A WHITCHURCH entertainment stalwart has been convinced to return to the piano for the next production of a performance group.

Whitchurch Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society (WOADS) will be back in 2024 for its centenary year with two productions.

And it is this milestone that has led to David Stokes, a long-time behind-the-scenes man, to return to the piano and become musical director for the shows.


Maria Lea, from WOADS, said the group was delighted with the news.

She said: “One hundred years ago heralded the first production of WOADS with The Gondoliers followed in 1925 by the ever-popular Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado.

“Apart from a break of a couple of years the society has successfully put on shows every year.

“However, the society couldn’t survive without the amazing people behind the scenes and one of those is David Stokes. 

“Kay Ikin persuaded David to join the ‘Operatic’ in 1981 when the previous rehearsal pianist was retiring.

“David’s love for music and obvious talent at the piano made him an asset to the society and along with Rob Lewis supported the society for many years.

“They were made Honorary Members in recognition of their services to the society.  

“Understandably going from show to show David and Rob found that they needed a break and ended their tenure with Fiddler on the Roof.

“David put his passion for music to good use by leading Fauls Singers who he has been involved with for more than 40 years. 

“With 2024 being the centenary year, David has been persuaded to dust off the piano keys and has come back to musically direct Wind in the Willows.”

David added: “Mr heart was always with the WAODS.

“I have many friends there, Kay sang with my mum and my sister was always in the orchestra, I knew I’d probably go back sometime but a lot of my time was dedicated the Fauls Singers.

“With this being the 100th anniversary and pianists being in short supply I wanted to give back the society’.”

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Lee Halliwell Williams, director of Wind in the Willows, added: “We are so grateful to David for coming back to the society this year.

“It really feels like we’ve come full circle and there’s a great buzz about the production which I think is down to David.

Wind in the Willows will be performed in SJT Sports Hall from May 29-31 at 7pm, on May 30 at 1pm and June 1 at 4pm – tickets are available now through www.waods.net