Alloa Musical Players

Keeping musical theatre live since 1952

Our Story

Here we do our best to keep a record of our activities and key personalities

1952

The earliest records we have of Alloa Amateur Operatic Society come from photograph albums started by David Dewar of Alloa and continued by his son Alan, who has kindly supplied many photographs.  There are photographs of some of the founder members performing with "Dollar Operatic" in various operettas.  Alloa Operatic Society was, they say, re-formed following the end of World War 2, although we cannot find any reference to its pre-war existence.


The President in 1952 was Victor E Cuthbert.  David Dewar was a committee member. A concert was given that year in Alloa Town Hall with songs from members and featuring Victor E Cuthbert at the Town Hall Organ. (The rear wall of the stage was in those days home to an impressive pipe organ).  We have a photograph of participants in our Gallery. (Scroll down to 1952!)


There was no production in this first year but rehearsals began for the first post-war production, HMS Pinafore.


Here are names of performers remembered from the 1950s (some of them have signed the first programme below!): David Dewar, Jean Kirkwood, Grant Horne, Margaret Laidlaw, Emma McClements, Elizabeth Mudie, Molly Michie, Gordon & Maureen McFarlane, Alice Binnie, Arthur Muddiman, Sandy Smith, Bob and Bess McFarlane and David Hunter (pictured right) – who remained an active member until his death in 2018. 



1953

Hon. President                      A. R. Proctor esq.

President                              Victor E Cuthbert esq.

Chairman                              Mr William G. McLeod

Hon. Secretary & Treasurer  Mr Jack Allan

Hon. Assistant Secretary      Miss J. Wilson


The company performed:


HMS Pinafore


Music                                    Arthur Sullivan

Lyrics                                    W S Gilbert


Producer                             James Mercer

Musical Director                  John Hunter McBain

Accompanist                       Mrs James (Dorothy) Allan

1954

President                         Victor E Cuthbert


This year’s show was: 


Pirates of Penzance


Music                             Arthur Sullivan

Lyrics                             W S Gilbert


Producer                        Marion Locke

Musical Director            John Hunter McBain


In 2014, 60 years later, AMP gave a revival of this Victorian classic – with a few modern twists! 

1955

President                      Victor E Cuthbert


The Mikado


Music                           Arthur Sullivan

Lyrics                           W S Gilbert


Producer                      Ian Stewart

Musical Director          John Hunter McBain


You can see that Gilbert and Sullivan operettas were in vogue!

Here are David Dewar, William McEwan, Helen McLean, Margaret Laidlaw, and Jean Kirkwood.


There are more images in Gallery (scroll to 1955)

1956

President                        Victor E Cuthbert


The Gondoliers


Music                             Arthur Sullivan

Lyrics                             W S Gilbert


Producer                        Ian Stewart

Musical Director             John Hunter McBain

1957

President                      Victor E Cuthbert


Alloa Amateur Operatic Society breaks away from G&S!


A Country Girl


Music                          Lionel Monckton


Lyrics                          Adrian Ross & Percy Greenbank


Producer                     Margaret Eadie

Musical Director          John Hunter McBain

1958

Back to G&S!


President                Victor E Cuthbert


Iolanthe


Producer                Margaret Eadie

Musical Director    John Hunter McBain


Picture from the Alloa production - David Dewar far right.


We thought you might be interested in checking out some local advertisers in the 1958 programme in Gallery

1959

President                      Victor E Cuthbert


Quaker Girl


Music                            Lionel Monkton

Lyrics                            Adrian Ross and Percy Greenbank

Book                             James T Tanner


Producer                       Margaret Eadie

Musical Director           John Hunter McBain


Peek inside the programme in Gallery (Scroll down to 1959)

1960

President                            Victor E Cuthbert


Another Edwardian operetta:


Veronique


Music                                  Andre Messager

Lyrics in English by             Henry Hamilton


Producer                             Margaret Eadie

Musical Director                  Arthur Muddiman


Picture from the Alloa production - pretty sure that's the only time a donkey has appeared on the Town Hall stage!


In Gallery you will find some of the Programme content - scroll down to 1960

1961

President                  Victor E Cuthbert 


And back to Gilbert & Sullivan


HMS Pinafore & Trial by Jury


Music Arthur Sullivan

Lyrics W S Gilbert


Producer                 Muriel Brown

              

                               This was Muriel's first show with us 

                               She directed 20!


Musical Director     John Hunter McBain


There are two cast photographs, one from each piece, in Gallery 1961

1962

A new President         Grant P Horne


And a very sudden leap forward into shows of the 1950s and the magic of Rogers & Hammerstein's Carousel (April 1945, Broadway). This is not an Operetta - it's a Musical! Hello USA ...


Carousel


Music                        Richard Rogers

Lyrics                        Oscar Hammerstein ll


Producer                   Muriel Brown

Musical Director        John Hunter McBain

1963

President                     Grant P Horne


Loving our Rogers & Hammerstein ….


Oklahoma


Oklahoma (March 1943 on Broadway) is one of a handful of turning-point musicals that changed the direction of musical theatre ... a real break-away from operetta and music hall into an integrated production - songs, dance and story as a seamless whole. And these are musicals that became motion pictures ...


Music Richard Rogers

Lyrics Oscar Hammerstein ll

Book Green Grow the Lilacs by Lynn Riggs


Producer Muriel Brown

Musical Director Robert Younger



1964

President                 Grant P Horne


And back to operetta …


White Horse Inn


Music                      Ralph Benatzky & Robert Stoltz

Lyrics                      Hans Muller-Einigen


Producer                Muriel Brown

Musical Director     Robert Younger


We have one photograph of this production in Gallery

1965

President            Grant P Horne


Castles in Spain


Music                  Harry Fragson

Lyrics                  Eustace Ponsonby

Book                   Cosmo Hamilton


Producer             Muriel Brown

Musical Director Robert Younger

Ballet Mistress    Jessie Murray


This was the year Jessie Murray became a long-serving choreographer with AAOS - to be succeeded by her daughter Barbara in the 1980s.


We have a cast photo from the Programme in Gallery

1966

President                                    Grant P Horne


We select from the 1920s …


The Desert Song


Music                                         Sigmund Romberg

Lyrics                                         Otto Harbach, Oscar                                                                    Hammerstein II & 

                                                  Frank Mundell


Producer                                   Muriel Brown

Musical Director                        Robert Younger


Sets by                                     George McIntosh

1967

President                         Grant P Horne


We move forward to the 40s and discover Lerner & Lowe … 

and Scotland as you never knew it!


Brigadoon


Music                              Frederick Lowe

Lyrics                              Alan Jay Lerner


Producer                         Muriel Brown

Musical Director              Robert Younger


See highlights of the Programme in Gallery

1968

President                      Grant P Horne


And back to operetta – the best – Offenbach! Yes – the one with the Can Can!


Orpheus in the Underworld


Music                         Jacques Offenbach

Lyrics                         Hector Cremieux & Ludovic Halevy


Producer                   Muriel Brown

Musical Director        Robert Younger


Here is Tom Forsyth as Orpheus

1969

President                 David M Dewar


A new President this year - and more lush music – this time Strauss!


The Gypsy Baron


Music                      Johann Strauss II

Lyrics                      Phil Park


Producer                 Muriel Brown

Musical Director      Robert Younger

1970

President                           David M Dewar


Still with operetta with the finest of scores – this time Franz Lehar.


The Merry Widow


Producer                            Muriel Brown

Musical Director                 Robert Younger

1971

President                  David M Dewar


The 1950s reassert themselves with this blockbuster …


My Fair Lady


Music                      Frederick Lowe

Lyrics                      Alan Jay Lerner


Book Based on the Pygmalion tale immortalised by George Bernard Shaw


Producer                Muriel Brown

Musical Director     Robert Younger


Pictured are Margaret Stewart and Tom Forsyth in Alloa's production.

1972

President                         David M Dewar


Then we time travel back to Victorian and the frothiest G&S - performed by the company for the second time. (See 1956)


The Gondoliers


Music                              Arthur Sullivan

Lyrics                              W S Gilbert


Producer                         Muriel Brown

Musical Director              Robert Younger

Ballet Mistress                Jessie Murray

Piano Accompanist         Archie Ewing


Jessie Murray, Director of the Murray School of Dance in Alloa, is now in charge of choreography - another enduring relationship - with Jessie's daughter Barbara taking on this role later in our history.


Picture shows some well-known and much loved Clackmannanshire performers from this era (clockwise from top left): Alistair Buchanan, Robert Mitchell, Dorothy Kendall, Tom Forsyth and Margaret Stewart.

1973

21st Anniversary Year


President                      David M Dewar


And back to the 1950s and the outstanding partnership of Rogers & Hammerstein


The King and I


Music                            Richard Rogers

Lyrics                            Oscar Hammerstein ll

Book                             Margaret Langdon:  

                                     Anna and the King of Siam


Producer                      Muriel Brown

Musical Director           Robert Stein

Ballet Mistress             Jessie Murray

Piano Accompanist      Archie Ewing


And the company also performed a concert:


Songs from the Shows


Musical Director           Robert Stein (his first year with us)

Producer                      Muriel Brown

Accompanist                Archie Ewing

Picture shows the production team for the 21st birthday.

The company also performed "Songs from the Shows" in Alloa Town Hall in December 1973.  We note the programme price was 5p.

1974

President                        David M Dewar


Back to operetta – still the very best with this adaptation of "Die Fledermaus" by Johann Strauss


Pink Champagne


Producer                        Muriel Brown

Musical Director             Robert Stein

1975

President                         David M Dewar


A contemporary blockbuster ….


Hello Dolly


Music & Lyrics Jerry Herman

Book Based on The Matchmaker by Thornton Wilder


Producer                        Muriel Brown

Musical Director             Bob Stein

Choreographer              Jessie Murray


Songs from the Shows (concert)


Producer                        Muriel Brown

Musical Director             Bob Stein

1976

President                           David M Dewar


Our first Irving Berlin!


Call me Madam


Music                                 Irving Berlin

Lyrics                                 Howard Lindsay & Russell Crouse


Producer                            Muriel Brown

Musical Director                 Bob Stein

1977

President                  David M Dewar


Oklahoma!


Music Richard Rogers

Lyrics Oscar Hammerstein ll


This ground-breaking 1943 musical, building on the innovations of the earlier Show Boat, epitomized the development of the "book musical", a musical play where the songs and dances are fully integrated into a well-made story with serious dramatic goals that are able to evoke genuine emotions other than laughter. The company first performed it in 1963 - it has and will continue to stand the test of time ....


Book Green Grow the Lilacs by Lynn Riggs


Producer                   Muriel Brown         

Musical Director        Bob Stein

Choreographer         Jessie Murray


Poster here from the days we had to hand-draw our publicity material - and remember Lettraset?


Jubilee Songs from the Shows (concert)



1978/9

We have a new:


President                          Peter Harrower


King’s Rhapsody


Music and Book               Ivor Novello

Lyrics                               Christopher Hassall


Producer                          Muriel Brown

Musical Director               Bob Stein

Choreography                  Effie McCowan

Accompanist                    Archie Ewing


There is an interesting story behind this production taking place in January 1979 rather than in October 1978.  Just before our production was due to be presented, Blue Asbestos was discovered in Alloa Town Hall and the building was closed down.


This year the death was recorded of Malcolm Ross, for 20 years Secretary of Alloa Amateur Operatic Society.

1979

President                            Peter Harrower


Despite staging the postponed 1978 show in January this year, the company also managed to find time to fit in a concert:


The Musical Stage


Swiftly followed by another show:

 

Finian’s Rainbow


Music                             Burton Lane

Lyrics                             E Y Harburg

Book                              Harburg & Fred Saidy


Producer                       Muriel Brown

Musical Director            Robert Stein

Choreography               Effie McCowan

Accompanist                 Archie Ewing


(Sadly this was to be Muriel's last year with us)


Click then scroll down to 1979 for more images

1980

President                                    Peter Harrower


This year we record the sad death of our long-time Producer, Muriel Brown  Bob Morson from Cumbernauld was her replacement and went on to direct a number of successful shows and pantos with Alloa.


The company performed a concert:


Songs from the Shows 


And the main production was:


Fiddler on the Roof


Music                                          Jerry Bock

Lyrics                                          Sheldon Harnick

Book                                           Joseph Stein


Producer                                     Bob Morson

Musical Director                          Robert Stein

Ballet Mistress                            Effie McCowan

Accompanist                               Archie Ewing


Click then scroll down to 1980 for more images

1981

President                            Peter Harrower


Something Old, Something New

Concert of showtunes and Old Time Music Hall

Devonvale Hall


Producer                            Lindsey Spowage

Musical Director                 Bob Stein


Brigadoon


Music                                  Frederick Lowe

Lyrics & Book                     Alan Jay Lerner


Producer                             Bob Morson

Musical Director                  Bob Stein

Accompanist                       Archie Ewing


Click here then scroll down to 1981 for more images

1982

President                             Peter Harrower


The annual production was cancelled this year - very occasionally circumstances conspire to make it impossible to go continue.  So there were two concerts - the first in March ("Showtime") with two performances, the first in Lornshill Academy, the second in the Macrobert Theatre at Stirling University.  The second, "Party Pieces" was in December, over three nights in Alloa Town Hall.  Here's the "Party Pieces" programme of numbers.


Showtime (concert)


Producer                             Lindsey Spowage

Musical Director                  Bob Stein


Party Pieces (concert)


Producer                             Lindsey Spowage

Musical Director                  Bob Stein


Click here then scroll down to 1982 for more images

1983

President                             Peter Harrower


Follow the Band (concert)


Musical Director                  Bob Stein



Click here and scroll down to 1983 to see inside programme which was, incidentally, hand-written by Alistair Buchanan - a stalwart of our company, Secretary for many years and co-ordinator of a very successful concert party.  Alistair's skills as a draughtsman were legendary - we often learned from hand-written music and lyrics.  He was also a fine performer - singing "Old Man River" in the 1984 production of Showboat and Tevye in the 1980 production of "Fiddler on the Roof".  His rendition of "Mud, Mud, Glorious Mud" in concerts was also memorable!

1984

President                               Peter Harrower

Showboat

Music                                    Jerome Kern
Book & Lyrics                        Oscar Hammerstein 11

A turning point in the musical stage when first presented in 1927, this was a completely new genre – the musical play as distinguished from musical comedy. Now … the play was the thing, and everything else was subservient to that play. Its themes include racial prejudice and tragic, enduring love. The musical contributed such classic songs as "Ol' Man River", "Make Believe", and "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man".

Producer                               Jeanette MacKay
Musical Director                    Robert Stein
Choreographer                     Barbara Findlay
Accompanist                         Archie Ewing
Stage Manager                     Ross Duncan
Wardrobe                              Rose Simmons

Also in 1984 (December), Alloa Amateur Operatic Society got together with The Murray School of Dance (Jessie Murray was our Choreographer for many years and her daughter Barbara Findlay followed in her footsteps), to stage:

SONG AND DANCE

 ... which was performed in The Devonvale Hall, Tillicoultry for one night, then Alloa Town Hall for two nights.

1985

President                               Dorothy Wright

This was Dorothy's first year as President.

Annie Get Your Gun

Music and lyrics                    Irving Berlin

Producer                              Jeanette MacKay
Musical Director                    Robert Stein
Choreographer                     Barbara Findlay


1986

President                               Dorothy Wright

The Gypsy Baron

The company previously presented this show in 1969 - so a nostalgic return to European operetta.

Producer                               Arthur Sutton
Musical Director                    Robert Stein
Choreographer                     Barbara Findlay
Accompanist                         Archie Ewing
Stage Manager                     Ross Duncan
Wardrobe                              Rose Simmons

1987

President                       Dorothy Wright

Carousel

This show was first staged by the company in 1962

Music                            Richard Rodgers
Lyrics                            Oscar Hammerstein 11

Producer                       Bob Morson
Musical Director            Bob Stein
Choreographer             Barbara Findlay

1988

This was a memorable year for musical theatre in Alloa.  It is worth explaining what happened.  Clackmannanshire Council had developed a Leisure Services team which was highly supportive of the arts in general.  The team was led by Douglas Bloomer and within the team worked an enthusiastic young officer, Rosa MacPherson.  At the time of writing (2020), both these individuals still contribute in their own ways to the arts in Clackmannanshire.

In 1988 The Council agreed to support a daring venture as a highlight of their annual Arts Festival. This was to draw on the wider performing talents of the community and present the musical "Cabaret" in Alloa Town Hall.  (Use the link to see images - scroll down the Gallery to 1988)

Lyrics                                     Fred Ebb
Music                                    John Kander
Novel, Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood

They enlisted Graeme Cairns of the Alman Drama Club as Director, and Bill Jarvis, a local Solicitor as Musical Director.  

Performers from The Alman Drama Club and Alloa Amateur Operatic Society as well as other enthusiastic members of the community gathered together to rehearse and perform the show in June.

Around 50% of the cast and crew were from what is now AMP, therefore this, and the subsequent Arts Festival productions, are worthy of a mention in the AMP archive.  The backing of the Leisure Services team and the local Arts Council allowed risks to be taken that progressed local musical theatre in an unprecedented way.  Sadly such funding in due course dried up - but the legacy lives on.

Alloa Musical Players in 1988 also presented in March:

The Pajama Game

Music                        Richard Adler & Jerry Ross
Book                         George Abbot & Richard Bissell

President                  Dorothy Wright
Producer                  Bob Morson
Musical Director       Bob Stein
Choreographer         Barbara Findlay

And in December:

Music Box (concert in partnership with Alloa Brass Band)

Producer                Lindsey Spowage
Musical Director     Bob Stein

All in all - a very busy year - the first of several such .....