Society Members' Profiles


Here is a “rogues gallery” of many of our regular and not so regular members. Some have been with us performing in pantomime and other plays since early childhood (even more will appear here once they have reached 18). I have also included members from the more recent past who were with us for some time and therefore played a large part in the Society before moving on or sadly passing away.

Charlotte Allum

Charlotte Allum [FDS member 2008-2017]: Lottie has been in all ten FDS pantos since Peter Panto 2008 (at the age of about 9). As well as being a panto regular, Lottie has appeared in FCC’s production of Annie, played Phoebe in Cold Comfort Farm 2010.and was a fairy in A Midsummer Night’s Dream 2013. Dance is one of her great loves and she very much enjoyed working on the choreography in The Scarlet Pumpernickel 2014.

Most recent appearance: Margaret, Sir Loin’s betrothed in Arthur’s Adventure 2017.

Dominic Allum

Dominic Allum [FDS member 2012-2017]: Dom has been in all six FDS pantos since Cinderella 2012, followed by Jack and the Beanstalk 2013, The Scarlet Pumpernickel 2014, and The Snow Queen 2015, . You may remember him as Sneak (or was it Squeak?) the mouse in Happily Ever After 2016. He’s pleased to return to human form again and to play the role of Robin in Arthur's Adventure 2017.

Most recent appearance: Robin in Arthur’s Adventure 2017.

Sebastian Allum

Sebastian Allum [FDS member 2007-2015]: Seb has been in all nine FDS pantos since Pirates of the Faribbean 2007 (at the age of about 9). He received a special award for “Most Outstanding Young Actor” for his part as Idle Jack in Dick Whittington 2011. His last panto as Carlo in Snow Queen 2015 was his first one as “leading man”. For straight parts he has played Luke in Cold Comfort Farm 2010 and took two roles in Reflections 2014 (a corporal and a second lieutenant). He has also performed for the Wantage Stage Musical Company, where he played Peter in The Railway Children. His dream is to become a professional actor and perform on a West End Stage.

Most recent appearance: Carlo in The Snow Queen 2015.

Sue Ashforth-Smith

Sue Ashforth-Smith This is Sue’s first time with FDS and combining her love for acting with the Italian language is a dream come true. She was involved with the Cotswold Arcadians from 1997 (nurse in Romeo & Juliet) through many productions including The Tempest (Ariel), Midsummer night’s dream (Titania) and The Winter’s Tale (twice, most recently in 2022. Sue has also contributed to many plays, readings and pantomimes with Filkins Theatre, memorably playing Alice in Wonderland while six months pregnant. That son is now also a keen amateur actor!

Most recent appearance: Costanza in Enchanted April 2024.

Jeff Barry

Jeff Barry Although Jeff has spent most of the last few years behind the scenes in stage management and set construction he has had major roles in Dancing at Lughnasa 2004, The Cherry Orchard 2006, Cold Comfort Farm 2010 and The Odd Couple 2011. In 2006 many people will recall his fall down two flights of stairs as Garry Lejeune in Noises Off. Jeff made his directorial debut the following year with The Importance of being Earnest 2007. More recent stage appearances were as Tom – the hapless vet in Living Together 2015 and Tom (again) in My Friend Miss Flint 2017.

Most recent appearance: Major Robbie Ross in Our Country’s Good 2019.

Gary Bates

Gary Bates Garry joined the group in 1998. Although he can usually be found as part of the backstage crew of FDS (lighting and sound effects) My Friend Miss Flint 2017 as Mr Dodds is his second appearance on stage at Buscot. The previous year he played Rev. Paul Latimer in Side Effects 2016 and he is pleased to be back on the boards especially in this lovely theatre. Previous accolades have been an English soldier in Reflections 2014 and Officer O’Hara in Arsenic and Old Lace 2004.

Most recent appearance: Mr Dodds in My Friend Miss Flint 2017.

Lynda Bates

Lynda Bates Lynda has been a very active, non-acting member since 1998. She has served on the committee as our treasurer for 4 years and has also been helping to produce the many miracles of costumes within the wardrobe department. She will usually be seen front-of-house at most performances.

Jacob Bayliss

Jacob Bayliss Jacob writes: “I joined FDS in 2017 for two small roles in Cider with Rosie, and since then they haven't been able to get rid of me! FDS has been great at filling the theatre shaped hole in my life since leaving the sixth form where I studied Drama for A Level. I've had the wonderful opportunity of performing at Buscot Park theatre in Faringdon Follies, and then in Alan Ayckbourn’s Confusions (2022). This is the second time I've been the panto Villain - what must they think of me?

Most recent appearance: Carabosse in The Sleeping Beauty 2023.

Andrea Bond (née Smith)

Andrea Bond (née Smith) Andrea is a Dance and PE teacher, and she has appeared in several pantos over the past few years – she was the heroine Gloria in The Snow Queen 2015, Florence in Jack and the Beanstalk 2013 and before that she took the title role in Aladdin 2010. In the past Andrea has taken on other principal roles such as Cinderella and the Sugar Plum Fairy and her performance highlight to date was representing her county in the Millennium Dome in 2000.

Most recent appearance: Star in Wishing on a Star 2019.

Jason Boorman

Jason Boorman This is the first showing for Jason in an FDS show. He has acted, danced, and sung in many plays before including Grease, Bugsy Malone and Fiddler on the Roof, and loves the art; his passion and enthusiasm for bringing different characters to life will surely be apparent in what will be an amazing show. Please sit back comfortably, and allow yourself to be transported on a journey of discovery with Lion, as he discovers himself, in front of your very eyes, for who he really is!

Most recent appearance: Lion in The Ruby Slippers 2024.

Kayleigh Booth

Kayleigh Booth Kayleigh started with FDS as a young chorus girl in Cinderella (2012) and pretty much every panto since including Jack and the Beanstalk, The Scarlet Pumpernickel, The Snow Queen, and Happily Ever After in 2016. Although she plays a good fairy in this panto, no-one would say Kayleigh was typecast. In the past she has been a Dark Knight (Arthur’s Advenure, 2017), a nasty pirate (Dick Whittington), and a highwayman (Wishing on a Star) where she doubled as Clara.

Most recent appearance: Fairy Thoughtful in The Sleeping Beauty 2023.

Dominic Bullock

Dominic Bullock Dominic played Theseus when he was at school so he likes to take on challenging roles. He first appeared with FDS as the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland 1999, followed by Merlin in Arthur's Adventure 2002, the Master of Ceremonies in Cabaret 2002, Yepikhodov, the estate clerk in The Cherry Orchard 2006, and Oberon in A Midsummer Night's Dream 2013. He has since been involved in our fringe event So Long Leonard in 2017 and our epic Faringdon Town Nativity held in the Market Place later that year.

Most recent appearance: Midshipman Harry Brewer in Our Country’s Good 2019.

Suzanna Carter

Suzanna Carter Wishing on a Star in 2019 was Scooby's fourth panto appearance with FDS. Previously she has played Prince Charming (in Cinderella 2012), and Jack (of The Beanstalk) in 2013. Scooby had a few years away whilst starting a family but she was delighted to come perform the evil Morgan Le Fay in the panto Arthur’s Adventure 2017 and as the infamous Lucy in the hilarious comedy My Friend Miss Flint 2017.

Most recent appearance: Griselda, a witch in Wishing on a Star 2019.

David Couzens

David Couzens Ladies' Day is probably the first FDS play featuring not one but TWO married couples in the cast! David has been resting since his acclaimed appearance as Mrs Miggins in Milton Abbey School’s production of Sweeney Todd aged 15! Fifty years later he feels it is time to tread the boards once more. If only to keep an eye on his wife!

Most recent appearance: Joe in Ladies’ Day 2021.

Sarah Couzens

Sarah Couzens When she first joined FDS in 200I Sarah took on the title role in Daisy Pulls it Off (where she gave "a very convincing performance"). She has also been in Arsenic and Old Lace (2004), Living Together (2015), The Odd Couple and London Suite (both in 2011). Sarah's most recent appearances have been as Audrey in the Farndale Avenue Murder Mystery (2018) and the wizard Merlin in her first panto role.

Most recent appearance: Pearl in Ladies’ Day 2021.

Joshua Dunn

Joshua Dunn Josh’s first time on stage was at the Junior School, in their production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat (he was Pharaoh’s assistant). Since joining FDS in 2012 he has been more of a musician than an actor, playing guitar and bass. But he has really enjoyed being in some FDS productions lately - he was Sir Loin in Arthur’s Adventure 2017 and Jack in Cider with Rosie later the same year.

Most recent appearance: Boho, King of Barbary in Dick Whittington 2018.

Katie Dyet

Katie Dyet Katie's first appearance was as one of the Kit Kat Girls in Cabaret 2002 and since then has appeared in too many shows to mention. Her panto highlights might be when she performed as the Evil Queen in Happily Ever After 2016 and Jack Frost in The Snow Queen 2015. Other plays she has been in include Candleford 2008 (where she won critical acclaim but didn’t utter a word!), Wife After Death 2013, My Friend Miss Flint 2017, and Dick Whittington 2018. Katie has been the committee chair of FDS and has taken numerous roles behind the scenes and front of house.

Most recent appearance: The Sultana in Aladdin 2020.

Victoria Edmonds

Victoria Edmonds Vixz trained in singing and musical theatre from a young age and later studied performing arts; this led to becoming part of the entertainment crew on a holiday park on the South Coast. After a sixteen year gap due to work commitments we welcomed Vixz to FDS last year as Fairy Peaceful in Sleeping Beauty and we’re very pleased to see her back in this year’s panto. On a personal note, Vixz would like to dedicate her performances to her ever-supporting friends and family.

Most recent appearance: Wizard in The Ruby Slippers 2024.

Janie Eyre-Brook

Janie Eyre-Brook Janie first appeared in an FDS production over forty years ago - Beside the Seaside 1974. Since then she has been a member of several different groups and appeared in a wide variety of FDS productions including Our Town 2009, Aladdin 2010, Cold Comfort Farm 2010, Present Laughter 2012, A Midsummer Night’s Dream 2013, My Friend Miss Flint 2017, and Faringdon Follies 2018. She has also appeared in the “background” of several films and even pressed her body against Pierce Brosnan in The World is not Enough (well, someone had to do it).

Most recent appearance: Ifelda, a witch in Wishing on a Star 2019.

Gary Field

Gary Field Gary joined FDS in February 2005 and although he first worked backstage it wasn’t long before he stepped into the spotlight took his first role as the cynical manservant Yasha in The Cherry Orchard 2006. He has been in numerous plays since and taken several roles in panto (most recently as Sir Jikal-Trusse in Arthur’s Adventure 2017 and as Lord Uppham in Wishing on a Star 2019). Gary also directed I Thought I heard a Rustling 2009, Wife After Death 2013, My Friend Miss Flint 2017, and is the current chairman of FDS.

Most recent appearance: Ketch Freeman and Captain David Collins in Our Country’s Good 2019.

Mike Fraser

Mike Fraser Mike joins the cast as Frederick for his second FDS production, having played Martin in the 2022 production of Confusions – you may remember him as one of the diners in the one-act play Between Mouthfuls. However, although he claims to have been “keeping a low profile” Mike has been a mainstay of our panto band as the bass guitarist for the last two years. He’s thrilled to be treading the boards at Buscot Theatre again.

Most recent appearance: Frederick in Enchanted April 2024.

Amelia Green

Amelia Green “Oh, go on Mum, audition for one of the witches!” Millie had only come to the casting with her daughter Tabitha (one of the sprites) but was surprised to say the least when she ended up with a leading role. She has been a member of Bishopstone Dramatic Society for some years and has a degree in psychodrama, which is not as far removed from pantomime as you might think.

Most recent appearance: Esmerelda, a witch in Wishing on a Star 2019.

Dave Headey

Dave Headey Dave has directed several plays for FDS and has lost count of the number he has performed in since he joined way back in 1978 when he appeared as Chester Dreadnought in Post Horn Gallop. He has also appeared with Amegos Theatre, the Act IV Theatre Group and occasionally with Lechlade Players. It has been quite a challenge narrating Cider with Rosie 2017 as Laurie Lee himself – though a most enjoyable one – this being his first ever play where he has not exchanged a single line with any other cast member.

Most recent appearance: John Wisehammer and Captain Jemmy Campbell in Our Country’s Good 2019.

Ellie Hickman

Ellie Hickman Ellie’s first principal role was Long John Silver in St John’s School Carterton's Treasure Island. A talented dancer who has performed in a number of shows locally, we first saw Ellie as a young girl playing a fairy in Cinderella 2012 and again as one of Titania’s fairies in A Midsummer Night’s Dream 2013. Since then she has been a regular panto performer - Jack and the Beanstalk 2013, The Scarlet Pumpernickel 2014, The Snow Queen 2015, and Happily Ever After 2016. Her first principal part with FDS was as Mandy in Agatha Crusty 2016. Ellie hopes eventually to act professionally.

Most recent appearance: one of the Dark Knights in Arthur’s Adventure 2017.

Kia Howard

Kia Howard Kia seems to be making a habit of title roles! In 2017 she excelled in Cider with Rosie, but it was nine years ago, aged ten, Kia joined FDS for her first pantomime, as a very different Rose in The Snow Queen. In 2016 and 2017 she was in Happily Ever After (as Red Riding Hood) and Arthur's Adventure. Last year Kia took part in the FCC musical Back to the 80s and has also taken part in Macbeth in the Shakespeare schools festival at the Wyvern theatre.

Most recent appearance: Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty 2023.

Jayne Hoyland (née Isham)

Jayne Hoyland (née Isham) Jayne first joined us as one of the two charming and very silly girls in The Importance of Being Earnest 2007. Since then she has performed regularly in many productions in both small and more major parts. She has taken on various other roles too; from prompt and front-of-house to producer for Agatha Crusty and the Village Hall Murders 2016 and musical director for Arthur's Adventure 2017. Among her more recent acting roles were as Prince Charming in Happily Ever After 2016, Galaxy the Minstrel in Wishing on a Star 2019, a cocktail waitress in award winning Shakers 2019, Our Country’s Good 2019 and last year she was back to being silly in Act Naturally 2023.

Most recent appearance: Glinda in The Ruby Slippers 2024.

Bex Hutchings

Bex Hutchings Bex made her debut with FDS as an Ugly Sister (Petronella) in Happily Ever After (2016), then as a traditional pantomime dame (Mrs Tickleme) in Arthur’s Adventure (2017). In a very different role, you may have seen her as Tracey in Side Effects at Buscot Park Theatre (2016). Having won the NODA Best Pantomime Performer award for her role as King Norbert in Sleeping Beauty (2023) Bex then turned her hand to writing and directing – This year’s panto The Ruby Slippers (2024) was the result.

Most recent appearance: Lotty in Enchanted April 2024.

Kevin Jones

Kevin Jones Kevin was so excited when he got the part of Auntie Em in his debut for FDS, and even more excited when he read through the script. He’s performed in numerous pantomimes and plays for Stanford in the Vale drama group – most recently Cinders The True Story (2020), in a range of roles from court jester to wizard. But the role he has consistently found himself falling in love with is the dame. He’s looking forward to further pushing his acting ability alongside an extremely talented group of performers, musicians, and everyone else involved.

Most recent appearance: Aunt Em in The Ruby Slippers 2024.

Sandra Keen

Sandra Keen Sandra has been acting since 2001, starting with a production of Cinderella, and has since performed a wide range of roles including Lady Sneerwell in Sheridan's School for Scandal. Joining FDS in 2004 she has had major parts in the award-winning Dancing at Lughnasa 2004, The Odd Couple 2011, Wife After Death 2013, Living Together 2015 and as Sir Reale in the panto Arthur's Adventure 2017, 4 parts in Farndale Avenue Murder Mystery 2018. and many more performances in between.

Most recent appearance: Liz Morden and Lt. Will Dawes in Our Country’s Good 2019.

Ian Lee

Ian Lee Never to be seen on stage except perhaps behind the curtain, Ian has been a member since 1990 and has had various jobs. Mostly they include child co-ordinator, parking supervisor, and front-of-house for the pantomimes. Behind the scenes he created and now maintains our web site, mailing lists, and online ticket sales. He served on the committee as our membership secretary for 4 years and continues to maintain our membership records.

Joan Lee

Joan Lee Joan joined the Dramatic Society in 1987, and after making the mistake of admitting that she could sew, has been on the wardrobe team ever since. A panto star, she is more often seen in animal roles, being in her time a lion, two halves of a horse, a fish and a toad. Her more recent stage appearances were in Steel Magnolias 2014, as Agatha Crusty’s sister-in-law in 2016, Granny Trill in Cider with Rosie 2017, as Tapioca Dripping, the cook in Dick Whittington 2018, and as Meg Long and Reverend Johnson in Our Country’s Good 2019.

Most recent appearance: Mildred in Act Naturally 2023.

Roger Leitch

Roger Leitch [FDS member 1993-2008]: Roger is one of that rare breed who has featured as actor, director and writer with FDS. He first performed as Dr. Bradman in Blithe Spirit 1993 and after appearing in many productions his last stage appearance was as Selsdon in Mowbray in Noises Off 2006. His director's credits include such diverse productions as Oh What a Lovely War 1999 and Separate Tables 2003. Roger also created and produced the Old Tyme Music Hall in 1995 and wrote the pantomime Dreamers performed in 2006, which he based loosely on A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Amanda Linstead

Amanda Linstead Amanda’s first production with FDS was in Daisy Pulls it Off (2001), followed by Brush Up Your Shakespeare and Cabaret (2002) as Sally Bowles and too many more to mention. The Snow Queen (2015) was her first role in a panto, it was the starring role as the “baddie” herself! She went on to perform in many more productions, and also helped with directing, choreography and front of house. After five years living abroad, we’re very pleased to see Amanda back on stage.

Most recent appearance: Rose in Enchanted April 2024.

Debbie Lock

Debbie Lock Debbie has been with FDS since 1987 and has appeared in, and directed, a variety of productions. She was last on stage in Our Country’s Good (2019), and was Sir Veillance in the award-winning panto Arthur's Adventure (2017). Before that you may have spotted her "mirror image" in the 2016 panto Happily Ever After. Another of Debbie's talents is choreography and when she has not been directing a panto has often been responsible for the dance moves.

Most recent appearance: Mrs Graves in Enchanted April 2024.

Richard Lock

Richard Lock Richard has been involved with FDS since 1987 and is most often found playing in our panto band, or working backstage, although his misspent youth included many stage appearances. He took on the role of grumpy Frank in Side Effects (2016 - for which he won a NODA 'best actor in a play' award). Earlier he was in Wife After Death (2013) and Present Laughter (2012). My Friend Miss Flint was his first go at directing, in 2017. In our last play Our Country’s Good (2019) he took the lead role of Ralph Clark.

Most recent appearance: Jim / Barry in Ladies’ Day 2021.

Millie Long

Millie Long Millie has been taking part in FDS pantomimes since The Snow Queen 2015 and was Laurie Lee’s sister Phyll in Cider with Rosie 2017. Her first lead role was as Alice Fitzwarren in Dick Whittington 2018. She has also been involved in the Shakespeare Schools Festival with a performance of Macbeth in Swindon's Wyvern Theatre.

Most recent appearance: Genie of the Ring in Aladdin 2020.

Alan Merrick

Alan Merrick Alan joined FDS in 2006 and has been a valuable member of the production crew ever since. He has helped build many of our sets and has been the one largely responsible for any smoke and explosions that have occurred on stage. He is usually to be found lurking backstage behind the curtain at every performance.

Fiona Merrick

Fiona Merrick Fiona’s first foray into all things dramatic was a Dad’s Army sketch in the 2005 Faringdon Arts Festival. Rather curiously Fiona seems to have been attracted to the letter C, having appeared in Candleford 2008, Cold Comfort Farm 2010, Cinderella 2012 and Cider with Rosie 2017. Now she has moved on to the letter D!

Most recent appearance: Salty in Dick Whittington 2018.

Jack Metcalf

Jack Metcalf Jack is 19 and his breakout role had him take on the mantle of Dick Whittington in the 2018 panto of the same name. He's appeared in other FDS productions Faringdon Follies at Buscot Park Theatre (2018) and as a minstrel in the 2019 panto Wishing On A Star as well as performing in musicals such as Crazy For You (2018) and Guys and Dolls (2019) with AmEgos Theatre. Jack continues to pursue voice acting as a professional career.

Most recent appearance: (Fred / Patrick in Ladies’ Day 2021.

Alison Morris

Alison Morris Alison lives in Witney and made her debut with FDS as Laurie Lee’s sister Marge in Cider with Rosie 2017. For ten years Alison has been a member of two choirs, taking roles in sketches and musicals performed in the summer with Witney Inter-Church Singers. She previously played Ratty in the St Mary's Church production of Wind in the Willows. Wishing on a Star 2019 (as Prince Odo) was her first go at pantomime, and she thoroughly enjoyed it. More recently Alison was a cocktail waitress in Shakers, staged for Follyfest 2019.

Most recent appearance: Fumble in Aladdin 2020.

Mary Mountford-Lister

Mary Mountford-Lister [FDS member 2000-2017]: Mary liked to take on small parts in many of our pantomimes but was more often to be found helping out with publicity, set construction, and front of house. She would also be the make-up coordinator, for all the scores of children and adults taking part in our pantomimes.

Paul Mountford-Lister

Paul Mountford-Lister [FDS member 1999-2018]: Paul trod the boards only very occasionally, as one of the soldiers in Oh What A Lovely War 1999 and as Pat in Hell and High Water 2000. He also had a go at being Assistant Director for Snow White 2005. Paul's main claim to fame is in set construction and he can usually be found on the sound and lighting desk at almost every performance or somewhere front of house. Photography is also his thing and he has provided many of the photos for our archives.

Byron Pound

Byron Pound Byron started performing at the age of 11, and has been lucky enough to have a speaking part in two of the previous pantos, as Rat in Dick Whittington (2018), as Malarkey in Wishing on A Star (2019), as a Fairy in Sleeping Beauty (2023), ans as Ted the policeman in Act Naturally (2023). Byron was recently involved in The Sound of Music at the Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham. He is currently studying Performing Arts at Stagedoor Learning in Cheltenham.

Most recent appearance: Gatekeeper in The Ruby Slippers 2024.

Andy Pritchard

Andy Pritchard Andy was a memorable Bottom in Midsummer Night’s Dream 2013. He was then co-opted to play Harvey in Wife after Death 2013 for which he received the NODA award of "Best Male Performance" and was also convincing as the poet Siegfried Sassoon in Reflections in 2014. For many years he has been a leading player with the Cotswold Arcadians and Meysey Players. Andy is also a member of the Act IV Theatre, where he took the title role in Raffles – One Heart and Mind, and a founder member of the Lechlade Mummers as well as having done commercial and TV work.

Most recent appearance: a part in Nighthawks 2015.

Emma Riddle

Emma Riddle Emma studied performing arts at college and was an active member of the RMCS musical theatre group, appearing in shows such as Half a Sixpence, White Horse Inn and Oklahoma. Having taken a break to start her family she has returned to her love of theatre and has joined FDS in Cinderella 2012, Best of British 2012, Jack and the Beanstalk 2013, A Midsummer Night's Dream 2013, The Scarlet Pumpernickel 2014, and The Snow Queen 2015.

Most recent appearance: Mother in Happily Ever After…? 2016.

Austen Roberts

Austen Roberts With a degree in Drama and Theatre Studies, Austen brings a depth of knowledge and experience to the group. He founded a drama school for 5 to 17 year olds, appeared in The Bill on TV, and worked in both professional and amateur theatre in London and Derby. FDS productions he has appeared in starting with The Importance of Being Earnest 2007 have included Peter Panto 2008, Candleford 2008, Cold Comfort Farm 2010 and Present Laughter 2012, A Midsummer Night's Dream 2013, Reflections 2014.

Most recent appearance: Flute in A Midsummer Night’s Dream 2013.

Verity Roberts

Verity Roberts We’ve seen Verity in The Importance of Being Earnest (2007 - her first), as Flora Poste in Cold Comfort Farm, The Odd Couple, Ladies Day and (last year) Confusions at Buscot Park Theatre. She was Hermia in 2013’s outdoor production of Midsummer Night’s Dream and has had significant parts in most of our pantos. Verity was co-author (with Helen Thrower, below) of three successful pantos and her most recent appearances have been as Snitch in Dick Whittington (2018), Widow Twankey in Aladdin (2020) and Queen Dorothy in Sleeping Beauty (2023).

Most recent appearance: Blunda in The Ruby Slippers 2024.

Shela Rowan

Shela Rowan Shela has been a member of FDS since 2011. Yet to be seen treading the boards, Shela helps with publicity and front of house, and is usually found serving behind the bar at most of our performances.

Duncan Sinclair

Duncan Sinclair First taking on the role of Back-stage Co-ordinator in Pirates of the Faribbean 2007. You may remember him as ugly sister Hernia in Cinderella 2012, the Ogre in Jack and the Beanstalk 2013, Gaston Legroom in the Scarlet Pumpernickel 2014 or Dame Trott in Happily Ever After 2016. In Dick Whittington 2018 he was incompetent seaman Captain Cockleshell. Wishing on a Star 2019 was Duncan's sixth appearance in front of the curtain in a Faringdon panto. He has taken various roles in Wantage and Cirencester over the years. When not on stage he has been pianist and musical director for our last two pantos.

Most recent appearance: Mellersh in Enchanted April 2024.

Jeni Summerfield

Jeni Summerfield Jeni has been with FDS since 1991 and she has appeared in many productions including The Crucible 2001, Dancing at Lughnasa 2004, and numerous pantos. In Happily Ever After 2016 she completed the set of Queen, Fairy and Witch, not to mention a nasty stepmother – Hysteria in Cinderella 2013, and Maisie in Agatha Crusty and the Village Hall Murders 2016. Jeni has also directed some one act plays but most of the time is to be found feverishly designing and sewing costumes.

Most recent appearance: various parts in Faringdon Follies 2018.

Carole Tappenden

Carole Tappenden Carole has been with FDS for many years since first appearing as Blanche in The Sleeping Beauty 1987. She went on to perform in and directed countless plays but her major appearances on stage were as the stern but kindly headmistress, Miss Gibson, in Daisy Pulls it Off back in 2001, the Fairy in Dick Whittington 2011, and Granny Wallon in Cider With Rosie 2017. She has played small parts in many of our pantos but most of her work for the society has been literally behind the scenes, designing, constructing and painting sets for many recent productions, and helping front of house.

Most recent appearance: one of the Minstrels in Wishing on a Star 2019.

Helen Tate

Helen Tate Nell has been a member of FDS since 2013, both on stage in our pantomimes and behind scenes in the costume team. As a child, she danced in panto at the Wyvern Theatre and in Nutcracker with Northern Ballet at Bath Theatre Royal. She’s looking forward to sharing the stage with her real daughter, Willow.

Most recent appearance: Mrs Adams in Be My Baby 2023.

Alan Taylor

Alan Taylor Alan's first appearance on an FDS stage was as Johnny Badger in The Murder of Maria Marten 1986 and he has since performed in far too many plays to mention and been back stage for most of the rest. He has also been involved with the outdoor Shakespeare productions of the Cotswold Arcadians. Since appearing more recently as Mr Guinness in Reflections 2014 and as the squire in Cider With Rosie 2017, he tends to take on more marginal roles and is more likely now to be found serving behind the bar during the intervals.

Most recent appearance: Governor Arthur Phillip in Our Country’s Good 2019.

Carolyn Taylor

Carolyn Taylor Carolyn joined FDS in 1986 and has been Chair of the Society three times. She has directed and appeared in many productions for FDS and other companies, including a number of open air Shakespeare productions, most recently Macbeth and Midsummer Night’s Dream at Oxford Castle and The Dell, Stratford upon Avon in 2016. Other highlights include playing Aunt Ada Doom in Cold Comfort Farm 2010 and Madame Ranevskaya in The Cherry Orchard 2006. To her list of talents she can add that of playwright, being the author of the pantomime Beauty and the Beast in 2009 and Reflections in 2014. Recently she has appeared as Scaringas, the dragon in our pantomime Wishing on a Star 2019.

Most recent appearance: Matron in Be My Baby 2023.

John Taylor

John Taylor [FDS member 2000-2010]: Performing as Gustave in Heroes 2010, John celebrated sixty years of treading the boards. During National Service in 1950's Malaya he directed a production of Quiet Week-End (shades of It Ain’t Arf ‘Ot, Mum). In 1964 he won the award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Mick in Pinter’s The Caretaker. Since moving to Faringdon in 1998, John hugely enjoyed a decade of acting in, producing or directing nearly a score of FDS productions as well as managing Front of House, and chairing our committee for some years. Sadly, John died very suddenly two weeks after his excellent performance in Heroes.

Helen Thrower

Helen Thrower Helen joined FDS in 2012 and has been in several plays since. She has plenty of experience in drama, both at the Pegasus Theatre, the Unicorn in Abingdon, and in schools. She has directed and co-written three of our pantos, The Scarlet Pumpernickel, Happily Ever After, and Wishing on a Star (2019). You may have seen her most recently as Black Berry, the pirate in Dick Whittington (2018) and as Duckling in Our Country’s Good in 2019.

Most recent appearance: Shelley in Ladies’ Day 2021.

Leo Thrower

Leo Thrower Leo started with FDS at the age of nine with his first Panto Cinderella in 2012, and has been involved in many more over the years as well as other productions such as Reflections 2014. He produced an outstanding star performance as the teenager Laurie himself in Cider With Rosie 2017. Leo has attended Stagecoach Performing Arts for the last six years, studying music, dance and drama as well as attending ballet classes. He has also been involved in school productions like Beauty and the Beast and Joseph.

Most recent appearance: one of the pirates in Dick Whittington 2018.

Abby Valentine (née Benson)

Abby Valentine (née Benson) Abby has appeared in countless pantomimes with FDS; starting at a very young age with Pirates of the Faribbean 2007, followed by Peter Panto 2008, Beauty and The Beast 2009, Aladdin 2010, Dick Whittington 2011 (the title role) and Cinderella 2012, then as the Handsome Prince in Happily Ever After 2016. She was also in the Community College production of Boogie Nights. Following two years away as a family entertainer in hotels she came back to co-star as Kristian in Wishing on a Star 2019. Oh, and Abby was also a cocktail waitress in Shakers 2019.

Most recent appearance: Orlando in The Sleeping Beauty 2023.

Sarah Varnom

Sarah Varnom Sarah joined FDS in 1996 and first appeared as Carrabosse the Witch in The Sleeping Beauty 1997. With Wishing on a Star she is making another rare appearance in panto. She won accolades for her role as Laurie Lee’s mother in Cider with Rosie 2017, but she has enjoyed all manner of roles from Wicked Witch to Lady Bracknell. She directed The Pied Piper 1998 and also Heroes 2010, which was performed as part of a dinner/theatre experience and was a huge success, winning the NODA Flame Award that year.

Most recent appearance: Dame Ariel Bucket in Wishing on a Star 2019.

Debra Warner

Debra Warner Debra joined FDS way back in 1989. She is a teacher of piano and woodwind at schools in the local area and provides services for grade examinations and auditions. Debra has been our Musical Director and plays the piano, clarinet, and saxophone (not all at the same time) for most of our pantomimes and other musical performances.

Matthew Warner

Matthew Warner As well as appearing in almost every FDS pantomime since Beauty and the Beast in 2009, Matthew has taken part in school productions such as Boogie Nights and Annie (as newsman Bert Healy) and is a member of Musical Youth UK where his most recent role was in Les Miserables. He has also appeared at Theatre Royal, Drury Lane and in April 2014 joined the company in Miss Saigon. Matthew did a brilliant job as Assistant Director in our last pantomime - Aladdin in 2020.

Most recent appearance: Prince Sigurd in Wishing on a Star 2019.

Martin Waymark

Martin Waymark Martin's stage debut came relatively recently, after five years in the orchestra pit at the FDS panto, in My Friend Miss Flint at Buscot Park in 2017. Since then he's been making up for lost time with roles in So Long Leonard 2017 and as Sir Bedevere in the AmEgos 2017 production of Spamalot. He appeared as a rakish Salvador Dali in Faringdon Follies 2018, so it didn't take long (or much persuasion) to get him back as the only male cast member Gordon (playing Inspector O’Reilly) in Farndale Avenue Murder Mystery 2018. As well as usually performing in the band, Martin took on the role as Musical Director in our last two pantomimes.

Most recent appearance: Robert Sideway and Captain Watkin Tench in Our Country’s Good 2019.

Jonathan Waywell

Jonathan Waywell Fresh off the back of running the set building team for Act Naturally in November, Jonny’s debut performance for FDS was as the Tin Man in The Ruby Slippers (2024). Jonny is no stranger to performing for a crowd, with pro-wrestler, DJ, rapper and musician all part of his stage CV. Jonny says, "I've loved being involved with this production and pleased to have taken on this very different role in Enchanted April!”

Most recent appearance: Wilding in Enchanted April 2024.

Lu Waywell (née Hodgson)

Lu Waywell (née Hodgson) Lu’s first appearance in an FDS production was as a rabbit in Wind and the Willows (2003) and after moving back to Faringdon in 2021, she rejoined in time for their first post-pandemic production as Milly Carter in Confusions (2021). This was followed by Sleeping Beauty (2023), as (male) Billy, the silly singing butler. As well as appearing in Be My Baby (2023), Lu also chose and directed her first FDS play, the hilarious Act Naturally (2023) and thoroughly enjoyed being the Wicked Witch of the West in this year’s panto The Ruby Slippers (2024).

Most recent appearance: Lady Caroline in Enchanted April 2024.

Jo Webster

Jo Webster [FDS member 1988-2023]: A member of FDS since 1988, Jo's director credits also include Arsenic and Old Lace 2004 and Cold Comfort Farm 2010, but we have seen her on stage in in productions ranging from Steel Magnolias 2014 and Stepping Out 1991 to Wind in the Willows 1991 and 2003 and Faringdon Follies 2018. She has also had some lovely character parts in panto: she stole the show as the hen that laid the golden eggs in Jack and the Beanstalk 2013. Despite all this her particular forte is visible to all: Jo has been the set designer for more than sixty (yes, that's 60) FDS productions. In 2018 she also directed The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Murder Mystery.

Most recent appearance: various parts in Faringdon Follies 2018.

Peter Webster

Peter Webster [FDS member 1988-2023]: Although he is seen on stage from time to time since he joined FDS in 1988, Peter is more likely to be found with a paintbrush or screwdriver behind the scenes. Or with a pen - he is a prolific author of pantomimes, including The Snow Queen 2015 and Jack and the Beanstalk 2013 which he directed. His last stage appearances were as the Baron in Cinderella 2012, which he also wrote, and as Mr McGregor in Reflections 2014.

Most recent appearance: various parts in Faringdon Follies 2018.

Adrian Wells

Adrian Wells Adrian has been a part of FDS since 1995. He has been in award winning productions including The Crucible 2001, and has enjoyed a variety of roles in plays by Shakespeare, Chekhov, Wilde and Ayckbourn. He usually seems to play a “baddie” in pantomime so playing Alderman Fitzwarren in Dick Whittington 2018 made a welcome change. Adrian has also designed most of our publicity posters and programme covers.

Most recent appearance: Genie of the Lamp in Aladdin 2020.

Miriam Wells

Miriam Wells “I started performing in FDS pantomimes at the age of nine and performed in various productions including roles as Anna in Dreamers and Wendy in Peter Panto back in 2008. Whilst living in Plymouth, I was part of the Southwest Philharmonia and Chorus and performed both classical and musical scores including a 'Last night of the Proms' evening. Having recently returned to Faringdon I am delighted to rejoin the society and take on this exciting role!”

Most recent appearance: Aladdin in Aladdin 2020.

Karen Whiffen

Karen Whiffen [FDS member 1997-2011]: Karen performed in many plays and directed several pantomimes for FDS starting with her first small part in The Sleeping Beauty 1997, including the award-winning Snow White in 2005. The Cherry Orchard 2006 was her first attempt at classic drama. She was also our secretary for many years. Dick Whittington 2011, which she directed was unfortunately her last with the Society, as she moved with her family to Lancashire in the summer. However, she has still popped up in our audience on many occasions since.

Simon Wisbey

Simon Wisbey [FDS member 1994-2013]: Simon took part in many productions, including Blood Brothers 1997, The Crucible 2001, Much Ado About Nothing 2003, Educating Rita 2005 and Noises Off 2006. He played the pompous cricket captain Roger in Outside Edge which FDS took to Canada in 2008. His final performance before moving away to pastures new was as Theseus in A Midsummer Night's Dream 2013. However, it is his role as the Pantomime dame in Snow White 2005 that continues to be remarked upon by many as was his propensity to reveal his knees while on stage.

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