East - Committee
Don McKayRegional Councillor / COUNCILLOR
I have been involved in amateur theatre for 20 years in every aspect from society committee chairman to front of house manager, stage manager, lighting and sound operator, pit musician, director and actor, performing many lead roles during this time in both musicals and dramatic plays. I became a NODA East Regional Representative for District 1 in 2010 and was in post for three years before becoming a National Councillor. My professional background for the past 40 years has been in the electrical industry as an engineer. I am married to Maxine and have four grown up children and six grandchildren. Family career and NODA take up almost all of my time, however I do like to squeeze in the odd onstage performance or directing role when possible.
Catherine DixeyREGIONAL SECRETARY
Catherine has been involved with amateur theatre for more years than she cares to remember. She appeared in numerous pantos, musicals and plays, ( some of which were NODA award winners) with local Societies before hanging up her dancing shoes. She has also been involved with a variety of jobs on the production side of theatre, and has directed pantos for her local Society for several years.
She joined the NODA committee about 8 years ago as Membership Secretary and is currently their Minute Secretary.
She is married to Derek who was also a local amateur actor; has 2 grown up married children and 2 lovely grandchildren. When not busy with all her theatre work she loves walking and does wedding flowers for friends and family.
Julie ArmstrongREGIONAL REPRESENTATIVE (District E01)
I started out as a ballroom and latin dancer (think Strictly!), travelling the world to represent the UK in competitions and championships, so performing is in my blood! This eventually led to my involvement in the theatre, in the north-west, where I became an actor for many years, eventually teaching drama and dance. I was also involved, behind the scenes, in amateur theatre and NODA. My husband’s job brought us to Peterborough where I have now have four performing arts schools. My daughter is currently studying musical theatre in London and we can often (perhaps a little too often!) be found in a theatre there, watching all sorts of plays and musicals.
Richard FittREGIONAL REPRESENTATIVE (District E02)
Brought up in Bedford, where his father taught at Bedford School he had his first acting role in the school play playing the Devil in Marlowe's Doctor Faustaus in (he thinks?)1967, Richard was drawn back into Am Dram proper almost decade later, when he lived in New Ash Green in Kent and, after one too many beers one night was asked to play the baddy in a Panto, which had been written by a close friend. He was bitten and has been acting in and directing plays and musicals ever since, and after 28 years in Kent moved back to the Bedford / St Neots Area in 2002 and, apart from a brief sabbatical has been the Chairman of St Neots Players since 2006. He started covering the odd review here and there for Don McKay, when Don was the area 1 rep, until he was asked to cover district 2 because of the untimely death of the previous rep, Keith Pendle becoming the full time District 2 rep in 2015. And the rest as they say is yet to make history.
Nova HorleyREGIONAL REPRESENTATIVE (District E03)
I started dancing classes at 2½ in Hastings, winning a scholarship to the Arts Educational School in Tring when I was 10. When I was 12 I was part of the junior chorus in a production of “Dick Whittington” at the Watford Palace Theatre, where Jimmy Perry was writer/director, I then worked professionally as a singer and dancer doing mainly summer seasons and pantomimes – including Butlins hotels for 2 summers in the revue company and pantomime at the New Theatre, Oxford. Later I did semi-pro cabaret work, whilst working as a dispenser’s assistant in a chemist. I met my husband John in 1968 when we both appeared in a production of “The New Moon” for High Wycombe Operatic Society, and we married in 1970. I worked for the same sales promotion company for 32 years until my retirement in 2015. I became a NODA Rep in 2002, and also review amateur shows for the Luton News. I have two children (both are married) and two granddaughters I love performing in shows either as a principal or in the chorus, and have also choreographed numerous pantomimes, revues and musicals. My main interests outside the theatre are my husband, family, home and books. I love seeing and reviewing shows, and never get tired of going to the theatre – both amateur and professional.
Stephen HayterREGIONAL REPRESENTATIVE / WEBSITE ACCESS (District E04N)
Julie PetrucciREGIONAL REPRESENTATIVE / MEMBERSHIP SECRETARY (District E04S)
Susan DupontREGIONAL REPRESENTATIVE (District E05)
Following a lack-lustre (tall and awkward) performance in back-row chorus in Bedfordshire, it was suggested ‘go backstage and try all disciplines to see where to fit in’, the best advice ever received: scenery, lighting, properties, some costume, the chance to work with other groups backstage, trips to Waterford. A move back to Norfolk with job as research scientist and looking for a group (temporarily in a make-up team) and found mid-sized company covering genres musical, play, pantomime. How fortunate that new director (professional theatre stage director and Anglia TV floor manager) was looking for an assistant to train as stage director (combo stage manager/ production secretary), what an opportunity. Also guesting with other Norfolk groups as needed backstage. Encouragement to attend NODA Operatic Summer School at Ripon with a chance to work with the 3 professional directors as Stage Manager Excerpts, a link with crew and classes for about ten years. As Regional Rep. District 5 (28 societies) cover a wide area mostly rural with centre at Norwich: ‘rooms’ or village halls through smaller theatres up to professional Theatre Royal; so many differing skills and disciplines, talents abounding in unlikely venues, and so many friends. With societies now frequently doing more than one production per year, continuing stage crew but timing means no longer stage management. Add 2 days a month as volunteer guide for Sainsbury Centre Arts at UEA. In 2014 received NODA President’s Cup as a Regional Rep, and 2016 saw NODA Gold (50 years) and the award Hon. NODA Member for 25 years as a Regional Rep.
Terry RymerREGIONAL REPRESENTATIVE (District E06)
Forty odd years have flown by...from Widow Twankey in 1977 for Lowestoft Players to President Roosevelt in 'Annie' last year. Too many roles to mention but favourite was as Captain Andy in 'Showboat' for HAODS (Henley Amateur Operatic Soc) for whom I was Chairman for ten years at the Kenton Theatre. Had been with Dockyard Review Players in Plymouth...have written directed and acted in many Pantos including Gorleston Pavilion Theatre. In the 1980s, as Sen Res Tutor at ' Marjon' College ran their new state of the art Theatre for students. Also Head of Student Advisory Services at Bucks Chilterns Universty for last ten working years. Now back in Lowestoft as Regional Rep and enjoying reviewing shows in the 'far East' Anglia Coastal and surrounding areas. Also Public Gov at James Paget Univ Hospital for last 8years. It's been quite a journey... Long may it continue! (but not too many lines please!!)
Decia RangerREGIONAL REPRESENTATIVE (District E07)
A life-long love of theatre eventually brought me to my local musical theatre company with the intention of just singing in the chorus. It wasn’t long before I was Membership Secretary and then Secretary. I have also been involved with publicity and marketing, programme and poster design, helping to run the box office, and was Production Secretary/Co-ordinator for several shows as well as being on stage.
I became an Assistant Rep in 2015 and took over from my predecessor as the Regional Rep at the beginning of 2016.
In a former life I was a Secretary for many years before taking time out to bring up my two children, one of whom now lives in Sydney. In more recent years I worked as a GP Receptionist. I am married to a very busy man and although his diary is always full to overflowing, he too is a theatre lover and enjoys accompanying me when I review shows.
My other hobby is gardening. I read all the books and then do it my way, which I find usually works!
Christine DavidsonREGIONAL REPRESENTATIVE (District E08)
Christine has been involved with NODA since starting Danbury Players over 20 years ago. She has performed on stage at many theatres including The Old Court, The Headgate and The Mercury. Christine has directed many NODA award winning productions and theatre is one of her great loves. She goes regularly to NODA Theatre Summer School and loved the new venue this year where she took the course Devising Drama with the fabulous tutor Sarah Osborne.
Tessa DaviesREGIONAL TREASURER / REGIONAL REPRESENTATIVE (District E10)
Tessa was, originally, a performer; spending 4 years working summer shows, pantomimes and variety shows as a young adult. Having decided that full time performing was not going to make a decent living, she gave it up and switched to amateur theatre as a hobby whilst she pursued a career in Sales and Customer Service.
For the past 40plus years she has performed in many shows, taking lead roles and smaller character roles. She started directing in 1992 with She Loves Me and has been directing musical shows ever since.
She has directed many productions for various Amateur Companies across the South East. Her sole directing credits include Grease, The Wiz, The Likes Of Us, The Wizard of Oz, Lionel Bart’s Blitz! & Oliver! Anything Goes, Singin In The Rain and many more.
She is one third of the creative team behind The Players Theatre Company. The Players most recent productions, with which Tessa has been fully involved, are Oklahoma (Oct 2018) Priscilla Queen of the Desert (June 2018) Curtains (November 2017) Hans Christian Andersen (December 2016). Earlier Players productions include Copacabana, White Christmas, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Acorn Antiques and many more. The Players Theatre Company was set up in 1999 and Tessa has been part of the creative team from the start.
She runs 3 Stagecoach Performing Arts Schools, in Brentwood, Wickford and Leigh-on-Sea. The schools have an annual showcase which Tessa plans, and directs. She is a licensed chaperone and has worked with the National Youth Music Theatre, the BBC and a number of TV production companies.
A PlattenREGIONAL REPRESENTATIVE (District E11)
I was born into very musical families both on my Father and Mother’s sides.
I started Piano lessons at 12 years taking piano exams with the Royal School of Music. and after two years had at my tutor’s advice professional singing lessons. I did a lot of solo singing in Essex and I was fortunate to have singing lessons with the late Helga Mott who had been a Professional Opera singer. I also joined Colchester Silver Band and could play several brass instruments which involved competitions in London.
I was invited to join Colchester Operatic Society in 1960 and played many parts with the group over 25 years. I was on the Executive Committee for 17 years. At a start up meeting in Sudbury to form a local operatic Society, which is now Sudbury Musicals Society, I became involved after moving into Sudbury, the society started performing in 1985, and I have been with the group ever since. I am the only founder member left in the group and have been made a life member. I was also Chair of the society for many years.
I played many parts on stage with the society, and then became Musical Director, covering around 40 shows with the group up until the present time. I was awarded a 50 years long service medal in 2010 so have now completed 58 years as a member of NODA. I am also Musical Director for St John’s Methodist Church Choir in Sudbury and Musical Director for The Music Makers, a singing group mainly entertaining at Residential Care Homes in Suffolk.
Before retiring I was Manager at Lavenham and also Flatford Tourist Information Centres, a very interesting and demanding job with on busy days around 700 people a day coming into the office with many overseas visitors all needing a great deal of help.
Pamela WhiteREGIONAL REPRESENTATIVE (District E12)
LIFE UPON THE WICKED STAGE AIN'T EVER WHAT A GIRL SUPPOSES, STAGE DOOR JOHNNIES AREN’T RAVING OVER YOU WITH GEMS AND ROSES, WHEN YOU LET A FELLER HOLD YOUR HAND WHICH MEANS AN EXTRA BEER OR SANDWICH, EVERYBODY WHISPERS”AINT HER LIFE A WHIRL”
Well this is a good description of what my life was. I began my singing and dancing career under my aunt who gave her all at all our family parties with my uncle on the accordion and my mother playing the piano. Because there was a war on and we lived in Edmonton, North London my mother was afraid to send me to dancing classes. Then we moved to Palmers Green after the war and I did get to sing at the tender age of twelve at our local Oddfellows Hall where my family were members, and to my mother’s horror I was offered a job with the local band. I only went a few times when Mum pulled the plug! Nice young girls didn’t do that sort of thing.
We moved back to Edmonton because of my Dad’s job and I met Johnny my husband a handsome sailor at Hornsea Town Hall at a Dance, he was with his sister but I didn’t know that at the time, and I was surprised when he asked me to dance, and we got singing together We met up again the following week and knew we were destined to sing together. Johnny came from a musical family they were poirrots on Worthing Pier! We decided to join a local Dance Group, rather like the Co-op Juniors today and we did stick out a bit like sore thumbs being the oldest in the group.
We did most of our rehearsing in Mum’s kitchen and eventually we put an act together. We did our first performance at our own wedding, I remember we sang a selection from “Guys and Dolls”, I sang “If I were a bell” and Johnny and his best man sang the title song. When asked if we were nervous at the marriage service, Johnny said “No I was too busy rehearsing my lines!”
My Dad was a member of the Edmonton Social Club and he got us our first booking for the huge sum of £2.50 each for a twenty minute spot. Previously Max Bygraves had performed there, so we were treading on hallowed boards.
After this, we got bookings all over North London and the local Working Mens Clubs. We pinched our pianist from our Dancing School who went by the wonderful name of Ivy Shakeshaft! If she could not come with us we had to rely on a resident pianist who sat out front, and we had no rehearsal with him but he took our music through a small hole just above where you put your music. Johnny used to put together our selections, all hand written and sometimes these pianists refused to play them, so we went home!!
Ivy was very light fingered and if we said we liked a piece of music belonging to another act, horror of horrors she once pinched itl We didn’t go there again for some while!
Don’t forget all these trips were by bus, we had no car in those days, and we had to carry out props, hats, guns, tap shoes and costumes. Our fee for our efforts was about £4.50, out of this we had to pay Ivy and pay our bus fare! Not much left, but we at least had some free music thanks to Ivy!
We played at Camberwell one weekend, a really rough joint and we had to change in the Gents Toilets. My Mother bless her had never seen one, and stood all out props in the urinal which flushed now and again soaking our props. We met some very strange characters at these venues, one chap sang “Mammy” by Al Jolson, and when he knelt down he had no soles to his shoes!! We met them all! One lady lost her polygrip and her teeth. We shared dressing rooms with jugglers, fire eaters (No precautions in those days).
The clubs did not pay a Manager and at one venue my Dad was marched to the door as they thought he was one! The worst we had was a club in Harrow where we played on a huge stage, unfortunately it was divided down the middle horizontally with a scenic wall and they had a shooting range on the other side, which they obviously forgot to tell us about. We sang as loud as we could over the bangs.
After we were married we moved to Upminster in Essex and joined the local Drama Group. My children Lindsay and Stephanie were born in Upminster and when they were aged four and eight I took on the job of Drama Coach. I had to have at least thirteen members to survive, and of course we soon went from drama to Musicals, our first panto being Cinderella, and Stephanie was a mouse and Lindsay was the pumpkin! The “Wizard of Oz“ soon followed and the children progressed to Munchkins.
Johnny wrote our own musicals one called “The Greeks Had a Word for it” which is based on the Lysistrata about women withholding their favours if the men went to war. It was very well received and an impresario (acting on television) presented it at Hornchurch Theatre.(We are hopeful that this will be revived by perhaps a local Society in Ipswich, one director is already reading it).
Johnny then wrote the musical of “Teahouse of the August Moon” but as this was copyright, we had to do a club performance only. I went on to play Amanda in Private Lives, and (between us) this was the only time I was tempted to stray with my leading man who played Elyot. I then played the lead in “The Dancing Years” again with the same co-star......oops!
We moved from Upmister because of Johnny’s job at Willis Faber moving to Ipswich. We went to one gig and marched onto the stage just to be alarmed that the piano keys had fallen out! The pianist turned out to be the mother of one of our very good friends to this day, small world!
Moving to Ipswich Johnny and I joined the Ipswich Operatic Society and I got to play the lead in my first show with them Mama Inez in Viva Mexico. The Operatic were going through rather tough times, and Johnny suggested that we do a revue which he would put together, raising the funds of the Society we called it “Sounds Familiar” and it became very popular to this day. Johnny was a very successful compere on the lines of Bob Monkhouse who he liked. Sadly I lost my Johnny to cancer some years ago and I miss him terribly.
My children have now taken my place on Stage, Stephanie has played the lead in Sunset Boulevard, Crazy for You, Guys and Dolls, Anything Goes, etc. Etc. Lindsay is the only one who did not follow our lead, as he now owns four classic cars, and they are his love, although he always supports us completely. My Grandaughter Chloe is at Drama School, having played a terrific Ado Annie in Oklahoma and Samuel has just played lead parts with CCT Productions, obtaining Junior Player of the year for Joseph in “Joseph and and his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat” Lindsays Girls Emily and Jemma are both in Ipswich Operatic, although Emily is an Architect and Jemma has just left College.
So now I am Noda Representative for my area of East Anglia where I hope I can pass on my experience. NODA are a wonderful organisation who set out to assist all Societies with good advice, insurance and many other helpful things necessary for a successful Society. My best friend and associate Linda Grey is my deputy. We both love the job and meet some great people.
I wish all those on the road to fame be very successful and love show business as much as we did.
Alexandra BerrimanYOUTH ADVISER / Youth
Even before Alex was on stage, she organised a talent show at her primary school called ‘Perform for Bosnia’ when she was 10! Alex did ballet dancing from the age of 3 to 20 and performed in lots of shows as part of the dance school. Alex has been involved in amateur dramatics since she was 13, and took the role of the boxing granny in Ernie’s Incredible Illucinations! From then on Alex was involved in many productions at school and in her free time, taking on both principal and ensemble roles. Alex started directing at a young age, when the youth group she started in was threatened with closure due to the lack of volunteers. In 2009, Alex founded KYDS Youth Drama Society, a group in Tiptree for 11-18 year olds. KYDS has grown year on year and recently became a registered charity. As well as producing 2 shows a year with KYDS, Alex spends a lot of her free time helping backstage with other shows. As well as amateur theatre, Alex has worked in professional theatre as a theatre manager, front of house and box office manager for a couple of years; Alex is currently the manager of a Creative Learning and Talent department. Alex also has a background in event management; producing events such as carnivals, charity concerts, wedding fayres etc. Alex is trained in technical theatre, business management and event management. Alex is Youth Adviser. Alex is also a member of the NODA Theatre Summer School committee; and attends as a student every year. She is a huge ambassador for the summer school and says she counts down to it every year! Recently, after being inspired at Summer School, Alex took a course in film making, and has since produced some promotional videos and is hoping to work on more in the future. In her spare time, Alex enjoys going to theatre (unsurprisingly!), baking, and dancing.
DeeDee DokeAWARDS SECRETARY / Assistant Regional Rep
Appointed Assistant Representative - East District 4S in 2016. I manage publicity/marketing for two very different musical theatre societies in Cambridge, and have the great honour of performing in both musicals and plays. The daughter of a theatre director, I'm a lifelong participant in and student of theatre, and have performed on stages in Germany, the US and Thailand -- as well as here. By day, I'm a content creative (editor/writer) and BSI [the British Standards Institute]'s Emerging Standards Maker 2016. Met husband Steve in a production of "The Crucible". He later ran a theatre my father had founded when I was a child.
Tina DoyleYOUTH ADVISER / Youth
Tina first trained as a ballet teacher and then went on to study Drama. She paid for her training by singing in local bands so it naturally followed that a musical career would follow. Tina became a professional actress appearing in the West End and touring extensively throughout the UK and abroad playing lead roles such as Mary Magdalene in Jesus Christ Superstar, Roxie Hart in Chicago, Sally in Me & My Girl and Peter in Peter Pan. Straight plays followed and soon she took on directing. Tina has directed numerous productions and has also built an excellent reputation as a Speech and Drama teacher/examiner travelling throughout the country and abroad, running workshops for all ages. Tina has been involved with a number of community projects and worked with specialists in many different areas writing, choreographing and directing tailor made productions. She is a voice over artist and thoroughly enjoys working in recording studios. Tina has held a position of Director of Creative Arts for over 10 years. She has two children and is grandmother to one!
She is delighted to be a Youth Advisor and is looking forward to an exciting future.
Tina trained in dance and drama and qualified as a teacher 20 years ago. Her varied career has encompassed professional work as an actress, director, singer, choreographer, writer, teacher and voice-over artist. She has appeared in the West End, toured throughout the UK and abroad in many lead roles - Her teaching experience ranges from pre-school age to adults and she has been involved in many community-based projects that involve drama, music and dance.
June ForwayWEBSITE EDITOR
June became the Webmaster many moons ago when she attended the AGM which was held in Ely and her husband decided to propose her as web master without her knowledge. The web was in its very early days at that time and has gone on to become bigger and better social media.
She has been involved in amateur theatre for many years in every aspect of several societies, committee, chairman, secretary, front of house, prompt, stage management and directing many shows of all varieties
She has a large family, several of whom are following her into a theatrical background. Her husband is also always there waiting in the background to be told what his next job will be. (Just like a faithful dog!!)
Zelda RolfeYOUTH ADVISER / Youth
Julia RymerMagazine Editor