How it all Began
The Sixties saw the start of many eras. One of these being the formation of the Wayfarers but HOW?
1962 Gordon MacDonald, “Mac”, (now our President), was asked to present some evening entertainment for St Johns Church in their small hall. To make to different he wrote some quickie sketches invited two or three soloists and added some dancers. He called this group of friends, The Wayfarers because this is what they were, talented people from a mixture of local companies. This format was again requested for the following year this time for two nights
1964 Seeing the potential saw Mac form a full committee and expand the company of Wayfarers to tread the boards at the old much larger St. Andrews Hall and Stage. He wrote two longer comedy sketches, Poor Nellie and Foolish Questions, some more quickies and the company embarked on Variety Shows with specialist novelty production numbers all created and produced by Mac. This first three night show was called, A song A Dance and A Smile. It was a success. (Lots of excerpts were performed in the provinces for local charities to members credit)
1965 Mac and his hard working committee presented another Song, Dance and Smile, then with audiences growing in
1966 Thats your Lot hit town
1967 Autumn Capers
1968 The Wayfarers presented a four night show called Christmas Crackers the second half of which Mac wrote as a potted-panto spoof. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs which brought in lots of Pantomime Characters. It was our first taste of Pantoland, and didnt it do well. That was it.
1969 Saw the Wayfarers Committee make the big decision to tackle full length traditional Pantomime with all its complexities.
Our ever increasing and supportive audiences were treated at the old St Andrew’s Church Hall in Rowbarton to the well-known Pantomime Dick Whittington. It was a great success and we were proud to record that we made a handsome profit of 1 shilling and six pence exactly!! It was at this time that the Wayfarers decided that part of any profit made from future shows would go to local causes, (a tradition we still carry on today, with all raffle proceeds being donated to our chosen Charity each year).
So Panto fever struck and Mac over the years created and wrote 10 full length Pantomimes using any excuse for spectacle and panto magic. He directed all the first 17 pantomime productions. We even have our own Good Night song, written for us by Mac, a well known trade mark to our regular supporters.
1978 saw the Wayfarers make their inspired progression to the newly built Brewhouse Theatre and Arts Centre, where they staged the ever popular pantomime, Cinderella, and here we have remained, spending year after year performing the Pantomimes that you all love and enjoy.
2007 and our junior group, Taunton Wayfarers’ Youth Group (TWYGs) was founded to meet the needs of young people between 8 and 16 who have seen our shows and want to get involved in theatre studies. See a our TWYGs page on what happens there and how to get involved.
NOW Over the last 50 or so years, our shows have hopefully maintained their professionalism. Unusual special effect UV scenes, for instance, were to become a highlight feature of all Wayfarer Pantomimes, along with our outstanding special effects, magic and pyrotechnics. Times move on and now digital animations are projected to fill the stage, but flashes, bangs and smoke still play their part.
So, when we look back at our history, the Wayfarers owe their thanks to Gordon Macdonald, whose foresight and dedication with many others, helped form the basis of a fun loving and talented Society. Over the years, the dreams of Mac have been kept together by a dedicated committee, a production team including many memorable producers, musical directors and dance co-ordinators together with a committed group of members, some new, some old, on the stage and backstage – but none too old to enjoy nothing more than presenting the magic of Pantomime to you, our audience young and old. We thank you for supporting us throughout the years and hope to see you again soon.
(Oh Yes We Do!!)