Park Opera South Hill Park

Park Opera is lucky to have a dedicated team of backstage members, who work together to ensure that our productions achieve the highest standards of technical support.


Our sets were once constructed by members of Park Opera, including Keith Ward, Bob Moore, Tony Bentley, John Marshall, Tony Welsh, Mark and Sue Mainwaring, and our Stage Manager Alex Dickson. Sadly over the last few years access to our construction facilities has been withdrawn. Each set is now devised and constructed on an ad-hoc basis, sometimes with assisance from the Technical Crew at South Hill Park.

The sets are painted in advance, but need to be finished in- situ. A team of enthusiastic and mainly amateur painters include regular contributions from Sallie Ward, Sue and Claude Lawrence, Sara Bowring, Sian Pearson and Irene Dowdall. Clifford King and Shelia Richards have painted much of the detail.

New members of our backstage team are warmly welcomed; please contact Keith Ward on 01753 854093 or by email


Many of our productions are enhanced by movement and dancing. We have been fortunate to work with The Susan Handy School of Dancing whose Principal, Susan Handy, has choreographed several of our productions, notably Hansel and Gretel , for which Susan Handy produced a ballet of fourteen angels for 15 minutes, and was one of the highlights of the performance.

Members of our chorus enjoy the challenge of performing sometimes quite complicated dances, and this was the case in Eugene Onégin in 2000, when Dawn Thompson directed a lively Russian peasant dance and a stately minuet which were described in a review as "lively and wittily managed" and "particularly inspired."

Recently, our dancing has been choreographed by Lucy Dickson. Once a pupil of Susan Handy, Lucy has been singing and dancing in our productions since she was five in 1987. Lucy has been responsible for the choreography of A Masked Ball (in which the ball scene was described as "memorable and beautifully choreographed"), The Queen of Spades in 2003 ("The choreography in this performance was simply astonishing, perhaps most impressively in the lovely masque, with its classic shepherds and shepherdesses"), La Traviata ("We also enjoyed the gypsy dancers, they too were clearly both trained and experienced dancers who brought a light hearted touch to the opera: congratulations to Lucy Dickson who both danced and choreographed") and the movement in Turandot which included a spectacular ribbon dance.

If you are interested in dancing in our productions, please contact Lucy Dickson on


Each production requires a huge variety of furniture and hand props, ranging from desks and thrones to daggers and candelabra. Some of our props are hired, many more are begged, borrowed and hunted for in charity shops and antique markets by Vanessa Pleace, who is an expert at finding just the right object to satisfy the demands of the Producer.


Many costumes are hired, but for some shows it is necessary to make certain items. For example, for Faust our costume department made thirty angel robes; for Aida the lady principals' and the dancers' costumes were all made, and in Queen of Spades in 2003 all the Russian peasant costumes, including the headdresses were provided by our Wardrobe team who work tirelessly to make these beautiful contributions, but would welcome any one who has an interest in costumes. Please contact our Secretary.


This often underrated, and vitally important aspect of production, is in the capable hands of Michael Brenkley, who works in co-operation with the set builders to set-up a complete lighting rig in one day — on the Sunday before the production.


Elaine Hawkes has been responsible for make-up for many years. She specialises in character and historical make-ups; she is ably supported by Sara Bowring, Rowena Welsh and Susan Moore.

Posters & website

Park Opera's posters and programme covers are designed by Tom Ward – he can be contacted by emailing Our website is maintained by Keith Ward.

The Queen of Spades — early days in the workshop

The Queen of Spades — erecting the set

The Magic Flute — in pieces on the floor …

The Magic Flute — one going up …

The Magic Flute — two up…

The Magic Flute — all up