In the late 1950’s and early 1960’s the Dundee branch of the Memorable Order of Tin Hats (“Moths”), an ex serviceman’s (and women’s) organization, put on a series of musicals to raise money to pay off the mortgage bond on the Memorial Hall. This hall had been built to commemorate the sacrifice and service of Dundee and District residents who served in World War Two. The production company was called “Endumeni Moth Productions.”

Looking back on these shows one cannot help being impressed with how the small town of Dundee managed to successfully put on a succession of shows with entirely amateur performers, most of whom had never done anything like participate in a musical production in their lives. People known only as farmers and painters and teachers emerged from artistic obscurity to be “discovered” as singers, dancers, and musicians (Dundee even produced violinists for the show orchestras!). It was a wonderful time of artistic accomplishment that was probably never accomplished prior to the run of musicals nor thereafter. So in addition to being a history of a remarkable series of events and community participation, this article is also a tribute to the talents and enthusiasm of the enterprising inhabitants of Dundee in the 1950s and 1960s.

The first of the musicals presented by Endumeni Moth Productions was the “Girls of Gottenberg”, which was presented in 1958. The play was produced by Molly Bennett (who farmed with her husband Sid in the Wasbank area), assisted by Tom Dobson. The local Moths and their spouses and supporters plunged into preparing for the new experience (for most) of appearing on stage. In the course of the auditions some rather talented performers were revealed – like the fact that former WW2 fighter pilot John Sparks had a very good singing voice, as did local house painter Henry Papenfus!

The Girls of Gottenberg show was so successful that in went on the road, with shows being put on in Newcastle, Ladysmith and Vryheid. A number of photographs of the show appear in the Photo Gallery section of this website (by courtesy of Norman Hesom, who was the pianist in the orchestra). The cast members, in order of appearance, were George Clark, James Teversham, Henry Papenfus, Tom Dudley, Pat Foley, Ken Simpson, John Sparks, Vernon Whysall, Reg Beavitt, Jimmy Seymour, Alan Doyle, Phyl Field, Ron Pyke, Shirley Moore, Daphne Clark, Eleanor Harbour, Bert Walters, Iris Dobson, Una Friis, Denis Smith, Sid Bennett, Mick de Waal, and Don Trollope. The choruses included Banie van Eeden, George Snyman, Roy Kirkness, Eric Friis, Wendy Elliott, Elvira Coffey, Peggy Sparks, Nelsie Trimmer, Marjorie Whitfield, Gwynneth Hyde, Hazel Robertson, Nola Stokkeland, Hazel Durham, Felicity Turnbull, Lottie Eksteen, Esme’ Vorster, Margaret Connellan, Jo Hartman, and Yvonne Kirkness. The conductor of the orchestra was Ken Strachan, and the orchestra comprised Norman Hesom (piano), Inga Vermaak (cello) Espie Badenhorst (violin) and Austen Madden (drums).

The Girls of Gottenberg was followed by “A Country Girl” in 1959. Among cast members who had not appeared in the Girls of Gottenberg were Ted Moore, Pixie Mann, Alvis Beavitt, Dorothy McKechnie, Bill Bird, Isabella Buys, Shirley Roberts, Eunice Baker, Beryl Cockrell, Yvonne Durham Hillary Exter, Louise Fouche, Janet Hall, Joy Hesom, Ramona Kemp, Pat Mason, Sylvia Moore, Maureen Murray, Margaret Rautenbach, Felicity Turnbull, Marjorie Whitfield, Jill Whitty, Gordon Campbell, Gert de Jager, Roy Demont, Barry Greer, Gerald Gregory, Wilfred Mason, Clyde Mitchell, Dave Trimm, Paul Whysall, and Rory Wolmarans. “A Country Girl” was produced by Hazel Durham, assisted by Austen Madsen, with Norman Hesom as the Musical Director. The “Backroom Boys and Girls” were John Sparks and Ken Simpson (chief administrative muddlers); James Teversham (stage manager); Joan Evans (scenery designer); Dave Trim and Binks Tait (scenery construction); Heather Griffiss (scenery painting, props and supports); Charlie Ronald (lighting); Margaret Simpson and Shirley Tait (“rags and hides”); Lou Smith (“warpaint”); Beryl Cockrell (choreography); Ken Simpson (“decimal coinage”); Marjorie Whitfield (scribe); Ann and Anthony Richards (“publicity and scandal”); George Clark, Bill Bird, and Denis Smith (“transport disorganizers”); Glynn Durham (“leading tourist”); and Maureen Smith (prompt).

The next musical in the sequence was “White Horse Inn”, in 1961, which was produced by Hazel Durham. In addition to five performances in Dundee, the show also went on the road with performances in Bergville, Eshowe, Vryheid, Ladysmith, Newcastle, and Estcourt. The Courier article on the show described it as “A Sparkling Production.” Reflecting the public consensus of the time, the Courier observed that:

These “musicals” have become a part of the life of Dundee, a part which it is hoped will continue to flourish. Not only do they provide the public with delightful entertainment, but for those taking part there is that “getting together” of all kinds of people and the team spirit which is so invaluable in any community.

The Musical Director of White Horse Inn was Sheila Durham, and the Chorus Master was Reg Beavitt. The orchestra comprised Catherine Cameron (piano), Lily Honywill and Pat Rieff (violinists), and Hugh Cameron (drums).

The principals of White Horse Inn were Reg Beavitt, Annette Bester, Louis Steenkamp, Lea Pringle, John de Wet, Yvonne Durham, and James Teversham. The other performers, in order of appearance, were Susie Zylstra, Faan Aucamp, Martin Hartigan, Joan Rieff, Paul Whysall, Bob Hulley, Ludi Kruger, Dennis Gehren, Ken Marshall, Albert Roffey, and Vernon Whysall. The ladies’ chorus comprised Aileen Beavitt, Nelsie Trimmer, Yvonne Webber, Joan Rieff, Susie Zylstra, Jill Whitty, Vicky Tampacopoulos, Mona Kemp, Marg Whitfield, Dot Adams, Sylvia Curtis, Sylvia Moore, Mary Soden, Shirley Lowe, Ina Whiteman, Ludi Kruger, Renate Engelbrecht, Elisabeth Scriba, Pikkie Stanbury, Yvonne Durham, Erika Peters, and Edith Lammerding. The mens’ chorus comprised Faan Aucamp, Louis Fouche’, Ken Marshall, Dennis Gehren, Glyn Durham, Wilf Mason, Charlie Ronald, Bob Hulley, Albert Roffey, Vernon Whysall, Paul Whysall, John de Wet, Anthony Courtney, and martin Hartigan. The “Dancers” were Jilly Whitty, Mary Soden, Shirley Lowe, Sylvia Curtis, Yvonne Webber, Vicky Tampacopoulos, Edith Lammerding, Renate Engelbrecht, Erika Peters, Paul Whysall, Louis Fouche’, Ken Marshall, Charlie Ronald, Glyn Durham, and Martin Hartigan.

The “Backroom Boys and Girls were Glyn Durham (Stage Manager, Scenery Shifter, and Scenery Construction), Bob Holliday, G. McKenzie, and Anthony Courtney (Scene Shifters), Wendy Elliott (Scenery Design, Costume Design, and Dresser), Mesdames D. McKenzie, S. de Waal, L. Klingenberg, and Anthony Courtney (Scenery Painting), Yvonne Durham (Wardrobe Mistress), Shirley Tait, Jean Teversham, and Mesdames Molly Wynne, Bowen, Roffey, Ria Abraham, and Nixon (Seamstresses), Ria Klingenberg (Hats), Esme Whysall, E. van Rooyen and L. Klingenberg (Make Up), K. Abraham, Joy Holliday, P. Roffey, and P. Bowen (dressers), George Clark (Curtain), Hylton Smith (Transport Manager and OC Convoy), Claude Stanbury (Prompter), Jill Whitty (Dance Arrangements), Duro Thole and J. Honibal (Sound Effects), Albert Roffey and Corrie Lundin (Publicity). So a number of participants were multi-tasking!

Perhaps the most successful production of Endumeni Moth Productions was “Rio Rita”, presented in 1963, which was produced by Molly Bennett. This production toured almost throughout Natal in October and November of 1963, with presentations as far afield as Pietermaritzburg, Volksrust, and Mtunzini. The cast of Rio Rita, once again in order of appearance, was George Clark, Eric Friis, Bob Hulley, Annette Bester, Evan Jones, Reg van Niekerk, Michael Backhouse, Len Dando, Pat Wells, Belle Wade, Reg Beavitt, Una Friis, John de Wet, Vernon Whysall, and Leonie Nicoll. Reg Beavitt was the chorus master, and his choristers included Elvira Coffey, Ria Booysen, Marjorie Watling, Gwen Greenough, Mary Horrocks, Mary Friis, Sophia Provost, Kathleen Jackson-Smith, Marge Whitfield, Alet Coetzee, Yvonne Durham, Daphne Clark, Rene’ Marinus, Johnny van Wyk, Pat Wells, Audrey Hardy, Marinella Williams, Aileen Beavitt, Louis Fouche’, Chris Coetzee, Ian Nicoll, Cyril Rogers, Joe Milne, Neil Whysall, Albert Roffey, George Basson, Robert Sliney, Steve Bothma, Louis Steenkamp, Derek Vinnicombe, John Lloyd, Duro Thole, Henry Muller, Willem Boshoff, Toby Page, Barry Childs, Jack Harvey, Sid Bennett, Steve Bothma, Winnonah Murray, Valerie Moore, Jill Whitty, Diana Bennett, Leslie Forsyth, Pat Murray, Emmarentia du Preez, and Celi Meyer.

The Rio Rita “Back-Room Boys and Girls” were George Clark (Stage Manager), S. Odendaal, P. Viljoen and A. Jones (Stage Staff), Joan Evans and Leonie Vincent (Scenery Design), Leonie Vincent, Katrina Backeberg and Sid Bennett (Scenery Painting), J&K Construction Staff Members (Scenery Construction), Wendy Elliott (Costume Design and Wardrobe Mistress), Merle Archbell (O.C. Props), Hugh Mackintosh, Louis Albertse, Justin Ludewig and Johan Hermann (Lighting), Molly Bennett (Makeup), Peggy Roffey, Ivy Jones, Joy Holliday, and Elizabeth Hulley (Dressers), Les Archbell (Curtain), Hylton Smith (Transport Manager and O.C. Convoy), Maureen Smith (Prompter), Duro Thole (Sound Effects), and Albert Roffey and Corrie Lundin (Publicity).

After Endumeni Moth Productions ceased operations, the tradition of Dundee musicals was continued by others. The shows produced included “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” in 1962, “Golden City Musical” in 1967 (produced by Molly Bennett), and “Brigadoon” in 1969 (produced by Hazel Durham and Gordon Campbell for the Rotary Club). These shows included a number of Dundee’s “Baby Boomer” generation, e.g. Bevin Shirley, Charmaine Bennett, Laverne Friis, David Baxter, Brian Baker, Delmarie Mouton, Drienie Mouton, Patricia Connellan, Beverley Eason, Jonathan Walters, Dick Stanbury, and Craig Smith (in Snow White), Craig Smith, Sophie Provost and Ian Dando (in “Golden City”), and Ian Dando, Rose Godfrey, and Gail Lundin (in Brigadoon).

The leads in Snow White were Joy Holliday, Margaret Connellan, Evan Jones, Vernon Whysall, Rory Wolmarans, Bob Holliday, Dorothy McKechnie, Elvira Coffey, Albert Roffey, Baby Connellan, Hazel Robertson, Frances Carbutt, Barry Greer, Albert van Wyk, Dave Bogle, Harry Auld, Jimmy Douglas, and Rory Wolmarans. The other cast members were Dodo Shirley, Felicity Turnbull, Mary Friis, and Yvonne Durham (ladies in waiting); Louis Steenkamp and Bevin Shirley (heralds); Charmaine Bennett, Jan Bierman, John Connellan, Patricia Connellan, Laverne Friis, Drienie Mouton, Carol Gordon, Fiona Krause, Gillian Connellan, Greg Connellan, and Beverly Eason (gnomes, fairies, pigeons, and pages); Jan Maritz, David Baxter, Brian Baker, Jonathan Walters, Jan Vermaak, Dick Stanbury, and Craig Smith (dwarfs); and Jill Whitty, Denise Whitty, Jill Forsythe, Lynette Murray, June Roffey, and Denise Robertson (spirits, dancers and companions of Snow White).

“Golden City” was described in its programme as “A Musical Romance of the South African Gold Rush,” and a tale of romance and intrigue that starts in Green Market Square in Cape Town and ends up in the Johannesburg goldfields. But it has a far too complicated plot to summarize in a sentence here. The principals were Anna Ware, Willem van Rensburg, Francis Carbutt, school teacher Elna Cronje, Margaret Buys, Carl Meiring, school teacher Emelie Nel, Hazel Jones, Casper Fivaz, Pat Foley, Craig Smith, Bob Hulley, and Sophie Provost.

Other cast members included Len Dando, school teacher Siegfried Schumann, Carl Wilcox, Johannes Bezuidenhout, Renier Rheeder, Felicity Harber, Anna Snyman, Lettie Gordon, Myra Patterson, Johan van Nierop, Charmaine Bennett, Dave Ware, Keith Gordon, Shaun Richards, Willem Boshoff, Arthur Kelbrick, Stephen Dubell , Di Bennett, Lesley Forsyth, Emmarentia Jooste, Norma de Klerk, Frances Serfontein, Myra Patterson, Suzy Coertsen, Susan Scholtz, Gail Lundin, Anna Snyman, Kathleen Jackson-Smith, Marie van Rensburg, Elizabeth Adendorff, Thelma Wilms, Gretl Wichmann, Betta Scannell, Hannie Breytenbach, David Malherbe, Ian Dando, and Piet Coertzen.

The “backstage and props” group comprised Trevor Fitzpatrick, Raymond van Vuuren, Robbie Fitzpatrick, Piet Viljoen, school teacher Leonie Vincent, Fenette Smith, Jill Bennett, “Mesdames. Adendorff, Landsberg, Gordon, DuPlessis, Oats, Murray and Riddell” (Wardrobe), Amy Thompson, Gwen Rafferty, Joey Heckler, I. Jons, Vincent Anderson, and Margaret Maythom. And the accompanists were Norman Hesom (piano) and Margie Milne (organ).

The cast members of Brigadoon, in order of appearance, were Norman Hesom, Dave Ware, Phillip Fouche’, Hugh Cameron, Rodney Kayne, June King, Gordon Campbell, Hazel Jones, Beryl Cockrell, Eric Tame, James Teversham, Joe Milne, Olga Peldlebury, Bob Bentley, Glyn Durham, Myrtle Purdy, Mellory Holmes, Fred Balzer, Denis Fennell, Rosalyn Fennell, Rosalyn Cherry, Carl Meiring, Jennifer Cross, Piet Botes, Alice Gass, Terry van der Weerd, Drienie Lauf, Bill Rush, and Marge Whitfield. The dancers were Dinny Duncan, Leslie McAlpine, Maureen Roffey, Yvonne Durham, Lee Jenkins, and Val White. The orchestra consisted of Margie Milne (organist) and Cath Cameron (pianist), and the musical director was Sheila Durham. The “Backroom Boys and Girls” were Glyn Durham and James Teversham (stage management); Joan Evans, Yvonne Fouche’, Sherlee Wade, Sandra Andrews, Denise Thorne, and Lottie Martin (scenery); Joyce McNicol, Jean Teversham and Rotary Anns (costumes); Maureen Smith and Esme Whysall (costumes); Mabel Wecke and Ivy Jones (wardrobe mistresses); Ann Dando (make up); Leah Stroebel (hairstyles); Trevor Newman, Don White, Lew Kayne, Hugh Cameron, Wulf Hellberg, Theo Gehren, Denis Smith, and Heinz Stormans (transport); Bill Rush, Fred Balzer, and Cecil Wecke (lighting); Sid Stuart and Bunny Elliott (publicity); and Albert Roffey and Harold Jones (programmes).

Acknowledgements and Thanks 

I gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Norman Hesom in providing the information on which this article is primarily based.  Norman made available his copies of the show programmes, and also the photographs which appear in the Photo Gallery forming part of this website (my apologies for the poor quality of many of the photos, which were scanned off photocopies - donations of original prints will be heartily welcomed!).  Norman also provided invaluable assistance in identifying the performers in the photographs.

Thanks also to Charlie Paijmans for the programme of Golden City, and to James Teversham for the programme of White Horse Inn, and the related Courier article.

Last updated January 17, 2010