A brief history
The Company began at the old Village Hall in 1981 when the committee decided, after a few post-meeting refreshments, to write and stage their own version of the pantomime classic, Dick Wittington. The main instigator was the late John Mobbs (a suite at the present hall is named after him and his wife Betty) and he took on the role of Director, steering a willing group of first-time thespians to three performances.
Despite the very limited facilities and stage equipment at the time the project gained traction and became an annual event. But it was sometimes perilous! During one performance there was a total power failure and disaster was only averted when a member of the Fire Service in the audience summoned a fire engine and used its generator to power lighting into the hall so that the drama could continue. Other incidents in those early years included a principal who made a big entrance but forgot to be in costume, a female singer who decided she’d had enough mid-song and stormed off and a collapsing bed in Red Riding Hood, up-ending Grandma. Mind you, committee members had retrieved the bed from the back garden of a council refuse operative. No names, of course. Ah, those were the days (and programmes were only 10p!).
An early star was the local vicar, Fred Bianchi, who also lends his name to a suite at the new hall. In the summer of 1985 an Old Time Music Hall show was staged and this became an annual fixture too. Costumes were often borrowed from St Cross and Romsey drama groups, at least until some very talented costume mistresses joined the Otterbourne group.
Modern technical advances (such as microphones and strobe lighting) were enthusiastically adopted, membership expanded, the pianist grew into a band and then, in 1986, everything moved into the fabulous new Village Hall, thanks to a lottery grant, where it continues to this day.