Theatre group trio have served 160 years between them
This year marks very special anniversaries for three members of the city's oldest musical theatre society
Ged Jarrett, Pauline Iredale and Rondy Baldwin celebrate a collective total of 160 years service of Peterborough Operatic and Dramatic Society this Spring. Ged is awarded the prestigious diamond NODA (National Operatic & Dramatic Association) bar for 60 years service, and is one of only seven members to receive this accolade in the multi-award-winning society’s 116-year history. Alongside Ged are Pauline and Rondy who both receive their special awards for 50 years service.
Ged joined PODS for their 1956 production of King’s Rhapsody, and went on to perform leading roles such as ‘Curly’ in ‘Oklahoma!’ in 1966 and ‘Buffalo Bill’ in ‘Annie Get Your Gun’ in 1984. Having performed in over 50 shows for the society, Ged has also served as Publicity Officer, Members Rep and on the social committee. Ged retired from performing in 2009 but is still actively involved helping with Front of House duties during show week.
“I made great friends from a diverse mix of members. No matter whether you were a hospital consultant, solicitor, bus driver or bricklayer, after those few weeks of rehearsals, you were all thrown together to bring an exciting musical to life”.
“I am getting older and have lost many friends, but I will never forget how lucky I have been to be onstage with such talented people in PODS”.
Pauline joined PODS in 1966 for ‘Oklahoma!’ at the Embassy Theatre. “In those days alcohol and smoking were allowed backstage and the men used to have barrels of beer piled up to the ceiling for show week. I shudder to think how they ever got on stage!” she said. “The last musical I ‘trod the boards’ in was ‘The Music Man’ in 1999. I enjoyed it just as much as my first one. The camaraderie of the people involved is exhilarating”.
Over the years, Pauline has served as Social Secretary, Patron’s Secretary, Vice-Chair and President. For PODS’ centenary production of ‘The Sound of Music’ in 2000, Pauline was asked to direct.
“It was a great honour,” Pauline said.“PODS has been my lifeline over the last 50 years and has given me so much pleasure and so many friends. At times, when like everyone else, I felt down or depressed, singing and performing was the biggest ‘pick me up’ I could ever have and this never leaves me. I strongly recommend it.”
Rondy Baldwin also joined in 1966 for ‘Oklahoma!’. During her time with the society, Rondy has gone on to serve as Vice-Chair and President. Rondy also choreographed many of PODS’ award-winning productions.
“Fiddler on the Roof’ and ‘Kismet’ were my favourite shows to have choreographed and performed in,” she said.
Rondy played Sister Sophia in ‘The Sound of Music’ in 1980, which was PODS’ final production at The Embassy Theatre. It had 1500 seats and we used to fill it night after night – truly wonderful days,” she recalled.
“For the last few years I have supported the next generation of members with their new musicals and what a wonderful job they are doing. They still make me feel a part of PODS and I am still as proud today as the day I joined.”
PODS continues to go from strength to strength, having won the NODA Best Musical award for ‘The Witches of Eastwick’ in 2014, and having recently received nominations in all three categories for the 2015 awards, a first for the society which only recently started producing an additional annual play, as well as their annual musical. PODS received nominations for Best Musical for ‘The Addams Family’, Best Play for ‘Abigail’s Party’ and Best Technical for Production Manager, Rob Melhuish’s set and lighting design for both productions. PODS find out at the NODA awards ceremony in April if they continue their current reign.
Chairman Robert Bristow said: “It’s testament to the foundations built by our wonderful long-serving members, Ged, Pauline and Rondy, that we continue to thrive and be so successful today. For our 2016 production, ‘Hairspray’, we’ve had more new members audition to join us than ever before.”
Ged, Pauline and Rondy remain great friends and loyal members of PODS, and although they are no longer ‘treading the boards’, they can be seen helping out with front of house duties, selling programmes for ‘Hairspray’ at The Cresset, April 5-9.