British nostalgia at its best


Years were rolled back at the Milligan Theatre in Love Lane, last Friday, September 15 when an enthusiastic audience were entertained with an evening of “The Proms and More”, packed with traditional and patriotic music.

Rye Bay Crew – from left Jonathan Breeds, Rebekah Gilbert and Andi Rivett

It was my first time to hear the mighty Wurlitzer and it sounded quite wonderful in terms of how many different sounds Michael Wooldridge was able to bring forth from this beautiful instrument, sometimes noisy other times gentle but very melodic and once it had a repeated theme sounding like a glockenspiel.

The proms nibbles, no alcohol

It was a varied evening with a sing-a-long (for which song sheets were provided), including sea songs, Rule Britannia, Land of Hope and Glory and Jerusalem. It was a game audience waving their little flags, handed out at the beginning, and loving the sense of humour with which the compere Richard Moore moved the evening swiftly along. There was no alcohol but true to tradition, tea and cakes were provided.

Throughout the evening the versatile Rye Bay Crew, now a very established performance trio (set up in 2014), delighted the audience, as ever, with Jonathan Breeds, our mayor, being the toreador in the opera Carmen and his deep voice was very fitting. Rebekah Gilbert  (soprano) was the persuasive, flirty Carmen when singing L’Amour. It was one of the best renderings I have heard with her soaring, wonderful voice. “If I were a rich man” from the musical Fiddler on the Roof was the perfect song for fun loving Andi Rivett.

In the audience were many of the St Mary’s knitting group and Sandra Lanigan introduced me to several special guests, here for the Rye Arts Festival, but who had joined them for the evening.

Richard presents his home-made jam to our American visitor Mary Cooper

One was Mary Cooper who has been coming to the Rye Arts Festival since 1968 from Washington DC and was singled out by the compere Richard Moore, to take back to the US some English home made jam . The other person was Joyce Dyce whose late husband was the Rye mayor in 2004.

We were told that the Wurlitzer events  are held to raise money (this evening raised £650) for teaching students to play the organ and at the moment they have 17. Some even enter competitions. One of them played for us which was very enjoyable. 90 students have been taught so far. The Wurlitzer Academy is a registered charity and relies solely on sponsorship and funding. For future events and sponsorship go to their website




Photos: Heidi Foster and Richard Moore

Image Credits: Rye Wurlitzer Academy .

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  1. Big thanks to Mary from St Mary’s Knitting Group for bringing us 30+ blanket squares and four children’s’ sweaters that she had made for our Appeal. Great to have you with us again…look forward to next year when you come back!

  2. It was a great evening, tea & cakes, flag-waving , singing Jerusalem & Land of Hope & Glory – who needs the Royal Albert Hall when there’s a Wurlitzer on the doorstep?
    Looking forward to the next entertaining evening – Supper with the Shadows (& Wurlitzer) on Friday 13th October!


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