Musical society steps up search for new talent

SPRINGTIME SHOW: The cast of Carousel in Spring 2018. This year Garforth Musical Society will put on High  Society in May.
SPRINGTIME SHOW: The cast of Carousel in Spring 2018. This year Garforth Musical Society will put on High Society in May.

A long running musical society is on the lookout for the next generation to tread the boards.

The origins of Garforth Musical Society date back to just after the Second World War.

CHRISTMAS: The society does a pantomime each year, Like 'Cinderella' in 2017.

CHRISTMAS: The society does a pantomime each year, Like 'Cinderella' in 2017.

The amateur dramatic group puts on a pantomime and a Broadway or West End musicals at Garforth Welfare Hall every year.

But officials are concerned about membership levels and want to recruit more people, particularly children.

Chairman Mark Dixon, 58, said: “We’ve got a few children but not very many now. Most of the group are aged 40 plus now, I would even say 50 plus, like myself and we have quite a few retired members as well.”

Mr Dixon, who has been involved since 1984 when he used to serve the tea and coffee, said they had around 35 members now. He added: “When I first joined the society there were three times as many as that.”

PAST PERFORMANCE: Garforth Musical Society's production of My Fair Lady in 2008. Selena Marsh played Eliza Doolittle.

PAST PERFORMANCE: Garforth Musical Society's production of My Fair Lady in 2008. Selena Marsh played Eliza Doolittle.

He graduated to the stage in 1987 when he was in ‘The Pyjama Game’ and has been in “quite a lot since”.

Mr Dixon said: “I think one of the main things has been friendship and companionship. You meet some nice people.

“Obviously, there is the thrill of performing. Our late musical director, Edith Rodgerson, always said, ‘This word amateur doesn’t mean to say that you can’t put on a proper show. People are paying to see it. You’ve got to do a show as well as you can do it’.

“She was right. Just because we are amateurs doesn’t mean we can’t put our heart and soul into it.”

Attendances were very encouraging for its recent pantomime, ‘Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs’.

But audience numbers have been lower for its Springtime shows.

Mr Dixon added: “I don’t think people go to the theatre as much. I was brought up as a child going to the theatre, because there wasn’t the television like there is today.

“It’s all changed with the Internet, Netflix and all those things. I just feel people see that it is amateur. It’s like Edith used to say, ‘It’s amateur but they don’t realise we are trying to do our best and a professional job’.

“With the pantomime we do well, but it’s the main shows really. At Christmas we get about 120 in for a performance.

Apart for a couple of nights for the main show in Spring, you are looking at half full audiences. Some of the early nights - and we try and reduce tickets as well - you are talking about only getting about 60 people in. It’s double or more for Christmas.”

Their next production is High Society at Garforth Welfare Hall from May 14 to 18. The show features music and lyrics by Cole Porter and is based on the play ‘The Philadelphia Story’.

The group need people to fill a wide range of roles at the society - not just those on stage.

Chairman Mr Dixon added: The first thing to do is to come along and have a look at the shows and the pantomime. See what we do. You don’t have to jump straight in. If anybody is looking for a couple of nights out a week then we do other things as well.

“Rehearsals are open house and we are looking for members. They don’t necessarily need any experience, we are always looking for people back stage: sound and lighting, costumes, make up and front of house.

“It doesn’t have to be on stage. During the show week you could even help put the chairs out in the hall.”

For more information please see www.garforthmusicalsociety.co.uk.