Denis still Revelling in it at Peterborough’s Key Theatre after 42 years

Denis and Clive in rehearsal for Wind in the Willows
Denis and Clive in rehearsal for Wind in the Willows

It’s more than 40 years since Peterborough Revellers’ Denis Stapleton appeared on the stage of Peterborough’s Key Theatre.

It was in a play called Intent to Murder, written by the then well known television actor Leslie Sands. Denis had stood in at the last minute after hanging up his acting boots after taking major roles in numerous Revellers productions including Oliver, Chase Me Comrade, Tom Jones, Boeing-Boeing and Wait Until Dark, all directed and staged at the Millfield Hall under the eagle eye of the very talented but now sadly departed Keith Short.

The smell of the greasepaint and the roar of the crowd attracted Denis back when he heard that Revellers were to stage Oliver again in 2003 and his two grandsons joined to be part of Fagin’s gang. That was it, he was hooked again and took on a bit of directing, and (claiming he couldn’t learn lines anymore) a few small parts, including most recently creating the character ‘ im from Facit Fen’ who keeps turning up in Revellers’ variety supper theatres.

Appearing alongside Denis in ‘Intent to Murder’ and making his debut for the Revellers was Clive Read who has been at the forefront of local amateur dramatics in the city ever since. And now – after that break of 42 years – they are to team up again at the Key in the Revellers’ next production The Wind in the Willows, with Clive taking on the major part of Badger while Denis creates his own version of the lesser demanding Magistrate.

This family musical, adapted for the stage by Julian Fellowes from Kenneth Grahame’s much loved classic novel, follows the adventures of Ratty, Mole, Badger and Toad whose insatiable need for speed lands him in serious trouble with his home under threat from the notorious Chief Weasel and his gang of sinister Wild Wooders. This sparkling new musical with a glorious original score will provide a springtime theatrical treat for all ages. It runs from May 2 to 4. Tickets £15, £13 concessions, £45 family, £12.50 Group of ten plus. Available online at vivacity.org or call 01733 207239.