Tobias and the Angel (April 1967)

Last updated: 9 Mar 02


Probably from the Wednesbury and Darlaston Times (as is the review at the end)

The cast of “Tobias and the Angel”, a production presented by Wednesbury Boys’ High School and Wednesbury Girls’ High School.

Back row, left to right, Asmoday (David Calcutt), Judith Wearing, Rosalind Spragg, Margaret Bates, Rosemary Clarke, Leslie Gutteridge, Linda Haywood.

Front row: Jacqueline Tibbetts, John Patterson, Stuart Bentley, Linda Green, Adrian Palmer, David Spink, Alan Gutteridge, Ann Brown and David Wilson.

(Click a thumbnail for a larger version)

With thanks to Alan Gutteridge for the pictures.

Review in Woden

Because of the success of the production of the School Play, I thought it necessary to give a somewhat belated ovation, not only to the cast, but also to the ‘backroom’ boys and girls who played a tremendous part in the presentation of the play.

The play, ‘Tobias and the Angel’ ,was not picked by the people who were possibilities for the cast but by Mr. Riley, who simply thrust the play on to a certain section of the community, namely the Lower Sixth of the boys’ school and the Upper and Lower Sixths of the girls’ school. After many struggles arguments and people dropping parts because their dog died or their library books were overdue, a cast of about 16 people was chosen to act. They were backed by a set of 25 able-bodied boys and girls who for the sake of clarity shall be collectively called the Production Team.

For praises to be lavished fully on the cast it would be advantageous to deal with each one separately and thus avoid the confusion which was present in abundance during the production.

John Patterson, who played a ‘blind old Jew, was at first thought to be literally acting his first part and on the opening night was still fervently learning his lines. However, he did have unbearable odds to face on stage, for he had an argument with his wife, and with the angel, and after sending his son on an 85-day holiday all he can do in return is squirt gall in his father’s eyes.

David Spink played Tobias. During the production he occasionally got lost or tucked neatly away in a cupboard some-where. He had the major role and his reward was that he had to be covered from head to foot in a brown paste every night. He could in fact be occasionally mistaken for a partially bald dog. However thanks must go to him for a splendid role.

Adrian Palmer (Caped Crusader) played an extremely good role as the angel. At the end of each performance he blessed the whole cast free of charge. Such a generous boy!

Stuart Bentley (the Kurdish Bandit) broke the world record for long jumping while hurling himself on to the stage. He was owned and trained by Mr. Ladkin.

Linda Green (Raquel’s daughter) was called a great variety of things in the play, ‘dear sensible girl’, ‘white camel colt’, ‘jacinth monument on an ivory plinth’, ‘beautiful young lady’, ‘a witch’, and an ‘ostrich’. She was also reputed to have ‘the heart of a rhinoceros’, ‘instincts of an animal’, ‘a voice like the massed bands’, and ‘feet like doves’. A funny girl all round, who played a wonderful role.

Judith Wearing had a very difficult song to sing but she managed it with ease; I’m glad to say.

Rosalind Spraggs, Margaret Bates, Rosemary Clarke, and Linda Haywood played roles as maidservants. Their costumes were good.

Ann Brown had the time of her life when Linda Green actually allowed her to call her the worst names under the sun, a practice which is very rare. The part Ann played was Azorah, a dancing girl. She portrayed the character with ease.

The difficult task assigned to Leslie Gutteridge was that he had to play a recorder in accompaniment to Judith Wearing’s song. He did this well despite comments from the back of the stage like “take it away, Les”, or “swing that flute”.

Alan Gutteridge despite rumours is not . . . fat, but was playing a plump Raquel, Sara’s father. Overlooking the difficult line like “superstition and old wives’ tales” he portrayed the character very well (cough, cough).

David Wilson played an Ethiopian slave, and with his black body and ginger hair he raised quite a laugh (Ha, Ha, Ha). He is now appearing in the Black and White Minstrel Show.

Finally, from the list of characters is Asmoday, a role which was played well by David Calcutt. In answer to many questions. . yes, it was a mask.

That completes the cast. My next task is to congratulate the numerous back-stage people. Those who built the scenery are to be heartily patted on the back. Their leader was Mr. Bradley, who brought his men through when at points they were up to their necks in wood and nails. This phrase will always echo through their minds: “Nothing is impossible. It’s just that the impossibilities take a little longer.” Builders include: Andrew Golder, Adrian Palmer, Alan Gutteridge, Stephen James (re-named ‘hammer and nail’), Dennis Onions, David Wilson, and yours truly.

The scenery was painted by a gallant band of girls whose motto was ‘mess’. They included: Jennifer Brown, Gillian Coleyshaw, Rachael Whitehouse, and last but by no means least Lindsay Harrison. Technical facilities were by Gavin Maxfield, and Dennis ‘Drop your torch on the opening night’ Onions. They had a hard task and completed it successfully.

Costumes were thoughtfully and expertly designed by Mr. A. D. Legge, Miss M. Atkinson, and Mrs. G. McKenzie.

Choreography (dances) by Miss S. Richardson, was neatly and pleasantly presented.

Prompter-no comment.

Now to deal with the ‘FRONT OF HOUSE’. Mr. H. B. Baptist-Smith single-handedly dealt with all the tickets, single- handedly that is except for 50 1st Form boys. However, we were grateful for his co-operation.

Mrs. H. Galpin and Mrs. B. Mason helped the production and Mr. J. Ladkin, who, while running about for stuffed camels, could only find a horse with lumbago.

AND finally, Mr. Riley, who trained (whipped), moulded (forced) and developed (aged) the cast into the players you saw perform. Great thanks must be given to him.

Even in a report, which is as detailed as this, dozens of people must have been left out who played a part in the production. For instance the scenery shifters, who braved the crowds to rescue the scenery in their mini-skirts. Many thanks to Jennifer Brown and Lindsay Harrison for services rendered.

To sum up this report in one word is easy-THANKS.

N.B.-Music during interludes was Glenn Miller and excerpts from Ben Hur, not as was originally thought Jim Hendrix.


Press review – “Excellent choice of school play”

School plays are sometimes viewed with disdain because people anticipate a stage full of giggling schoolchildren forgetting their lines and operating on the lines of organised chaos.

Nothing like this happened during the first joint production of Wednesbury Boys’ High School and the Girls’ High School, when they presented “Tobias and the Angel”, a fantasy by James Bridie based on the story told in the Book of Tobit in the Apocrypha.

This was an excellent choice for a school – a simple story line with the underlying moral that good always strives over evil. Briefly, the story tells of a blind man of Nineveh who sends his son out to collect a debt of 10 years’ standing. The son, an uneducated waif and a coward, agrees to the long journey following the appearance of a mysterious porter who says he will accompany him. Time goes by, and the waif grows into a man. Fearless and commanding, the man retreives the money, finds himself a wife and returns home. With the help of some magical potion the father gains back his sight and everyone lives happily ever after.

In the period designated by the author the make-up and costume people had a whale of a time. Their efforts were first class.

I applaud the producers for their attention to detail. No faked music for the musician (Leslie Gutteridge). He actually played his recorder as accompaniment to the dancing of Azorah (Ann Brown). The set was simple, effective and adaptable to all scenes.

The characters were well portrayed and it was apparent that not only the audience were having a good titter. I agree there was some provocation from the back of the hall on Thursday night but it certainly broke the ice.

Tobias was adequately played by David Spink, who has a good sense of comedy. The silent, commanding figure of Azarias, who reveals himself to be the Archangel Raphael, was convincingly played by Adrian Palmer.

Some of the drama was lost in the all-round enjoyment, but otherwise it was a first class production – pleasantly entertaining and a good evening out.