A STROUD theatre troupe is restaging a popular thriller which they first performed 56 years ago.

The Cotswold Players' production of Frederick Knott’s classic 1950s play Dial M for Murder opens at the Cotswold Playhouse this Thursday and will run for two weeks.

The group first staged the show back in April 1963.

And at Monday's dress rehearsal, a very special guest from the original Players' cast came along to watch.

Roy Pearce, who played the character of Max in the 1963 production, can be seen pictured here, both in the original performance, and meeting with the current cast on Monday evening.

Director Tim Howard was taken to see the show at the Playhouse in April 1963, when he was only nine years old.

He remembered Roy's performance and invited him to come along.

"I was inspired to put on this play having been taken to see it 1963," he said.

"The memory of its dramatic central scene haunted me for years.

"What were my parents thinking," he joked.

"My mum and dad were both established Cotswold Players at that time and had already taken me to a number of the Players’ previous productions, but 'Dial M…' lived with me."

In preparing for his new production of the play, Tim trawled through photos and reviews from the 1963 staging and came across the name Roy Pearce.

Realising that he had acted with Roy at Coaley Music Hall in the early 2000s, Tim contacted him and invited him to be his special guest at the first dress rehearsal.

Probably best known today as the 1954 Alfred Hitchcock film, starring Grace Kelly and Ray Milland, Dial M for Murder had already established itself as a hugely successful stage play before the film was released.

“Its clever, tense and intricate plot still grips audiences today and the fact that the audience see murder carried out on stage still thrills and horrifies," said Tim.

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