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Becoming a legend is something good musicians do without trying, and one such was Romford’s own Bob Marks. A unique character full of enthusiasm and love which he spread around like magic dus…




soggy actorsFinding new ways of measuring our lives is quite fascinating; for instance June 2016 is now down in the record books as how many times you dash out to take in the washing.

Predicting the frequency of showers has moved on from the post Michael Fish days of weekly sayings to the finite hourly doom sheet.

Even casting a glance at the heavens is not a true guide now, as the constant layer of porridge and raspberry jam coloured cloud  has shown it not always an indication of a belting precipitation.

One discarded indication used to be the number of performances the Romford Summer Theatre got in before the heavens opened.

Much ado posterMany a tale of soggy and bedraggled actors trying to convince an umbrella laden audience that the Shakespearean play they are watching, is in fact being played out in the relentless sunshine and humid atmosphere of southern Italy.

Now that is acting, however, this year’s production of Much Ado About Nothing has set the rule book back to basics.

No longer do we need to anxiously glance at the BBC forecast or even the porridge stained sky, but to look at the horizon.

Take Friday night’s performance as a good guide.

The playing field in Raphael Park was bathed in brilliant sunshine as the last rays of the day picked out the lush green of the grass and the long shadows of the tree lined perimeter. Ten steps away, and I measured them, the Rockery, where the play was being performed, was plunged into a Dickensian mausoleum grey of total depravity and limp rain soaked feathers bathed in irritating drizzle.

Come back Michael Fish I say, at least we had someone to blame.

The Bard’s comedy is now into its third production tonight (Saturday June18) with a matinee on Sunday and three more performances ending on Saturday June 25.

So the message in this blog if you want a good night out of culture, tea and cakes, is to ignore the elements and come and join us in Raphael Park.

We have not quite got to the Disney Badge stage of shower survival, because it seems the elemental Gods are still discussing the colour they want to paint on the ceiling.

As with most Shakespearian comedies, the dialogue is 1600 but the laughs are definitely modern, and Much Ado is loaded with both.

The story of a turbulent love affair between a character called Benedick and his love target, Beatrice, is a mixture of chaos and confusion as played out in every household for the past four hundred years or so.

To add to the disbelief, the strong cast of 20 players give a two hour rendition of what can only be described as constant pressure, where a blink could be disastrous.

The evening show begins at 8pm on the Rockery which is at the end of the lake in Romford’s premier park in Main Road, with two car parks, one opposite the main Road entrance with a walk by the lake, or the rear entrance of the park where cars are allowed to park on the grass with a short walk down to the stage.

Tickets are £10 and £8 and available at the entrance to the enclosure surrounding the Rockery or on line at: Sunday’s matinee begins at 3pm, and the last three performances on Thursday June 23 to Saturday June at 8pm.

Forget the weather but bring the umbrella and blanket, just in case.







The annual Shakespeare in the Park is becoming a race to see how many broken bones make a sonnet. Cast members including the director turn up at rehearsals swathed in bandages after a series of fal…



Just in case you missed my other blogsite at this site is from my website blog on on the news of the coming and goings of the Romford Summer Theatre thespians as they take on Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing in June. The annual seven performances of the Bard’s funniest comedy will be performed in the […]



Raphael Prk Fountain 3wcopyright

The majestic fountain in Raphael Park lake, a perfect setting for Shakespeare

With spring in the air in between the April/May bouts of snow and torrential rain, it is time to look forward to getting out and about, and the town’s Raphael Park is the place to be.

A fitting tribute to Havering  Council’s ground force of gardeners, the Main Road site on the outskirts of Romford, is beautiful and the venue of lots of jollies including the annual dose of culture with Shakespeare in the Park by Romford Summer Theatre (RST) in June.

The elegant fountain set in the middle of the lake is so English and along with the interval tea and cake and hungry mosquitoes free roaming among the seating during the performance, the feeling of being exposed to the Bard at his elemental best is one not to be missed.

This year’s comedy is Much Do About Nothing, a remarkable two hours of total confusion and mistaken identity, that keeps the mirth and fun at fever pitch.

The play tells the story of two pairs of lovers; Hero and Claudio, eager and impatient, and  Beatrice and Benedick, fighting against their mutual attraction.

Much ado posterAdd to the mix, Don John, who will do anything to upset the intended nuptials of Claudio and Hero to spite his brother.

Showing the total versatility of Shakespeare’s work, the play is set during the second Boer War, where the red-coated uniforms of the soldiers and the elegant gowns of the late Victorian, early Edwardian era will be perfectly highlighted against the atmospheric background of The Rockery in Raphael Park.

The performances are 8pm, 16 / 17/ 18  & 23 / 24 / 25 June 2016 and  3pm Sunday 19  June 2016

Tickets are £10 with concessions at £8 and available on line from the dedicated website, or Romford Summer Theatre on Facebook.

Directed by June Fitzgerald, herself no mean actress with years of Shakespeare to her credit,  the seven performances are the perfect way to spend a summer evening in a richly lit backdrop of a dedicated outdoor stage that satisfies all tastes.

Just in case of inclement elements patrons are advised to bring umbrellas and blankets. Well you never know.


John Dudman w 2

Mr Cab-Hoo-Ray, John Dudman wants to hear from more artists for his Care Home shows

Ageless and active is not a bad way to enter 2016 and a Havering Octogenarian could not agree more.

John Dudman, a sprightly 86-year-old, notches up four decades of bringing entertainment to his generation of peers less fortunate than himself and living in care homes and sheltered accommodation.

The former London Electricity board manager swapped the power accounts for entertainment Bills of talent and takes his troupe of entertainers into care homes across Redbridge, Barking and Dagenham and Havering giving shows for the residents.

“I started it back in 1976,” he said. “We called ourselves the Zodiacs and as a group of friends, used to tour the homes and sheltered accommodation for those we were not active and could not get out.”

Admitting to his singing ability with a facial wince and whispered ‘not really’, John’s talent is in hosting and organising performers to give their time and talents for the old folk every Friday throughout the year.

“No I don’t sing really, I stick to comparing the shows and telling the odd joke  with a bit of careful comedy. “

The last phrase is a reference to his standards where comedy is treated with total respect for the audience.

That's Entertainment

That’s Entertainment

“It is so easy to upset people with some of the stand up comedians of today, so we stick to pure entertainment of singers, musicians and dancers,” he said.

Speaking of which, John’s troupe of a dozen is in need of bolstering and he needs more talent for his free shows.

“We entertain,” he said. “That is what we do and we do it for nothing except a cup of tea sometimes.”

The rewards for the artists is in the total and instant appreciation shown every time by the audiences.

“We could not do this if money was involved,” he said. “We do it for the pure enjoyment and the thrill of entertaining appreciative audiences, and they all are very appreciative.”

Over the years his group, now called Cab-Hoo-Ray has been the launch pad for many young performers into a career in the entertainment industry.

“I am very lucky in that the people who join us are very loyal and so impressed with the amount of fun they get out of our shows.

One of the many show casts featuring all kinds of acts

One of the many show casts featuring all kinds of acts

“But it is also the opportunity they get to perfect their act and the magnanimous applause that captivates them every time.”

John is looking for singers, dancers, musicians and entertainers to fill the cast lists for shows throughout the year.

“Each show is fast moving,” he said. “I keep the momentum going with the next act in the wings as the others finish.”

The list of performing skills is limitless and the ages unrestricted with the only criteria being good solid entertainment and have fun doing it.

John would like to hear from any groups or individuals who are prepared to share their talent freely for a generation that has lived full lives and now gently resting.

He can be reached on 0208-551-6853.


When you receive an SOS based on well known musical theatre songs, it demands attention and a second look, because the promise of  a ‘Beautiful Mornin’ is not one to ignore.

Semail leaflet-1henfield Operatic Society, the dynamic group devoted to never doing anything quietly, are in the final approach to performances of the outstanding Rogers and Hammerstein blockbuster, Oklahoma at the Queen’s Theatre in February.

With a huge cast of enthusiastic singers, the quality of their productions is never in any doubt and given the added ambience of the Billet Lane theatre, usually fill the auditorium every time.

Adding to the seats, they also fill the audience with raised glasses with their own brew; ‘Ale-Klahoma’, the bolt on marketing must-have, is a special brew by the  renown Brentwood Brewery Company, much loved by the Real Ale army of hop appreciation fans.

The formidable reputation of the singers is enhanced by hours of painful rehearsal and an open offer for new members to join their swelling ranks.

01. Oh what a beautiful mornin'This production is supporting local charities, First Step based in Hornchurch  and Reach Hippotherapy Centre at Crown Farm Stables in Kelvedon Hatch, both organisations aim is to help  disabled children enjoy as many real-life experiences as possible.

The demanding musical Oklahoma was the first written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein and based on the 1931 stage play by Lynn RiggsGreen Grow the Lilacs.

Reach carols

The players with children from Reach Hippotherapy at Crown Farm Stables in Kelvedon Hatch with Brentwood Mayor Mark Reed

Set in Oklahoma Territory outside the town of Claremore in 1906, it tells the story of cowboy Curly McLain and his romance with farm girl Laurey Williams. A secondary romance concerns cowboy Will Parker and his flirtatious fiancée, Ado Annie.




The original Broadway production opened on March 1943 and was a box-office smash that ran for 2,212 performances, later enjoying award-winning revivals, national tours, foreign productions and an Academy Award-winning 1955 film adaptation.

LUB sml

With First Step Christmas Bazaar

Helping to build the legend, the music was outstanding with a formidable array of iconic songs including ‘Oh What a Beautiful Mornin’, ‘People Will Say We are In Love’, The Farmer and the Cowhand’, and ‘Oklahoma’.


The show will be at the Queen’s for  five performances from Wednesday February 10 to Saturday February 13, with a matinee performance on Saturday at 2.30 pm. All evening performances begin at 7.30 pm

For tickets contact the Society’s website on or phone the theatre box office on 01708 443333 or Publicity Officer, Suzanne Gunn on 07734 817418.

For more information about First Step, and Reach Hippotherapy, website