The Gallery Players was formed in 1985 by Pat Taplin to produce rarely performed plays and musicals that larger companies would find uneconomic or which only use a few actors. The company quickly established a reputation for quality and excellence. The Groups aims are broadly speaking:
- To exploit a niche for staging productions that are progressive and exciting in both content and execution.
- To embrace both new and established works
- To act as vehicle for engaging new talent as well as established members
- To foster a group of actors and technicians that are truly a community
- To foster links with schools and colleges
We now generally stage four or five productions a year, a mixture of plays and musicals.
Performing lesser known shows is always difficult, particularly when it comes to building an audience and balancing the books, but by sticking to our aims we have grown an audience, that, hopefully, trust us to produce interesting work.
Although we have a strong pool of performers & technicians new blood and talent, on & off stage, is always welcome.
The Gallery Players founder was Pat Taplin, who sadly passed away in 2012; she had great vision and hopefully this will be carried forward by the new steering group. That steering group is Wade Ablitt, Dave Borthwick, Helen Clarke, Will Dowe, Steve Taplin and Steve Wooldridge.
We encourage other directors to take the reins of their own pet projects, allowing them to cast freely and create individual shows with the backing of our excellent technical and production crew. Our only insistence is that the final show should entertain and stimulate our discerning audience and should exude that sense of professionalism we strive for.
Gallery Players have won several awards including the NODA Eastern Area Shield for Best Production with ‘Carnival’ and the Councillors Cup for ‘The Baker’s Wife’ and ‘Kiss Me Like You Mean It’. Our Motto is ‘making theatre exciting’, which we like to think we do, most of the time!
The Gallery Players founder and inspirational guiding light Pat Taplin sadly died in April 2012. Such was her spirit and love for theatre that she was directing her final production Stephen Sondheim’s Putting It Together just six weeks before her death.
Pat founded The Gallery Players in 1985 to do small-cast, quirky shows that many, larger, societies may over-look. Early productions included revue type shows such as Cowardy Custard – a tribute to Noel Coward – and Happy As A Sandbag, a lookback at Britain during the dark days of the Blitz.
To begin with The Gallery Players staged one show a year but it wasn’t long before Pat started uncovering works by neglected composers and gradually the number of shows increased to four a year.
The scope of the productions also expanded. Starting with Company in 1988 Pat and The Gallery Players have staged virtually every Stephen Sondheim musical including Sweeney Todd, A Little Night Music, Into The Woods, Pacific Overtures, Passion, Assassins, Merrily We Roll Along, Follies and A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum.
As the ambitions of the company expanded Pat also started negotiations to stage regional premieres of new musicals as soon as the rights became available.
Love Story, the first Gallery show after Pats death was a premiere and a continuation of that tradition. It was also fitting that the music was written by Howard Goodall because Goodall’s The Hired Man was the first regional premiere that the company staged back in 1991.
In fact Pat’s persuasive charm was such that she got Howard Goodall down to Ipswich to take a rehearsal. Pat was a woman you couldn’t say no to.
Pat also championed other non-mainstream shows producing regional premieres of Stephen Schwartz’s The Baker’s Wife, the stage musical version of MGM’s The Grand Hotel and Steve Brown’s Spend, Spend, Spend. Pat also had a fondness for the off-beat and staged sell-out shows of two different musicals based on the Peanuts cartoon character Snoopy, she brought On Golden Pond and Flare Path out of retirement and staged two successful productions of 60’s musical A Slice of Saturday Night.
Pat’s reputation as an excellent director meant that she could attract expert help. Ruthie Henshall offered performance advice for Putting It Together while Royal Ballet star Gary Avis performed with the Gallery Players during his early days and choreographed several shows during breaks from his Royal Ballet commitments. Pat and members of The Gallery Players returned the favour when they formed part of a chorus at Gary’s homecoming show at the Regent in September 2011 – raising funds for The Hunger Project.
Even the man himself, Stephen Sondheim, offered birthday congratulations for Pat’s 80th birthday.
Pat would have been so excited to think that the group now has it’s own theatre space. It is very fitting that the Gallery Players continues in the spirit that she created and all our future productions are respectfully dedicated to Pat Taplin – our continued inspiration.