Last Sunday we held our Thanksgiving Service for the Performing Arts. This was once an annual event St Stephens and for many years saw it famous names attending the church.
Over the weekend an interesting article in the 1947 parish news came to light with re-prints of some news articles and I thought I’d share it with you.
Lancashire Daily Post
September 8th 1947
Church and Stage Share Responsibility
“In a moving reference to members of the theatrical profession who had been worshippers at the Church and who died during the year, Canon F B Freshwater, the Vicar, preaching at the 29th annual Church and Stage Service, at St Stephen’s on the Cliffs, Blackpool, yesterday, spoke of how the late Herman Darewski was the first to direct a dance band i a place of worship.
The Canon recalling that Mr Darewski’s band played at the church in 1927 and again two years later, said: ‘Every night during the season this band, under Darewski’s direction, played for dancing in the Winter Gardens Ballroom and every night they played, “Onward Christian Soldiers”.’
Speaking of the magnificent way in which stage folk had rallied to his church throughout the years, Canon Freshwater said the parson and the pro. had each a great responsibility.
The pro. had to keep up the spirit of the people by laughter and entertainment, and the parson had to maintain the spirit of courage and faith.
Members of the theatrical profession, he said, were doing a great service to the community in these difficult times when the people needed brightness and enjoyment.
The Church was crowded to the doors. The Musical Elliotts, from the Tower Circus, played the opening and closing voluntaries and accompanied the hymns.
Many stars were present and amongst those who acted as Sidesmen were Ralph Reader, Dave Morris, Nat Jackley, Roy Barbour, Frank Randle, Claud Zola, Billy Smith and Charlie Cairoli of the Cairoli Brothers.
Afterwards many of the artistes, who included chorus girls from various local theatres, visited the Actors’ Chape, which came into being through donations from members of the profession.”
18th September 1947
“A welcome and deserved tribute to the profession was paid by Canon F B Freshwater at the annual Service for the theatrical profession at S. Stephen’s on the Cliffs, Blackpoll the other Sunday. Having emphasised that both Church and the stage had great responsibilities: the parson having to maintain the spirit of courage and faith, and the pro. having to keep up the spirit of the people by laughter and entertainment, he said members of the theatrical profession were doing a great service to the community in these difficult times when the people needed brightness and enjoyment. With so many people inclined to class theatre-going among the ‘luxuries’ it is as well that such public acknowledgements of the part the pro. plays should be given publicity.”