'˜On stage and off, this theatrical group is like my second family'
Thirty years treading the boards of amateur theatre and the cast of Garstang Musical Productions are readying to celebrate with one of their most ambitious shows yet.
This ‘family’ of thespians have been delighting their loyal audiences since their first performance The Olde Thyme Music Hall in 1986.
There have been more than 60 shows staged since that original production.
From St Thomas’s Church Hall in Garstang to their now home at Garstang Community Academy, GMP have staged a variety of shows, from the classics of Gilbert and Sullivan to West End favourites.
In October (19-22) they will stage a four-night run of Sister Act.
Originally the Garstang Light Opera Group, it was started by locals Tony Hindle, Peter Hine and Jack Garner.
Member Roger Savage says: “There was a gap locally to put a group together to stage musical shows, in those early years the Light Opera Group performed Gilbert and Sullivan to early, mid-20th century musicals.”
Many of those members from the early days are still involved with GMP today, including Mary and Bill Bateson, Ann Delaney and Anne Waite, who have never missed a show.
From sewing the costumes to building the stage, make-up, to front of house, lights, sounds to producing and choreography, the 40-plus members have voluntarily fulfilled many roles.
Ann Delaney recalls: “In the beginning we had nothing, not a single penny. Everything was made from scratch down to the stage, which was built by Bill.”
Productions now cost anywhere up to £9,000 and as well as the ‘sancrosanct’ Thursday evening rehearsals, fund-raising is an equally important part of the production process.
Many local charities have also benefited from the groups’ activities, including cancer charity Croston House, the North West Children’s Support Group and the ADAM Appeal.
Generations of families have appeared in shows over the years, and Marion Gaughan, who has been part of GMP for 27 years, says family have often been called upon to lend a hand.
She says: “When we moved to town, we didn’t know anyone, I joined the choir and was invited from there – they have become my second family. We really all are the best of friends, it is lovely.”
l Garstang Musical Productions meet in the Arts Centre, Garstang, Thursdays from 7.30pm.