The theatre would like to wish a happy retirement to long-standing tech crew stalwart Nick Sanderson. Nick has been part of the very fabric of the theatre for many a year and will be missed greatly.

Nick comes from a family steeped in theatre. Mum Greta joined Darlington Operatic Society (DOS) in 1948 for 'Goodnight Vienna', she was a dancer with a close association with local ballet legend Joy Beadell and later taught at Joy’s ballet school in Grange Road. Frank Murray, one of her two brothers, became DOS musical director. Nick's brother Steve was Senior Technician at the Civic, now Darlington Hippodrome, and they worked alongside each other for many years until Steve retired himself in 2018.

Nick’s first appearance on stage was as a performer was in one of Joy Beadell's dancing displays – he didn’t appear again on stage until required to do so for an RSC production in 1993 where all stage crew were required to be in costume.

His first show actively helping out backstage was 'Gigi', a DOS production, in 1978. Nick had the vital role of crew runner - crossing the road to the Greyhound pub to collect the stage crew for the next scene change, pints were left behind the bar for their return (it was a different era!).

Nick learned his trade from the stage upwards, starting as tab man with Trevor Mann operating the running tabs for DOS shows, then changing scenery, and finally helping in the flies. From there he watched the ‘Red Barrows’ stage crew complete scene changes and build sets and scenery.

The crew were well known for playing practical jokes on the cast as long as it didn’t interfere with the production, putting the odd stage weight in a suitcase or writing messages on bits of set that couldn’t be seen by the audience. In one production for DOS of 'Sweet Charity', Arthur Ellis was due to drag a rolled up carpet on stage – the crew rolled it up ready in the wings with Nick inside!

One production of 'Salad Days' required a truck to be pushed on stage in dry ice, carrying three cast members – Nick being agile stayed behind the truck to prevent it rolling off the front edge into the pit, he learned to say one of the words from the script which became his saying: "Penuroscopotelecineramarefractavistavisionset!".

Nick worked as a casual for many years on panto, once as Board Operator as he had a leg in plaster. Then later as a full-time member of staff, becoming Head Flyman – Swift Nick as he was known when working with hemp. Flying cloths would come in under control very rapidly and surprise some of the cast members!

Nick was one of the aces for the crew darts team – a vital weapon in any crew vs cast tournaments.

We now wish Nick a very long happy retirement. We won't be seeing the last of him though as we're sure he'll continue to be a regular face at the theatre, just now he'll be looking at the stage from the auditorium instead of from above!