Theatre stalwart recognised for contribution to the stage

Five people linking hands and smiling at the camera

From left to right: Brian Rees, Graham Liverton (NODA SW Councillor), Jill Coley, Julie Salmond and Joyce Pomeroy (NODA Regional Representative) - Credit: Contributed

Sidmouth actor Brian Rees’ long service on the stage was acknowledged on Sunday, September 26 when he was presented with a medal and certificate for 60 years service to the amateur theatre by the South West Councillor of the National Operatic and Dramatic Association, Graham Liverton.

Brian started in 1959 when he joined Bridport Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society for their 1960 production of Oklahoma! The director of that show was Gene Gerard who had retired from the West End to live in Sidmouth. Brian performed with the Bridport society until 1987 when he moved to Yeovil Amateur Operatic Society. There he worked with Thelma Parish, mother of TV actress Sarah Parish, and Ray Jeffery, one of musical theatre’s top directors and choreographers. He stayed with Yeovil until he moved to Sidmouth to live in 2000. Since then he has performed mainly with Sidmouth Musical Theatre.

In 2003 Brian, together with Jan Sutcliffe, formed The Old Bull and Bush Company of Artistes specifically to present Old Time Music Hall and raise money for charity. In the 15 years of their existence they performed all over East and South Devon raising around £65,000 for various charities.

Brian has always believed in putting something back into the societies he has belonged to and has served on their committees for a total of 40 years. He has been treasurer of Sidmouth Musical Theatre since 2003. He was also the NODA Regional Representative for South Somerset from 1993-1996. Now aged 82 he is still “treading the boards” and with 90 musicals, three pantos, 19 plays and goodness knows how many music halls behind him he will be making a small appearance in Sister Act. Asked what role he was playing he said: “You will have to come to see the show to find out”.

Also being recognised for their contribution to the stage were Julie Salmon and Jill Coley who were delighted to be presented with the NODA June Barker Memorial Cup Best Pantomime Runner Up Award this week. This was for Red, the pantomime which they wrote and directed, and was performed by the Newton Poppleford Riverside Players in 2019, to full houses and much laughter.

This was Julie and Jill’s second writing collaboration, the first being Net Result, a comedy about the dating game. They enjoy writing together, but also share a love of performance – acting, singing, dancing and being silly on stage. You may have seen them as the comedy duo in panto!

Due to lockdown the award ceremony couldn’t take place in the normal way, at the normal time, so as they are both taking part in Sidmouth Musical Theatre’s production of Sister Act, the presentation took place last Sunday at a full rehearsal, when the representatives from NODA were treated to a sneak preview of one of the big musical numbers, Raise Your Voice ,which was thoroughly enjoyed.

They are both happy to be able to take part in live theatre again, and particularly in such an amazing show as ‘Sister Act’.

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