There were several amateur groups in the Cynon Valley that produced annual ‘West End’ musicals or Operetta . These shows were major productions that ran for typically 8 nights, commencing and finishing on a Saturday. There was a group based in the Coliseum which still exists, now called the Colstars, another at Abercwmboi Institute and the Cynon Amateur Operatic Society that performed at the Coliseum but was based at The Fairfield Educational Settlement (Coleg Gwerin Cynon) not far from Pendarren Street in Foundry Town. The programme below is for their 1960 production of The Gipsy Princess.
At this time, Mr Gwilym Treharne was the warden at the Settlement having taken over the post from Mr. T.J. Lewis in about 1956. As I lived next door to the Settlement, Gabe Treharne and I helped out from time to time with the activities of the centre. As far as the Operatic Society was concerned, we both lacked the necessary talents to contribute in any way to the production, so we were put to work as programme sellers in the auditorium. Consequently, some of these programmes fell into my hands and a scan of one of them is shown below.
Looking through the programme, there are various names that older Aberdarians will recognise. I notice that the school strings teacher, Marie Howells, played in the orchestra together with Mr. A. Williams from Broniestyn Terrace who regularly played the double bass in our school concerts too. The Merriman family from Cwmaman contributed three members of the company, though not John from the boys school. Mrs Marion Merriman was a dance teacher who had her own troupe called "The Marionettes" in those days; she directed the Corps de Ballet in this production. Wilfred Canter was the father of John Canter who featured prominently in the musical life of the school in the late sixties. Phyllis Morley Jones was conductor of several groups - she used to deputise for T.R. James with the Cwmbach Male Choir, and she also conducted the Mountain Ash Choral Society. Mr. E.R. Walters, who was the treasurer of the society, ran Siop y Parc, well known to all boys of the school.