Sadness at death of veteran actors

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Former Lynn News reporter Richard Parr has penned the following tribute following the deaths of two veteran actors:

The footlights of the amateur stage in West Norfolk have been somewhat dimmed recently.

Geoff Wilkinson and Ron Thurston have been treading the boards on the amateur stage for many decades and they both gave freely and willingly of their time and talents in numerous roles to entertain local audiences.

Both Geoff and Ron were made honorary life members of the King’s Lynn Players in recognition of the significant contribution they made to the long-established Society’s success.

Geoff, together with his late wife, Margaret, were well-known by am-dram theatre audiences for their portrayals on stage.

In addition to individual accomplished character roles in numerous productions, Geoff and Margaret were known for their Music Hall variety shows with their trademark appearance as Pearly King and Queen in the cockney musical routines. Geoff also took on the role of the MC in these shows.

Perhaps Geoff’s biggest claim to fame was his excellent portrayal of Fagin in the musical Oliver!.

Geoff always said that Fagin was his favourite role and it was one he played several times on the Lynn stage.

His second favourite role was that of Professor Henry Higgins in the classic musical My Fair Lady.

His Professor Higgins, opposite Amanda’s Arterton’s Eliza Doolittle, was a joint memorable triumph of singing and acting in the widely acclaimed show.

In the same production, Mr Thurston played Eliza’s father, Alfred P Dootlittle, the common dustman who goes on to become a millionaire. Who can forget Ron’s marvellous portrayal in the musical number, I’m Getting Married in the Morning.

He was a joy to watch and audiences loved his rich characterisation.

These two accomplished amateur actors will be sadly missed but what a lovely legacy they have left in the entertainment they have given through the years.

I feel sure that at their respective funerals, they will be looking down on their final farewell performances from the best seats in the House.