following year the Society forsook the Town Hall for
the old Playhouse which stood in Market Place, on
the site now occupied by Burton's. The Thespians
took their refreshments in Hobley's restaurant next
door, on the left-hand side of the theatre. The
scenery for their second production of 'The Mikado'
was specially painted for the occasion by no less a
person than the manager of the Playhouse, Mr R.
Brown. Considerable amusement was caused by the fact
that the Playhouse, at that time, was under contract
to run a film serial, which was shown between the
acts. Mr Wilfred Layton was the conductor. This was
the first production to run for a whole week, with a
Saturday afternoon matinee - a practice which has
continued in almost every case since then.
Between 1922 and 1924,
the Thespians steadily worked through the Gilbert &
Sullivan operas. In April, 1922, 'The Yeomen of the
Guard' was given for the third time. Mr Layton
having left the district, the Society was once again
without a conductor. The Rev. George Brown - like Mr
Woolley a member of St. Mary's Church
staff-undertook the earlier chorus practices, the
final rehearsals and performances being conducted by
Mr Hugh Baly, the conductor of the Bedford Operatic
In this year, 1922, it
was decided to attempt two productions each year
instead of one and 'The Pirates of Penzance' was put
into preparation for the autumn, though due to a
smallpox scare in the town the date was subsequently
postponed until just before Christmas.
For the first time in
the history of the Society, with past difficulties
in finding an honorary conductor in mind, it was
decided to engage professional help and the choice
fell upon Mr Edgar Wilby of the London Symphony
'The Pirates', a
comparatively short opera, was preceded by a curtain
raiser by Alfred Sutro entitled 'The Marriage will
not take place'. In 'The Pirates of Penzance',
Geoffrey Pyman again played the Pirate King, in
which role he had made his first appearance for the
Thespians in 1906.
revived in April, 1923, and was described as 'a
production of exceptional merit'. For the first
time, the programme was illustrated with photographs
of the performers.
followed in November, 1923, and saw the first
appearance of Leslie Rands, who left three years
later to join the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company and
became a well-known principal at the Savoy Theatre.