Bad Day at Black Frog Creak - performed November 1981

By John Gardiner and Fiz Coleman
Music by Andrew Parr

Performed with the kind permission of Samuel French

Director - Dennis Murfitt
Musical Director - Patience Ling


(in order of appearance)

Diamond Tooth Lil. Alison Pollard
Big Brad Duncan Steele
Angel Delight Heather Steele
Yipee Brown Guy Pollard
Old Ma Treacle Jenny Rose
No Nose Muldoon Philip Bruce
Dumbo Dawson Trevor De'Ath
Hairy Hannah Charlotte Parsons
Filthy Frank Chisholm Jason Ball
Black Frog Citizens Tracey Ball
David Bowers
Alison Brett
Teresa Frost
Deana Hargreave
Zelda Hargreave
Polly Hubbard
Jonathan Taylor

Production Team

Peter Westbrook, Jenny Rollings, Bill Kempster, Bruce Emeny, Maurice Barber, Kevin Brown, June Wendon, Gill Baxter, Dennis Murfitt, Derek Cobbold, Geoffrey Taylor, Viv Wheatley, Jack Hacon, Ian and Ann Tucker, Ken Smith, Keith Pollard, and other volunteers not mentioned.

Awards & Nominations

The Play

One Christmas Eve, the Muldoon Mob arrive in Black Frog Creek, bent on retrieving the diamond which saloon-keeper Lil has had cemented into one of her teeth. They get the diamond, only to be foiled yet again by Filthy Frank.


”BILL”, said the editor, “get down to Manningtree tonight and review Bad Day at Black Frog Creek, a play the Young Manifest Theatre Group is putting on.”
I wrinkled my nose and asked suspiciously: “What kind of play is it?” The answer: “A Musical Western.”
That confirmed my worst fears. A lot of kids jumping round in cowboy and Indian outfits whooping and trying to put over a cross between John Wayne and Julie Andrews, Clint Eastwood and Barry Manilow.

But my editor, being my editor, I went – and I was in for a pleasant shock. The 17 children of the group, staging their first production, Gave Bad Day at Black Frog Creek a Bugsy Malone quality that will win any heart. Producer-director Dennis Murfitt has bravely taken the play, written for adults to perform to children, and given it to children to perform for adults. And it works. “I thought it would be a novel switch,” said Mr Murfitt. It is – instead of an audience of giggling children, you get an audience of giggling adults, all of them in stitches at playground jokes , they forgot years ago.
The children try hard to act as they think adults would. That is why the play comes over so well.

The nine stars – Alison and Guy Pollard, Duncan and Heather Steele, Jenny Rose, Philip Bruce, Trevor De’Ath, Charlotte Parsons and Jason Ball – take the parts of Stereo-typed spaghetti Western Characters and given them a childish innocence. Diminutive Duncan as Sheriff Big Brad looks as it he’s come right out of an &rlquo;adults are stealing our Rice Krispies” commercial. The stars, together with the other Black Frog citizens – Tracy Ball, David Bowers, Alison Brett, Teresa Frost, Deana and Zelda Hargreave, Polly Hubbard and Jonathon Taylor – sing and dance with the zest only children can.
Mr. Murfitt decided to give the children a chance after they were in the chorus of Manifest’s Oliver. They have lived up to the challenge, with a childishly fantastic alternative to the sex and violence of the TV set. The play is on tonight and tomorrow at Manningtree’s Old Legion Hall.
William Bramhill

Photo Shoot