Treading The Archway boards back in the 1980s

You’ve got to love the theatre. The smell of the greasepaint, the roar of the crowd – or is it the other way around?

The discovery of these pictures came as a pleasant surprise to the team at the Observer as we had assumed they had been lost during the seemingly never-ending migration to our new office – 30 feet to the right of the old one.

Crawley History - Archway Theatre, Horley

Crawley History - Archway Theatre, Horley

It’s always amusing to look at photos from the 1980s – the hairstyles, which we thought at the time were the height of fashion, have dated so very, very badly.

But on to the Archway.

According to its website www.archwaytheatre.co.uk, the theatre’s roots can be traced back to 1939 when the actors met in local halls.

By 1952 the group had moved underneath the arches of a 1909 road bridge which crossed the railway line at Horley Station.

In those early years, space was a little tight.

The website stated: “‘Space’ may be a somewhat misleading term, as actors had to crouch in the low jack arches preparatory to a dramatic entrance.

“No members were really accepted as true actors until they had knocked themselves semi-conscious on exiting the stage!”

In 1989, the auditorium was refurbished to make room for 95 seats, rather than the initial 65.

In the years since, the theatre has performed around 10 plays a year and continues to fill more than 90 of those seats for every performance.

These pictures were all taken from performances between 1985 and 1990.

They include: The Boyfriend (1987) starring Nina Berry and Ben Lovell as Polly and Tony; Terra Nova (1985); Olde Tyme Music Hall (1986); Snow White (year unknown) starring Mark Harrington as The Prince and Amelia O’Ryan as Snow White.

When We Are Married (1986) starred Doreen Smith and Bill Smith with Norman Smith, Bryan Rhodes, Brian Humphries, Elizabeth Burgess, Nancy Cleremont and Mary Cox.

Cinderella (1988) starred Tulia Udul as Cinderella, Mark Harrington, Faith Baxter as The Prince and Cliu Harvey; Goldilocks And The Three Bears (1987) starred Pam Reeves as Mother Bear, Bob Burgin as Father Bear, Mandi Wood as Goldilocks and Jacqui Wood as Baby Bear.

Then there was The Owl and the Pussycat (1990) starring Mandi Wood as the 
Pussycat and Andrew Cornell as the Owl; and Noises Off (1989).

Do you recognise anyone in these photos or were you one of the Archway actors during the 1980s or earlier?