‘The Show Goes On’ at The Command Theatre, Changi P.O.W. Camp (April 1943)

The Show Goes On
The Show Goes On

 The Show Must Go On 1943

The programme for this production staged in April 1943 is one of 50 which Des brought home with him, each one for a different show. With no means of reproduction, programmes were individually produced by a production line of artists, sign-writers and typists. We have no idea of knowing how many were produced for each show, nor the price – presumably they were traded for cigarettes, food or other commodities. The sheer number of entertainment events produced by the POWs is an indication of their high spirits and optimism, and of the many valuable skills and talents possessed by the men.

Theatre productions also provided welcomed relief  and something to look forward to for fellow POW’s, as they were able to, for a short time, be distracted from the cruel reality they found themselves in.

Sir  Edward ‘Weary’ Dunlop later stated: “At times, looking on the stage… with the dark blue of the huge audience giving rapt attention, I was taken right away to things normal and almost forgotten.”

Such productions brought hope and assisted many POW’s to survive the horrors of being a POW.

Note that Des Bettany, Willis Toogood & Wray Gibson are listed in the cast. Caricatures of them are on the changipowart website. Willis Toogood was a highly regarded female impersonator, and Wray Gibson a talented musician.