Betty Crane: Dancer turned Norfolk theatre producer

Dancer turned Norfolk theatrical producer and director, Betty Crane, who has died aged 78, spent her entire life connected with the stage.

A highlight of her career was being presented to the Queen Mother at St James's Palace, London, in February 1974 at a reception marking the 75th anniv-ersary of the National Operatic and Dramatic Association.

She had been invited as the founder, chairman and producer of Norfolk Amateur Light Operatic Society (NALOS), which had been formed two years earlier.

Betty Grace Crane, who was born on February 2, 1933, the youngest of three, went to Notre Dame School. Her parents Daisy and Cecil King took in 'theatricals' in their Chapelfield house, now known as The Garage, just yards from the Theatre Royal, Norwich.

She trained as a dancer with Madame Ozina but contracted tuberculosis in her right leg in 1948, which doctors wanted to amputate. During her slow recovery, she studied piano and rapidly won a reputation for her terrific playing of 'show' songs and music.


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Later, she started her own dancing school and then in 1957 married Roy Crane. When he died in 1971, she was left to bring up two young children.

Her love of theatre led to the formation of NALOS, with her productions including Half-a-Sixpence, Anne of Green Gables, Sound of Music and many others. It was this ability as a pianist, which helped her to produce and direct with such obvious enthusiasm. A great friend of the late Dick Condon, she sometimes reckoned that together they both learned a great deal about staging productions.

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She always insisted, sometimes to the irritation of theatrical managers, that a programme should only cost 10p. It is also, at her request, the price 'set' for her order of service at her funeral.

In the early 1980s, she also started a costume hire business at College Road, Norwich, which rapidly outgrew the family's home. It was probably the only family home which had scenery instead of furniture and rails of costumes in bedrooms instead of wardrobes.

When she moved to Heath Crescent, Hellesdon, she was able to enjoy her smaller garden and also dedicate more time to her growing family.

While music and theatre were central to her life, in her later years, she also helped as a carer with terminally-ill people.

She leaves a daughter, Diddy, and son Nicholas. She is survived by a brother, Maurice while her older brother, Vernon, died in 2002. She leaves two grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

A funeral service was held at St Faith's Crematorium on June 13.

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