The Gilbert and Sullivan Society of Sussex

The Gilbert and Sullivan Society of Sussex

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On Sunday 5th February 2017 at 12:30 for 1:00 pm
in the Birch Hotel
Lewes Road, Haywards Heath

 The Gilbert and Sullivan Society of Sussex’s
sixth Annual Celebrity Lunch

speaker Keith Dry






Forty people booked for this very popular event at which the Society welcomed Keith Dry.

Keith was born in an Anderson shelter 20th May 1941; only his Aunt Irene Beasley was there to assist his mother.  To start his breathing his Aunt gently slapped causing him to let out a loud squawk at which his aunt exclaimed, “He is going to be musical”. His mother’s family was very musical and they went round entertaining the troops stationed in the area. The villages of Sproxton where Keith lived and nearby Buckminster were raising funds to buy a Spitfire, during the festivities for this, Keith met Peter who lived in Buckminster. The next day, Keith wanting to see his new friend walked to Buckminster, now during this time Keith’s parents were concerned he had been away for such a long time and started a search for him to no avail, and then Keith’s mother saw him coming up the road in the hand of his friend’s mother. Keith’s mother too relived at seeing Keith safe and sound to reprimand him. However, his parents asked what Peter and he had been doing together, singing Keith’s replied Peter had sung ‘Twinkle Twinkle little star’ and he ‘Tit Willow’, But you don’t know it exclaimed his mother, to which he replied yes I do because you are always singing it to me. That however was a mistake, I a three-year-old, then had to accompany the family at their concerts, stand up, and sing before all these soldiers.

When he went to school, the first production in which he appeared as Pitti-Sing one of the Three Little Maids in the Mikado. The girl who played Yum-Yum was the headmaster’s daughter with whom he was always in trouble.

In senior school Keith, said that in academic subjects he was near the bottom of the class, but in music and sport he excelled. His school in conjunction with the adjacent girl’s school put on two productions of G & S each year. The first of these was ‘Yeomen’, the girl who played Phoebe had a gorgeous contralto voice and Keith fell hopelessly in love with her, sadly she did not reciprocate this; she went on to have children who too are G&S fans. The next production was the Mikado in which Keith played the Mikado; the ‘daughter-law-elect’ was considerably older, she was the headmaster’s wife. After leaving school, Keith joined a local operatic society who mainly performed G & S and whose musical director was a Margaret Furnace who introduced Keith to her God Father Malcom Sergent, who at the age of 15 had been musical director of St Mary’s Church Melton Mowbray where Keith was then living.

Sergent asked Keith what he wanted to do for a living and Keith replied that he would love to be a singer but was concerned his dyslexia would be a handicap in learning the words. Sergent a lover of G & S and being told that he too was not only a fan and knew most of the lyrics too suggested that he approach the D’Oyly Carte Company and wrote them a letter of introduction. The outcome was that Keith joined the company without first being auditioned!. However Isadore Godfrey who interviewed said you must not only sing the part you have to look the part, the first thing we have to send you to the gym. Keith then was only 8 stones and a young looking 18 youth of 18, concurrently he was sent to perform with local operatic societies wearing costumes provided by the D’Oyly Carte Company. When he started with the Company, he would do anything they wished, a dresser, understudy, on stage as a scene mover, what a glorious way this was to learn how a theatre works and everyone is so dependent on everyone else.

There came a time when Keith’s voice had matured and put on some beef, thus was ready to understudy; some people allow understudies to use their own interpretation of the role, thus are easy to understudy; others expect all their gestures and inflections to be copied meticulously, a very different kettle of fish. His association with D’Oly Carte was not long, dictated by circumstances, what he remembered more than anything else was being in a production of Princes Ida when he was one of King Gama’s soldiers the magic of that has lasted with me forever. The other thing that it taught me was if you are doing something you do it with your whole self, you do it with belief, you do it with excitement and you do it to your best ability. Something for you to carry it into our everyday lives isn’t it.

Keith now sings in two choirs, bass in one and tenor in the other also play in a band, as he said at least mime.

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1212- 002   Keith Dry

1212- 001

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1212- 003   standing Keith Dry, Bill Colbourne

        Middle Elke & Chris Whitehead, Clare Samson
        Front June Martin, Peter Parker

1212- 004   standing Keith Dry, Sylvia Nixon
seated Brenda & John Cannon, Sylvia Nixon

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