Northam Theatre Group a part of couples life

Northam couple, Anne and Michael Letch, have both been a pivotal part of the Northam Theatre Group for over 50 years.

To be exact, Michael has been involved for 64 years, and Anne for 54 years. 

Michael left Northam High School at 16-years-old and pursued his love of farming full-time.

Shortly after this, he was asked by a past teacher to be part of a play at the Northam Theatre Group. 

“They needed someone to act the part of an English schoolboy,” he said. 

“They slowed my speech down by half, told me which way to turn – and that was it.”

Anne said it was an “unusual” thing for a farmer's son to do.

“It is very unusual in country groups – farmers don’t usually go for on stage,” she said.

“They usually go for sports or the Lions Club.”

Michael said farming families have always been part of Northam theatre. 

“Many farming families in Northam have been tangled up with the Northam Theatre Group in one way or another down the years,” he said. 

Anne moved to Northam, taking a relief teacher role and got into theatre for “something to do”.

She was at her first reading, for the Reluctant Debutante, when she saw Michael for the first time, and was not initially impressed.

Michael explained, “I got a phone call from the director asking me to be in the play – but I was so busy on the farm.

“I stormed through the doors in my overalls, after seeding all day and said, “have you found anyone for the play?”

“The director said, “no and if you don’t do it, it can’t go on,” so I grabbed the script and stomped out again.”

“She thought – what a pig!” he joked.

Anne agreed. “I said to everybody, what a rude man!” she joked. 

Michael took the part, which was Anne’s husband in the play. 

Mr and Mrs Letch were engaged three months later and have been involved with the theatre ever since. 

History 

Michael said the theatre nearly died off when the television was introduced in the 1970’s. 

“That gave us a really hard time,” he said.

“We got through it, but it was a bit of a battle.”

Anne and Michael said the big difference now, from the early years, is the way technology is used in shows for music and effects.

“You just pick up your iphone and there it is,” said Anne. 

James Byfield was a talented performer and musician who largely influenced the Northam Theatre Group, said Michael.

“He was a brilliant musician” he said. “We were able to do (fundraiser) music hall shows because of him,” added Anne. 

Anne said without the profit from those shows, the theatre would have never been able to pay off their loan and in turn, would never have got the Link Theatre. 

The pair said many well known Northam families have been involved, or are still involved with the theatre group, including the Dempsters, Wildings, Sermons and Parkers. 

The future 

Michael wrote a three-act comedy show called Indaba last year, which Anne directed. 

Anne is directing a show next year called Family Circles about relationships between parents and their sons and daughters in-law. 

The next show by the Northam Theatre Group is three-act comedy, A Star on the Door, playing at the Link Theatre in August. 

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