Reflections from the back.

Early program photo circa 1989

Looking back on 50 years of Am-Dram with The Smycms is filled with highs and lows, laughter and tears. It really can be quite emotional at the end of Show Week after a successful run of 5 evening performances and a Saturday afternoon matinee. The After Show Party affords you the time to wind down after the adrenaline rush that is Show Week, a chance to swap stories with fellow cast members, some of whom you may not see again.

My first involvement with The Smycms was in 1988 when I joined the company for their production of Guys and Dolls,  i’d heard some of the horror stories from previous productions,  the pianist turning over 2 pages of the score and playing a completely different song to the one that was being sung on stage, how scary for the singer, but then live theatre is scary, once that curtain opens who knows what will happen, undaunted by this I became a fully paid up member and for the next 25 years I became a Smycm.

It hasn’t all been plain sailing though,  over the years there have been ups and downs, but mostly its been an enjoyable experience. Foolishly i agreed to join the Committee, this brings its own set of issues and in the main its a thankless job but somebody has to do it as any amateur company worth its salt wouldn’t be able to function or survive without one. Unfortunately for The Smycms, latterly, we had a willing committee, but no company members.

The Smycms started in humble surroundings staging its first production in the church hall of St Michael’s Church on Slateford Road, Edinburgh. This was 1963 with Swingalong followed up in 1965 with Salad Days . It wasn’t until 1973 with the Edinburgh Amateur Premiere of Fiddler on the roof that The Smycms arrived on the big stage at The Church Hill Theatre in Edinburgh. It must have been quite a challenge moving from a church hall where you had to build a stage for show week complete with curtains and back cloth, this enabled cast members to get from one side of the stage to the other as there was only one way in, to a proper theatre with dressing rooms, rehearsal area, wings,  huge stage and more importantly a large auditorium to attract a bigger audience thereby selling more tickets.

With the  increased revenue The Smycms were able to stage bigger and better productions, so over the next 35 years covered  a wide variety of musicals from The Music Man, Annie Get Your Gun, Phil The Fluter and Singing In The Rain to name a just few. Up until 1993 the direction, staging and choreography were ably carried out by Betty Fyfe and her daughter Jeanette, in those days the technical and dress rehearsals were all done on the Sunday before opening night on Monday, a tough job but they always got the best out of the cast.  Since Betty and Jeanette stepped down as the production team The Smycms have been fortunate to have had the services of such talented individuals as Eric Burns, June Geissler, Jerry Gregson, Alison Rushworth and Laura Reed. Laura was with the company for 14 years as Artistic Director and I can safely say some of the best productions by The Smycms had Laura at the helm. Sadly the last Production was the challenging, kids Musical, Bugsy Malone in 2010, although a success on stage, lack of ticket sales proved ultimately to be the downfall of The Smycms.

In 2011 they had to cancel the next production which would have been Eurobeat due to a lack of company members. Their attempts to stage a series of concerts to raise funds ended in failure, they could not attract enough people to make it a viable proposition.  Finally in 2012, as a last throw of the dice, South Pacific was chosen to resurrect the fortunes of an ailing musical company, unfortunately a professional company were bringing a new production of South Pacific to Edinburgh at the same time as The Smycms were due to stage their own production at the Church Hill Theatre.  In a bold move The Smycms acquired the rights to stage Seven Brides For Seven Brothers, a Hollywood Blockbuster with such classic songs as Bless Yore Beautiful Hide and Goin’ Courtin.  It would have been an Edinburgh Amateur Premiere  had they been able to stage it, but again the inability to attract any men let alone seven men who could sing and dance was the final straw and once again they had to admit defeat. There had been talk of organising a reunion to celebrate 50 years  since The Smycms started, but with the deaths of Paul Findlay and Betty Fyfe in 2013, the planned reunion has been shelved for now.

What of the future, who knows what will happen in the coming years, but I am reminded of a line from the film A Field Of Dreams, “If you build it, they will come”,  so if you are an ex-Smycm looking for a party then hopefully you will be around if it happens. We have had discussions with The Frank Spencer Trio to come out of retirement and perform their after show party classic,  Be like the Bluebird.  It was a bit of a cheek but they are free.

Tony the last Smycm.

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Comments
One Response to “Reflections from the back.”
  1. Lisa Khodjet-Kesba (Marshall) says:

    Tony don’t worry you are not the last Smycm…. once a Smycm always a Smycm. I have many happy memories of my 15 years in the Smycms and I will always consider myself one. Lisa Marshall ,hope you haven’t all forgotten me . lol xx

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