Northampton’s longest running amateur drama group turns 80

A scene from A Midsummer Night's Dream in rehearsal for the 80th anniversary celebration at the Royal Theatre. Left to right: Mark Farey as Snug, Richard Jordan as Bottom, Peter Robinson as Flute, Barry Dougall as Quince, Tony Janney as Starveling and Ste Applegate as Snout.

A scene from A Midsummer Night's Dream in rehearsal for the 80th anniversary celebration at the Royal Theatre. Left to right: Mark Farey as Snug, Richard Jordan as Bottom, Peter Robinson as Flute, Barry Dougall as Quince, Tony Janney as Starveling and Ste Applegate as Snout.

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Northampton’s longest-running amateur drama group is celebrating its 80th birthday with a performance at the Royal & Derngate.

Masque Theatre’s first production was performed in October 1932 at St Michael’s Hall, Northampton. The group’s 392nd production will be in the Royal auditorium, Guildhall Road, on Sunday at 4pm.

A 50-strong cast will celebrate the people, the places and the plays that have been performed during the last 80 years, with songs, scenes and comic highlights from Masque’s long history.

Among those who have been past members and have subsequently become well known, are Alan Carr, Marc Warren and Lesley Joseph.

Comedian Alan Carr was in Masque’s production of The School For Scandal in 1998.

Marc Warren (Hustle, The Vice, State of Play and Mad Dogs) acted with Masque in the 1980s.

He thanked Masque for helping him get his first professional break after he was seen in an adaptation of Kes.

Lesley Joseph (Birds of a Feather) was a member of Masque in the 1960s and is now the group’s president.

She said: “I hold Masque somewhere very special in my heart, as it was here with this group that I first appeared in a play in front of an audience.”

The celebration will include a display of archive photographs. Tickets are £12, which include a drink and birthday cake. For tickets call 01604 624811 or visit www.royalandderngate.co.uk.