conference at Peebles Hotel Hydro.
Also in 2004 the Society’s Honorary President, Norman Robertson, was announced as Dundee’s Citizen of the Year and In 2006 he was awarded the OBE by the Queen at Holyrood House in Edinburgh.
2006 saw their 21st year in the Guthrie Street premises with a party where Margaret Davidson, DMS’s cleaner for all of these years, was made a patron of the Society.
In 2008 the society returned to the Caird Hall to celebrate their 80th Birthday with a show called “Happy Birthday Downfield”, this time for two performances and in the same year Downfield were once again honoured at a civic reception once again in the city Chambers to recognise their contribution to entertainment the City of Dundee
Many cabarets were presented in this decade including the usual visits to Peebles and also the wonderful St Andrews Bay Hotel in Fife, with several Tayside hotels including, The Hilton Hotel, The Invercarse Hotel, and The Apex Hotel.
In 2008 Downfield's young member's were honoured to be asked to open the Evening Telegraph Youth Awards at the Apex Hotel Dundee also on the bill were the X Factor's MacDonald Brothers
The starlight showroom opened in 2009. The decision to refurbish the premises to house a small intimate theatrical space came from the need to find a venue to present musicals and plays that could not be financially viable in other venues in the city or would be more suitable for smaller audiences. Designs were submitted and approved and work was completed in a very short time, and resulted in a venue that can hold around 175 depending upon the stage or auditorium layout which can be varied. Other groups can, and have been using the “Starlight” and feedback has been tremendous. Since it opened there have been around ten productions and the excellent reputation is building. The society looks forward to many more successful productions in the Starlight Showroom
As the 2010 decade got underway we would see the following:
• The Starlight Showroom would receive its first bookings from other theatrical groups.
• DMS would presented its longest ever run of a musical.
• DMS would produce its first Play.
• DMS would continue to present premiers in the City.
• DMS would continue to be a sought after Cabaret provider.
• Preparation would make another visit to Waterford.
• The Society’s Website would become a source for publicity, sales, and information and would be widely viewed across the globe.
• The Society will win the NODA National UK poster competition.
• DMS would continue to be a regular at both the City of Dundee Christmas Light Switch-on and the Broughty Ferry Christmas Light Switch-on
• Once again the viability of the Whitehall Theatre would be in doubt, but it would rise once again and open with a successful DMS Panto
In 2010 and 2011 Thomson Leng Musical Society and Apex production both presented shows in the Starlight Showroom. They were the first local groups to use the facility and both shows were very successful.
In 2010 Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” became available for Amateur Societies and DMS were fortunate to gain a licence to perform the show. They presented “Beauty” in the Whitehall Theatre for eleven performances, which was the longest run of any musical in their history (beating “Barnum” in 1995 by one show). It was the most extravagant production in their history, and whilst not a tremendous financial success, it was a true spectacular and a great hit with the audiences.
Other shows in 2010 were two one night stands ,“The Swinging Sixties”, and “A Night at the Musicals” and a youth production of “Zombie Prom” in the Starlight Showroom with the annual pantomime being “Cinderella” in the Whitehall Theatre.
In 2010, DMS won the Thomson Leng Trophy at the National Operatic and Dramatic Association’s Annual Conference in Durham for the United Kingdom Poster Competition for their entry of “Dick Whittington”. This is the first time the Society has won the National Poster Completion but they did win the National Programme Competition in 1984/1985 for entry of “Jesus Christ Superstar”.
Over the past few years DMS have become regulars at the switch-on of the Christmas lights in the Dundee presenting a regular stage appearance. They have also regularly taken part in the Christmas light switch-on in Broughty Ferry, Dundee.
In 2011 DMS brought another London West End and Broadway hit to The Starlight Showroom and the City of Dundee. For the very first time the Society presented a play, the fabulous “The 39 Steps”. Four actors playing every role, all 150 plus, in Alfred Hitchcock’s renowned film transferred to the stage and depicting the dilemma of Richard Hannay’s run from the law.
Other productions of 2011 were yet another premier “The Musical of Musicals (The Musical)” and a youth production of “A Slice Of Saturday Night” both in the Starlight Showroom and a return of “The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas” .
In 2011 the viability of the Whitehall Theatre was once again in doubt, so much so, that the Company that operated the theatre, The Whitehall Theatre (Dundee) Limited, was placed in the hands of a liquidator and wound up. The Whitehall Theatre Trust, the organisation that owned the Theatre buildings, in partnership with The Dundee City Council and Leisure and Culture Dundee, decided to take over the operation of the Theatre and opened for business once more. DMS were able to present a very successful pantomime “Aladdin” to a large audience in a 9 show run.
Bookings for cabarets continue to increase with regular visits to Peebles Hotel Hydro, The Invercarse and Hilton Hotels in Dundee and also The MacDonald Hotel in Edinburgh. They also entertained at the Tesco Employee of the Year award in 2010 in the Bonar Hall, Dundee.
THE DMS TIMELINE
Click on a button below to see a journey through the years in photographs
In the late 2000’s the DMS website was developed but it was not until 2012 that the site was expanded and improved and further developed to what it is today. The website ensures that the Society are “hit” by surfers from all parts of the world and in recent years tickets have been ordered through the site from Canada, Australia, The United States, and several European countries for their shows
In 2012 DMS suffered from the national financial recession in the UK and were forced, for the first time in their history, to cancel their spring production of "Anything Goes".
In 2012 Tayport Musical Society would join forces with St Peter and St Paul’s Musical Society and perform a Successful show in the Starlight
Later in 2012 DMS were invited to present the Closing Award Ceremony Cabaret at the Waterford International Music Festival which they did to a standing ovation in the Theatre Royal. This was the second time the Society had entertained at the awards ceremony, the first being in 1997, and was another example of the very close friendship that DMS have with Waterford
Also in 2012, DMS once again ventured into the world of Drama when they presented the Scottish Amateur Premier of “Calendar Girls” and Mother Goose played to over 6000 happy Panto goers in December 2012 in the newly managed Whitehall Theatre, continuing to be the Premier Panto in the City
In December 2012 the DMS website registered a quarter of a million hits
2013 saw another Tayside Premier presented by DMS with Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Whistle Down the Wind" at the Whitehall Theatre which received significant critical acclaim
2013 also saw DMS presenting the Scottish Amateur Premier (and only the third amateur company in the UK) of Monty Python's Spamalot once again to great public acclaim.
The Starlight Showroom continued to be popular with other theatrical groups and Thomson Leng Youth Music Theatre presented a highly successful "Seussical The Musical"
Another highly acclaimed Panto "Dick Whittington, a 29th year at Peebles and the Starlight hosting a community based group Panto saw 2013 closing as one of DMS's best years.
2014 was another highlight year for DMS. Once again the Cabaret group appeared in the Invercarse Hotel appearing at the Dundee FC Supporters club Dinner.
April saw the return of that audience favourite “Oliver” and another play in the Starlight with the hilarious “Vicar of Dibley”.
In keeping up a tradition of presenting premiers “The Drowsy Chaperone” was presented in the Starlight.
The Whitehall Theatre changed Management once again and the new team apointed a Venue Coordinator and Technical Supervisor. A new company (The Dundee Whitehall Theatre Limited) was established with Kenny Christie Lina Waghorn and Graeme Smith as directors. The Theatre is now a viable and successful organisation and through significant refurbishment is attracting substancial bookings and incrased business
For the fourth time in their history DMS returned to Peebles Hydro to present the Midnight Cabaret at the Scottish National Conference. Unfortunately after 30 years due to a change of management Downfield’s annual Christmas and New Year Cabarets at the Hydro came to an end. Truly an end of an era.
The year finished off with a record breaking Panto “Jack and the Beanstalk”.
2015 started with another Tayside Premier and a highly acclaimed production of “Sister Act” followed by several "Cabarets at the Starlight " and "Babes in the Wood"
Dms continues to present cabarets at the Invercarse Hotel for Dundee Rotary and Dundee Football Club
2016 saw another premier to the City when "Signin' in the Rain" was presented at the Whitehall with the audience experiencing a full rainstorm on stageg
In another first for DMS, Annie was presented by DMS. This show allowed the Society to introduce many youngsters to performing with the Society and in 2017 the idea of having our own youth company came to fruition when DMSYouth was born. DMSYouth’s first production were junior versions of Disney’s The Jungle Book and Aladdin. The workshops attracted over 100 youngsters and over 80 were successful in gaining a place in the company.
Also in 2017 DMS secured the rights for Priscilla Queen of the Desert. This show was another amazing success with packed audiences and once again saw a bus on stage and probably the most lavish costumes ever seen on the Whitehall.
Several Cabarets were performed in the City in 2017
Large amount of repair work was completed on the fabric of the Clubrooms
The Wizard of Oz. another show that DMS had never presented was performed in Autumn 2017 and the year was completed with the annual Panto at the ‘Whitehall, Aladdin, Which turned out to be the most successful panto in the society’s history
In 2018 DMS celebrated its 90th Birthday and a special party was held in the Woodlands Hotel.
Once again a bus appeared on the Whitehall stage when Cliff Richards Summer Holiday made its return.
DMSYouth’s 2017 success was repeated with two productions, Disney’s Alice in Wonderland Jnr and Disney’s The Little Mermaid Jnr
In 2019 the Big top was once again recreated in the Whitehall Theatre with the return of the high wire spectacular Barnum followed by a DMSYouth of Pinocchio and Honk.
In 2020 British Theatre like all large gatherings was deeply affected by the Coronavirus pandemic and all theatres were closed result in the cancellation or postponement of all theatrical production. As a result the highly anticipated Tayside Premier of Shrek was postponed. All other production including the 2020 panto had to be rearranged. For the first time in over 50 years no Panto was performed at the Whitehall Theatre