Sudden death of Eastbourne theatres stalwart

Stella Blonde
Stella Blonde

Tributes have been paid to a leading light in Eastbourne’s amateur dramatic circle after her sudden death.

Stella Blonde, who also worked at the Dental Estimates Board, passed away on Wednesday June 22.

Her lifelong friend Val Quanstrom knew Stella from the age of 12 and they were life long friends.

She said, “We attended the Girls High School in Eldon Road and were both in the same class. She was very clever, always top of the class, while I lurked somewhere near the bottom. I can see her now with her two thick plaits of hair right down to her waist.

“I joined Eastbourne Operatic and Dramatic Society in 1951 and Stella became a member in 1953 and made an immediate impact.

“She had a wonderful talent for comedy and her first major role was as Alcolom in Chu Chin Chow which EODS presented as the first musical in the new Congress Theatre in 1964.

“She stopped the show in that production and went on doing much the same for the next 30years. Other memorable parts she played were the comedy role of Meg Brockie in Brigadoon and Golde in Fiddler On The Roof to mention but a few.

“Stella went on to produce countless shows for the company. In 1976 she produced Carousel and at the time the then Eastbourne Herald and Gazette editor Eric Redfern wrote that she was the most driven and talented director that EODS had had for years.

“I particularly remember our first production of Oklahoma in 1955 at the Devonshire Park Theatre which saw, at the dress rehearsal, the leading lady lose her voice.

“On the Monday morning Stella poured over the script, rehearsed the music and played the role that night word perfect. She received a standing ovation from the audience.

“Her mother, Ida, was also a valued member, and was its wardrobe mistress for 20 years.

“When her mother died she became rather lost without her.

“Stella had never married and her father had died when she was in her 20s.

“He was a lovely, jolly man which was obviously where Stella’s talent came from.“

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