Captain Derek brings ‘Edelweiss’ to the stage


In this regular feature Carol Tinkler turns the spotlight on Louth Playgoers.

DEREK Smith is playing the part of Captain von Trapp. This the second time Derek has performed in The Sound of Music, the first time as Rolf Gruber.

Between 1992 and 1999 Derek performed in 15 productions, ranging from pantomime, musicals, farce and drama.

Derek is originally from Teignmouth in Devon, but a journey across the Pond eventually brought him to Lincolnshire!

Being inspired by a touring professional company which visited his school, Derek’s acting debut started in youth theatre in Devon, where he was a member for ten years, each year performing in musicals. His favourite was Oliver, playing Fagin in 1994 at the age of 13.

After this he performed with adults as well, such as in the pantomime Jack in the Beanstalk, in which he played a Ken Dodd-type Diddyman. Later he performed in performances in Torquay such as A Flea in Her Ear and Children of a Lesser God, for which he had to learn sign language which, he says, regrettably he has now forgotten.

For two summer season he got paid acting work at Kent’s Cavern, where they did thriller tours and Derek had to be dressed up as Roman centurion.

After school he went to college for two years to study a piploma in performing arts, performing in such shows as Blood Brothers playing the part of Sammy.

While at college he toured schools to do drama in the community, probably inspiring other youngsters. His family also became interested in drama and performed in amateur productions and his father is still very active in his local society as chairman.

Due to Derek’s interest in drama he acquired parts as an ‘extra’ in various television shows such as Wycliffe, and the film Coming Home with Joanna Lumley and Peter O’Toole. He was also occasionally employed by a Murder Mystery Company.

Derek applied to Disney in Florida and was one of the very lucky ones out of thousands and worked for them for a year (you weren’t allowed to have a visa for any longer) as a cultural representative of the United Kingdom selling merchandise.

Part of the work entailed going into schools and talking to guests about British heritage. Disney World provided the accommodation and Derek lived with people from ten different countries including Canada and Norway.

While there he met his future wife Anna, who hailed from Fulstow – hence his journey across the Pond led to Derek living in Lincolnshire.

When he came back to England, longing to do some more acting, Derek then went to work for Disney in Paris for four months but, missing his girlfriend, he decided to come back to England, settling in Lincolnshire.

Time to be sensible, he gained employment in a bank as a cashier and forgot about acting for approximately six years as he progressed up the ladder to finally become a manager of two branches, one in Lincoln and one in Grimsby, marrying and then having two beautiful children, Toby and Isabelle.

After about six years in the area, thinking about his love of theatre, Derek came along to an Open Day at the Riverhead Theatre and couldn’t believe how lucky Louth is to have a theatre of such high standard.

After that day Derek started to get involved with the theatre on both the technical side as a sound and spot light operator (other skills he learned at college) and as an actor, encouraged by Su Soper to take part in Are You Being Served as Captain Peacock. Derek now spends so much time at the theatre he has to be reminded of the way home!

The Sound of Music is at the Riverhead Theatre from May 16 until May 26.

Please ring the box office on 01507 600350 for tickets.