Talented stars from Ascot, Crowthorne and Sandhurst will dazzle you this month at the 49th South East Berks Gang Show. Sandra Sidey tells us more…
South East Berkshire Gang Show first took to the stage in 1971 at Brakenhale School Theatre in Easthampstead. This premiere was produced by Richard Shirley, who went on to produce nine more. In the audience were Shirley Burns and her family who were so impressed with the show that they signed up to be in the second.
Shirley took over production for the 1982 show, which outgrew the school and moved, firstly to Camberley Civic Hall in the mid 1970s and then to its current venue at South Hill Park’s Wilde Theatre. Shirley continued as producer until 2018, passing the baton to a new team whose second show takes place this month, ahead of next year’s 50th golden anniversary.
We produce a show every year which takes place over the February half term. Our gang rehearse every Sunday afternoon from September but for the dedicated production team it is an all-year-round job. The cast averages between 90 and 100 members, both boys and girls, ranging in ages from nine to 90 years, all being current members of the Scout or Guide associations.
The team behind this community highlight includes the producer, assistant producer, director, stage manager, lighting, costumes, set production, crew manager, musical director, choreography and sound. Early in May a production meeting is held to produce a rough plan for the following February’s show including a proposed running order. They then each work on their ideas meeting regularly. By September when rehearsals start words and music are available for the cast and band. Each scene is planned and costumes designed.
The London Gang Show adopted the red scarf as its emblem and, if you were in an approved Gang Show you were entitled to the scarlet scarf with gold lettering on the back. To wear this shows you are recognised as an authentic Gang Show. The scarf was awarded to the South East Berks Gang Show in 1977 and has been re-assessed many times to ensure the high standard expected has been maintained – which of course it has.