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Gwen Peplow - A tribute to a much loved and long standing member of MLADS/Phoenix who sadly passed away in February 2011:-

It was with great sadness that the Phoenix Theatre Company received the news that Gwen Peplow passed away on February 2, earlier this year.

Gwen had a long and rich connection with this Drama Group over several decades. She joined it in the mid-1970s when it was then known as Moulsham Lodge Amateur Dramatic Society or 'MLADS.  The first play she acted in was "Man Alive" in 1976 and she was a stalwart of the group over the next few years. She always retained fond memories of plays she starred in from those days, such as "The Shop at Sly Corner" (1976), "When we are Married" (1978), Time to Kill" (1982) and "The Happiest Days of your Life" (1983).

By the end of the 1980s, she was acting in fewer plays but was still appearing in small cameo parts in "Twelfth Night" (2000), "The House of Bernarda Alba" (2003) and "The Ballad of Sweeney Todd" (2006) - an acting career spanning 40 years.

When she was not acting she still retained her enthusiasm for drama in a back stage capacity. She served on the Committee for several years in the 1990s, helped with Costumes and Hair for many productions and filled the vital role of Prompter on several occasions. In 1998 she directed "Fumed Oak" as part of the "Menace, Mirth and Melodrama" production.

In the fourth decade of her association with MLADS , (by then known as The Phoenix Theatre Company),  Gwen collaborated with Chris Wright as they co-directed the successful plays "Theft" (2004), "Let it be Me" (2005), "Trivial Pursuits" (2007) and "Kindly Leave the Stage" (2008).  Gwen showed in those directing adventures that she had a keen eye for what worked on stage and an admirable ability to get her views across without upsetting anyone.

In many ways, Gwen was a born actress. She often claimed that if you gave her a script to read on her own, she could never get the 'feel' of a play, but if you put her in a play reading situation with other people,  she  picked up superbly the rhythm and nuances in the lines even if she had not seen the script before.

Gwen will be long remembered by actors and audiences alike for her dedication to drama, her jolly and often mischievous humour and the warmth of her character.

Many drama groups have a larger-than-life character in their ranks. MLADS/Phoenix was fortunate to have Gwen Peplow.

         June  2011

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