The Bingley Amateur Operatic Society celebrates 100 years on stage

It is the centenary year of the Bingley Amateur Operatic Society, and members are busy collecting treasured keepsakes and mementos from the shows of yesteryear.

The Company’s 100th anniversary celebration will take place on Saturday in the studio of the Bingley Little Theater. In accordance with Covid safety guidelines, the number of participants will be limited.

The event will include exhibitions of photographs and memorabilia and a cabaret with singing highlights. Old friends and artists will come together for a nostalgic and memorable evening!

During the economic recovery after the Great War, the Society was one of many groups formed from church choirs.

During these early years, rehearsals took place wherever suitable premises could be found. The first production was Dogs of Devon in 1921, performed in the Methodist Chapel on Hill Street.

In 1925 the Society was known as the Bingley Congregational Amateur Operatic Society and colloquially known as the “Bingley Congs”.

The production that year was Maid of the Mountains.

In 1927, the Bingley Pool was opened. Above the water, a magnificent Canadian maple wood floor could be installed, allowing it to be used for public functions. Known as “Princes Hall”, it has become the Society’s new venue.

Rehearsal space was scarce but you could always find somewhere; Church House on Old Main Street served admirably for a few years, as did the Great Hall below the Old Library on Main Street (thanks to Bingley’s advice). It later became the Porkies nightclub.

The annual productions continued until 1939 when everything was suspended until the “end of hostilities”. There is a six-year gap in the minutes of the management committee marking the passage of those years of deprivation during World War II.

Interestingly, the 1939 production was Goodnight Vienna, an omen of our country’s separation from Fortress Europe. The next production, in 1946, was Tulip Time with its promise of dreams come true and happier times to come.

After the dark years of World War II and before the proliferation of television and family cars, when the primary form of transportation to entertainment venues was trams and trolleybuses, amateur music societies have experienced increasing success in their development. hometowns.

They provided a hobby and a gathering point for aspiring performers and performers. While still producing one show per year, the Bingley Society has kept pace with offering new shows released for amateurs.

Our older citizens may remember being part of some of the great successes of those decades:

* The Prince studying in 1949;

* La Petite Amie in 1955;

* Oklahoma in 1957;

* South Pacific in 1966;

* The Man of Music in 1987;

* Violin on the roof in 1992.

With the opening of the Bingley Arts Center in 1974, the Society finally had a professional theater for its performances.

After the building came under the control of Bingley Little Theater in 2012, members of the Society played their part in the continued development and improvement of the theater which today includes a rotating stage and an enviable lighting system. .

In 1986, after extensive fundraising, the Company purchased its current rehearsal space at Ferncliffe Road. Here too, in 2021, thanks to better fundraising, work began to replace the old Victorian roof and make major improvements to the interior space.

Towards the end of the last century, the Society made the decision to expand its audience by including a family pantomime in its calendar.

Since 1997, these have proven to be a real hit in increasing the popularity of the Society, also serving to introduce local children to the thrill and joy of live performances. Some of these young people are of course the performers, set builders and pillars of tomorrow.

Each theatrical performance produces tales and legends of humor and hiccups.

One of them was during rehearsals for Oklahoma in 2006; the actor playing Curly developed a serious throat disease, but the show was saved when members of the Society teamed up to fund urgent surgery for him at the Yorkshire Clinic.

To everyone’s delight, recent ambitious productions such as Cats, Flashdance, Acorn Antiques and The Full Monty have brought ever higher levels of performance.

The Company has a long affiliation with the National Operatic and Dramatic Association (NODA).

In keeping with the ideals of many societies, Bingley Amateurs has played its part in the community by making annual donations to local charities.

It supports the Bingley Show and provides singers for local retirement homes around Christmas time. It enjoys mutual supportive links with other musical societies where ideas, costumes and sets can be shared.

The Society is proud to look back on its hundred years, not only for its record at Bingley, but for what it offers to its members: a rewarding pastime bringing friendship, personal development and fulfillment to all involved. thanks to teamwork.

Next year, we plan to stage a production of The Little Mermaid, in March 2022. The auditions are over and work has started on our sets. At present, we are still in the process of redesigning the interior of the company’s premises. The big roofing jobs are in the hands of our chosen contractor. The rehearsals will start in the new year.

* There must be a lot of former member families who have memories, stories, and treasures from our shows of yesteryear.

If you are one of them, why not come to our event on Saturday November 20 at Bingley Little Theater with your memories?

Participation is free, but participants will need to book in advance by emailing Margaret at [email protected]

or Jeff at [email protected]

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