In the Autumn of 1928 a party of singers from Nork decided to form an Operatic Society. The founders consisted of a Chairman combined Musical Director, Business Manager cum Scenic Artist, Stage Manager cum Producer and a Pianist. Also a small orchestra was formed consisting of eight players.
A local resident, Alderman A.J. Hurley J.P. kindly allowed the society to use his old barn in Warren Road for rehearsals and the making of scenery and so the first opera, 'The Rebel Maid', was performed in the Banstead Institute in November 1929 followed by 'Dorothy' in the April of 1930. Thereafter a show was performed each year and in 1932 became affiliated to N.O.D.A.
In September 1931 the Society rendered 'The Hymn of Praise' with orchestra at a Service of Music at St. Paul's, Nork, where a silver collection was taken for the new Nork Church Building Fund and in April 1933 the Society performed in 'Merrie England' at The Cambridge Theatre, London, given for charity.
1933 saw an increase in the orchestra to 15 players and Mr. Harold Pitstow took over as Musical Director ‑ a post he retained until his retirement in 1973. 'Tom Jones' by Edward German was being rehearsed in 1939 when the outbreak of war forced the society to disband except for a few concerts which held members together until they were able to restart in 1945 ‑ producing 'My Lady Molly' in 1946.
September 1953 saw them taking part in a concert version of 'Merrie England' with other Societies at The Royal Albert Hall, presented by Madame Payling's Musical Society conducted by Colin Ratcliffe accompanied by the London Symphony Orchestra.
The Society moved their shows from Banstead Institute to Bourne Hall, Ewell, in 1972 and were the first amateur society to perform there with their production of 'Die Fledermaus'. However, when Epsom Playhouse was built they transferred there in 1984 with the show 'Oklahoma'. Their President, Dorothy Garside, who was 100 in 2003, was the original pianist back in 1929.
In recent times a particular highlight was the Saturday matinee of 'Half a Sixpence' in 1996. This was attended by the show's composer David Henneker He had travelled all the way from South Wales, in his 90th year, to see it. He commended it as one of the best productions he had seen - so there Tommy Steele!
The society performs major shows ranging from operetta to American musicals at the Epsom Playhouse. A range of successful shows at the Banstead Community Centre has included Music Hall, Gilbert and Sullivan and reviews like ‘Happy as a Sandbag'. The society has also been involved in other musical activities in the area with concert versions of shows at the Epsom Playhouse and the Fairfield Hall Croydon.
We celebrated our 75th Anniversary in May 2003 with an outstanding performance of 'Die Fledermaus' in honour of our Founder member and President, the late Dorothy Garside. We were delighted to be awarded an Accolade of Excellence from NODA - Southern Area for this performance.
The show was Directed by the late Norma Evans with Tom Higgins as our Musical Director and Coral Stodel as Choreographer.
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