The Catholic Association of Performing Arts (CaApa) celebrated its annual festive dinner at Allen Hall, the seminary in Chelsea, with actor Timothy West CBE as guest of honour.
He entertained members with his after-dinner speech relating how he was dressed as an archbishop at the Vatican in a mitre several sizes too large and aroused the suspicions of the Swiss Guard.
He had been engaged to participate at the international symposium celebrating 1,000 years of Ss Cyril and Methodius in a dramatised reading. He had thought that he would be performing to just the Pope and cardinals and was startled to find himself in an auditorium with 8,000 seated and 2,000 standing.
Afterwards a beaming Pope John Paul II spoke to him and a photograph of himself dressed as an archbishop bowing to the Pontiff was taken, which now has pride of place on his mantelpiece.
Mr West will star in Exile, a new series on ITV, later this year. Michael Slater, CaApa’s master of ceremonies, welcomed their new chaplain, Fr Alan Robinson, parish priest of Corpus Christi, the actors’ church in Maiden Lane, London.
He joked that it was a prequisite for their chaplains to have appeared in panto. Fr Alan had played Sarah the cook and his predecessor, Fr Chris Vipers, had played Phyllis the washerwoman. Other guests included distinguished actor Frank Finlay and Frank and Mary Comerford, owners of The Stage newspaper.
Next year CaApa, the former Catholic Stage Guild, will be celebrating its centenary and various special performances and social events will be held throughout the year.
A history of the Guild will be presented by Michael Slater on January 20 at 7.30pm at the Club for Acts and Actors in Bedford Street, Covent Garden.