North East Wales

Rhyl Little Theatre for children celebrates 50 years

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Media captionDirector Gwynne Williams explains why Rhyl Little Theatre is special

A gala is being held in Denbighshire to mark the 50th anniversary of a purpose-built theatre for children.

The Little Theatre opened its current building in Rhyl in May 1963, although it began life in 1944.

A group of members past and present will perform a show in celebration on Saturday night.

Among them is Gwynne Williams, who joined the company as an eight-year-old a year after it opened in 1964.

As well as his own career in the performing arts, he remained involved with the club and has since become its theatre director.

Image caption The theatre runs a Saturday club for young actors to learn new skills

"I actually lied about my age to get in because you had to be nine," he said, referring his first role in pantomime Mother Goose.

"At that young age for me it was a fun place to be," he said.

Run with an adult support group, children can also learn the ropes backstage.

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Media captionTheatre director Gwynne Williams joined the theatre as an eight-year-old

"It's not just a career on the stage," said Mr Williams. "A lot are interested in lighting and staging, not everyone has to act."

The theatre was founded in 1944 by an actor evacuated to Rhyl. Its popularity grew and a theatre for children was built on its present site in Vale Road as the home of the Rhyl Children's Theatre Club.

Imarlie Stewart, aged 14, who sings in Saturday's gala, described how she became involved because she enjoys performing.

Old photographs of past shows and performers are on permanent display in the theatre. Many of those pictures are being projected on to the stage as part of a special anniversary performance on Saturday night.

Image caption Young actors in a scene from the panto Humpty Dumpty in the 1960s

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