Scott Joy, left, and Steve Jones, who starred in Oklahoma!
IN 1972, Don Mills, of St Lawrence, convinced a small group of local thespians they had the talent to stage a full production of his pantomime, Cinderella.
Forty years on, The Don Mills Variety Club is known by another name: Ventnor Theatre Group.
This year to celebrate the landmark anniversary, the group has several spectacular shows lined up, including There’s No Business Like Show Business, Little Women and, last weekend, Oklahoma!
In its early days, the group performed roadshows at venues all over the Island, helping all manner of clubs and charities with their fundraising projects as they went. But it soon found itself in such great demand it simply could not keep up.
The group returned to entertaining at their birthplace, St Lawrence Village Hall, until 1984, when the hunt was on to find a new, larger venue for their growing number of supporters.
Ventnor Winter Gardens became their new home and, until the end of 2010, the group was performing lavish musicals, plays and pantomimes several times a year.
But it has not all been smooth sailing for Ventnor Theatre Group because in January 2011 it was rendered homeless by the closing of the Winter Gardens.
Although devastated, the group stuck together and has been performing at other venues all over the Island, from St Lawrence to Freshwater, until such time as it can return to their Ventnor home.
As founding member Jill Fothergill said: "It was the end of the venue but not the group."
• For a review and pictures of last weekend's performance of Oklahoma at Shanklin Theatre, please see the Isle of Wight County Press, Friday, June 15.