Adjudicators for the 2023 – 2024 season.
Andrew Wild Andrew Wild is a playwright, author and director based in Macclesfield.
His experience in amateur theatre began in 1991, as stage manager and technical designer for a number of local groups. His play The Difficult Crossing debuted in 2000 and was revived in 2011, Andy’s first production as director. Since then Andy has directed a number of shorter, studio productions, preferring the immediacy and intimacy of smaller performing spaces. He started adjudicating in 2015, initially for Cheshire Theatre Guild, for whom he still works from time to time.
As a writer, Andy has published nineteen books so far, with three more due in 2024. His latest play, A Difficult Man, won Carver Theatre’s 2021 playwriting competition. The subsequent production, which Andy also directed, won best original play at the GMDF 2022 One Act Play Festival.
If pressed Andy will concede that the best theatre production he’s ever seen was Dr. Dee by Rufus Norris and Damon Albarn at the Manchester International Festival in 2011, closely followed by Maxine Peake as Hamlet at the Royal Exchange in 2014.
Andy aims to bring a firm-but-fair style of adjudications to GMDF.
Bill Platt has been in or directed over 300 productions in his amateur career. He is currently the President of Northenden Players, a society he has been a member of for more than 45 years and is also a member of Altrincham Garrick Playhouse. Bill’s theatrical preference has always been comedy and farce but he is equally at home with more serious subjects. A great supporter of amateur theatre throughout Greater Manchester, Bill also presents a radio show every Saturday on Wythenshawe FM community radio entitled That’s Entertainment which lists all the forthcoming productions both amateur and professional in the area. A regular visitor to other societies, Bill is very much looking forward to the season ahead and to seeing the talent we have in the northwest, and what all the GMDF member societies have to offer.
Gerard Lennox Gerard produced, directed, stage managed and ran the lighting for his first play aged 15 in the newly built main hall that had state of the art lighting using several large resistor based faders that you used a bit of broom handle to move more than one at a time.
Since then he has worked on more productions than he can remember on the technical side of back stage, a director and very occasional actor. Of himself he says he is not a good actor as he always plays himself but more importantly Gerard helps bring out the best from real actors and loves to help them find the motivation and back story that allows them to inhabit and give life to their character.
Gerard has a strong background in the technical side of theatre including staging, lighting and sound but as he says that in every show he sees he learns another technique or sees an idea that can be used elsewhere.
The standard of productions within the GMDF family gets higher and higher each year which serves to make the adjudications even more interesting this season.
Michael Lawlor It was 1974. On a winter’s eve a young boy of 10 was dropped off at Lydgate Church Music & Drama Society’s first get together for the yearly Pantomime. This was the first time the young boy had experienced any form of theatre and it was an experience that would change his life forever.
That young boy is now 58 years old and his name is Michael Lawlor.
Michael has performed in pantomime every year since (with the obvious recent exception), moving from chorus speaking parts to one half of the panto double act. Panto Villain (Baron or Squire), and eventually settling in the role of Dame, a role he has now played for 38 years – and at times playing in 2 pantomimes on the trot, December and January.
Adding to his experience, Michael has also directed over 30 pantomimes.
In recent years Michael has written his own Pantomimes and now has a small portfolio. (Oooerr).
Pantomime is not the only string to Michael’s bow. Not long after discovering his joy of theatre, he was placed in the chorus of a G & S operetta (Baritone) and that was it. Michael has not been off the stage since. He has performed in Plays, Musicals, Reviews, etc, across the North West Amateur Circuit both acting and directing. He also found a great deal of satisfaction on the technical side and has spent many an hour rigging, focussing, plotting and operating the lighting for a range of societies.
Michael’s most recent achievement is writing a one hour twenty-minute Pantomime for 6 people titled “Once Upon a Jack and Jill” which, along with Ruby Slippers Drama Academy, he took on a tour of local schools for the Theatre in Education program. At the end of the tour Michael extended the original script to include full chorus participation and added 4 new characters for a short but hugely successful run in Tameside.
Seb Lassandro – is an English teacher, author and keen AmDrammer and is delighted to be joining GMDF’s team this year in adjudicating the musicals category.
After attending Oldham Theatre Workshop as a youngster, Seb entered the Greater Manchester amateur dramatic circle in 2008 at the age of 16 with Ashton Operatic Society’s production of 42nd Street. Over the last fifteen years, he has performed with many local groups in plays, pantomimes, musicals and reviews, including: Hyde Little Theatre; Guide Bridge Theatre; DWADS; Dukinfield Operatic Society; Stockport Operatic Society; North Manchester Amateur Operatic Society; New Rosemere (Bolton) and the Carver Theatre to name but a few.
In his time treading the boards, Seb has made his way from chorus through to principal roles and his expertise and enthusiasm for all things theatrical has seen him in recent years in demand to sit in the director’s seat for a number of different societies. He is also working his way through the Gilbert and Sullivan ‘Grossmith’ patter-roles, with a personal ambition to complete all 13 operas.
Seb has a particular personal interest in the glory days of musicals, Music Hall and Variety and is a recognised expert, archivist and biographer of the lives and works of Sir Tommy Steele and Dame Gracie Fields. He has an encyclopaedic knowledge beyond his years of musicals and a passion for all aspects of musical theatre, whether professional or amateur. “It’s too difficult to pick a favourite show!” says he, but the musicals of Andrew Lloyd Webber hold a very special place in his affections and the score of ‘Chess’ is up there at the top of his favourites pile.
He is excited to be getting out on the road – in his Mini formerly belonging to Tommy Steele! – and seeing the wonderful musical productions on offer this season by our GMDF members.
Martin Paul Roche first began singing and acting in secondary school in the north of England in Manchester.
Following his vocal training he performed with many companies – musical, choral and opera – predominantly in the North of England, but also in other parts of the UK and Ireland as a soloist in concert and recital performances.
He has won a number of awards for his lead performances in stage productions spanning operetta to modern musicals and sung as a principal soloist in a wide and varying range of sacred/oratorio works.
Despite his background, Martin rarely performs now and focuses instead on writing, directing and adjudicating.
In June of 2001 he produced and directed his own first written work, a musical play entitled ‘To Be Frank’ which was very well received both critically and publicly.
In January of 2003 he wrote and produced the sell-out premiere performance of ‘The Gershwin’s – the Men and their Music’ at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, and subsequently reprised it at The Comedy Store, Manchester.
In 2009 he premiered and co-directed a new musical in Manchester, co-written with Ian Crabtree called ‘Witchfinder.’ This has now been published with Stagescripts Ltd and he produced the studio recording with the premiering company at Blueprint Studios in Manchester, with the cast CD being released later that year. The premiere won several regional awards including awards for Martin of ‘Best Director’ and ‘Best Book and Script.’
As well as having his works represented by them, Martin also acts as an Acquisitions Agent and Advocate for Stagescripts Ltd covering northern England. This entails identifying new theatre writers and works but also, giving advice about their extensive catalogue.
Martin is very proud to be President of the award-winning Children’s Amateur Theatre Society (CATS) in Bolton and a past member of the Board of Management of the Greater Manchester Drama Federation.
He continues as a Drama Festival Adjudicator having adjudicated many full length and One Act Play Festivals and readily admits to “… learning something new about theatre every time I watch a production.”
He still regularly reviews theatre and the arts and is passionate about promoting new works, new writers and the benefits they bring in growing theatre and engaging new audiences.
His plays are now published and contained within two volumes ‘The First Ten Plays’ and the ingeniously entitled, ‘The Next Ten Plays.’
In 2022, he successfully took his play ‘Gymnopédies’ to several local theatres with his company ‘New To You Theatre’ and in the autumn of 2023 will do the same with his two plays ‘Ancient and Modern’ and ‘Last bus to Whitby.’
Martin is very much looking forward to adjudicating the GMDF 2024 One Act Play Festival