Memory lane in Gaslight’s glow

Joyce Burgess as Bella Manningham in the Anonymous Players' 1988 production of Gaslight
Joyce Burgess as Bella Manningham in the Anonymous Players' 1988 production of Gaslight
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The stage is set for a notable double for am-dram stalwart Joyce Burgess when the curtain goes up on Gaslight at Lowther Pavilion next month.

For Joyce is directing the latest production by the Anonymous Players more than a quarter century after she acted in a previous staging of Patrick Hamilton’s Victorian-themed thriller.

It’s a rare foray into directing locally these days for the vastly-experienced Joyce, who is a National Operatic and Dramatic Association regional award winner for her prolific acting skills as well as having lectured in theatre studies in further education for 25 years.

But she leapt at the chance to take the helm when it was decided that the Anonymous company was reviving Hamilton’s play for the first time since Joyce featured as Bella Manningham in 1988.

”I love this atmospheric play and it is a delight to direct such an enthusiastic and brilliant cast,” said Joyce, who has been involved in am-dram in Fylde for the nest part of four decades and is a member of the Fylde Coast Playuers and the centenary Players as well as the Anonymous company.

Heather Cartmell plays Bella in the new version of Gaslight, which has a special place in the history of Fylde amateur drama as the last play to be staged on St Annes Pier before the theatre there was destroyed by fire in 1974.

That staging was by the Centenary Players just a year before Joyce became a member of the company, with the key role of Inspector Rough played by Rod Pothecary, then manager of the Pier theatre, who repeated the role in 1988.

“Hearing all the lines of this wonderful play has certainly brought back plenty of memories,” added Joyce.

“There is a great team of actors involved and we are looking forward to curtain up.”

Gaslight is staged at Lowther Pavilion from April 9 to 12, with performances each evening at 7.30pm.

Ticket details from the box office on (01253) 794221.