History: 1960 – 1989


Many well known Abergavenny families have had a long association with APC. One of these were Tony and Malcolm Brinkworth, who both joined the Company at the beginning of the decade in their early teens after starting off helping backstage. However in 1964 there was no show because of strenuous efforts to find a Producer and a Pianist were unsuccessful. The Company went out of action. Although in 1965 the Company resumed in operation as Mr and Mrs Frank Lewis were prepared to have another go at producing and APC performed ‘Babes in the Wood’. In 1969 Mr Frank Lewis and his wife decided to retire from the Company due to their own business commitments. They did not want to leave APC and both had a tremendous amount of pleasure working with the cast and children alike. It was apparent that when Mr Frank Lewis retired, he was upset as pantomime was his life. The Company made him President in recognition for all his hard work and being a found member of APC. Alan England later succeeded as Producer for the next couple of years.


Bob Symonds settled into his new role as producer and produced his first production ‘Mother Goose’ in 1972. He went onto produce for the next fifteen years. Unfortunately audiences started to decline. Part of the blame was attributed to the public’s indifferences to amateur productions, but the major blame had to be attached to television. Because people were then reluctant to leave their warm homes in the winter evenings to attend a local amateur production, when they could sit and watch entertainment on the TV without any effort. Although the appetite for live theatre grew once again in the late 80’s.


Old Mother HubbardFor our 50th anniversary show in 1982 the Company performed Mother Hubbard, which was the first time APC had performed it. Unfortunately the 50th anniversary show was postponed a couple of weeks due to very heavy snow. Bob Symons led the Company well into its Half Century existence. It was also apparent that during this period a couple of distinguished members left and had formed a new breakaway Company known as the Capricorns (named after one of the Signs of the Zodiac, as they performed Pantomime’s in December). This caused upheaval at the time, as there were now three Pantomime Company’s in the town of Abergavenny, all trying to survive. (APC, Pen Y Fal Hospital Pantomime Company and the Capricorns) In fact not long after both Pen Y Fal Hospital Pantomime Company and the Capricorns folded. This resulted in a number of new members joining APC such as Peter Holder from ‘Pen Y Fal’ Pantomime Company and Neil Harvey from the ‘Capricorns’. Newcomers Shirley Wallace arrived as Choreographer and also Alan Chislett who wrote a number of his own sketches, who had grown up surrounded by the world of entertainment and understood the importance of the actor-writer relationship. During the late eighties Bob Symons bowed out as producer and was replaced by Tony Brinkworth.


Cast: Puss in Boots, 1988The Company had a go at performing two shows a year, with its traditional Pantomime during February half term and a Summer Show in July. One of the main aims of staging a summer show was to give experience to the younger cast members and chorus, to ensure that their enthusiasm did not wane before rehearsals for the next major Pantomime. During the eighties Tony Brinkworth and Bob Symons shared the roles as Producers, with Shirley Wallace undertaking the role of Choreography.

In 1987 a new Musical Director was found - Nick Leek and Jane Griffiths undertook the role as Chorus Director. In 1988 the Company staged Puss in Boots with the talented Tim Ward playing Puss the Cat. In 1989 the Company was unable to provide the town with its traditional pantomime at the Borough Theatre because it was undergoing major refurbishment. Instead we performed our Winter Review, in King Henry VIII School and Pandy Village Hall, which contained sketches written by one of our experienced members Alan Chisslett. The format of the show contained magic time, Company Dancers and a brief version of the pantomime Jack & the Beanstalk. With Bob Symons acted as Compere. During this year we lost our Choreographer Shirley Wallace.