DAVID Ellis is a man of many parts - and in a long involvement with amateur theatre in Brighouse he has played most of them, if not on stage, then behind the scenes.
He has just retired as president of Brighouse Theatre Productions after participating in numerous shows down the decades. As well as acting and singing, he has painted scenery, made props, designed programmes, helped to raise funds and been front of house manager at many nervous first nights.
David, of Granny Hall Lane, Brighouse, became seriously involved in stage shows through Brighouse Children’s Theatre in the 1970s - though he first trod the boards at Wyke Gospel Temperence Mission.
“In those days there were six local churches each with a thriving amateur theatrical section. There was a one-act play competition and we all tried very hard to win it,” he said.
When David and his wife, Peggy, moved to Brighouse they joined Brighouse Children’s Theatre and David eventually succeeded Gerald Tyler as chairman.
“It was a great little group and put on some excellent shows such as ‘The Pied Piper’, ‘Ivan and the Firebird’ and ‘The Keys of the Kingdom’ - the kind of shows which are rarely performed today. It brought all ages together and a tremendous amount of time and effort went into the productions. “
David himself trod the boards in roles such as the Tsar in ‘Ivan and the Firebird’ and Dr Grimwig in ‘Oliver’ and Henry Miller in ‘Calamity Jane’ for the former Brighouse Amateurs.
His involvement in the Amateurs followed on naturally from his links with Brighouse Children’s Theatre.
“We shared premises in Blackburn Road for a few years and even collaborated on a number of shows. As the years went by the Children’s Theatre struggled to attract audiences and eventually folded so I carried on with the Amateurs.”
Brighouse Theatre Productions was formed with the merger of Brighouse Amateurs and Brighouse Light Opera Society and the society endured a rocky 18 months when the Civic Hall was closed for essential repairs.
“The closure meant that the dates of our shows moved from springtime to October which is not ideal as people find it hard to commit to rehearsals over the summer months. A tremendous amount of time and effort is involved in putting on a show - quite how much is not always appreciated.”
BTP is now hard at work rehearsing for its forthcoming production of ‘Guys and Dolls’ which is at Brighouse Civic Hall from October 12 to 15.
As usual Peggy Ellis is busy making costumes for the show and the couple’s youngest daughter Maxine is in the chorus but David is more than happy to take a back seat.
“Having been so heavily involved for the past 13 years I’m going to sit back for a while.”
His youngest grand-daughter, 17-year-old Bridie Flanagan, is carrying on the family tradition. She is playing the role of Belle in a forthcoming production of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ at the Little Theatre, Southport, next month.
A chemical engineer by profession who worked at Bradford University for almost 30 years, David says it has has given him great pleasure to have been involved in amateur theatre in Brighouse. “Putting on a show is a great team effort and I enjoy the fact that you are collaborating with people of all ages.
“There have been times when shows have been affected by the weather or by illness and I remember one time when the safety curtain got stuck half way down but the show always goes on.”