One of the Fylde coast’s longest running musical societies is looking for new blood.
Marton Operatic Society, now in its 85th year, has just started rehearsals for its latest production – The Mikado – and is hoping to attract more members to come on board.
With around 60 members ranging in age from 16 to in their 80s, men and women in largely equal numbers, the society has quite a varied membership.
The group is particularly keen to expand its younger membership.
The society puts on an annual Gilbert and Sullivan musical at the Lowther Pavilion, Lytham.
Rehearsals take place on Wednesday nights at St Paul’s Church, Whitegate Drive, Blackpool.
Lynn Corlett, publicity officer, said: “As in all societies, we have a great mix of personalities and characters. We are especially keen to keep the society going and to see its 100th anniversary and, to do this, we need new members – particularly new singers and new actors, but we also have members who build scenery and people who do the props.
“They do not need previous experience and membership is free to anyone aged 14 plus in full-time education.
“It is all great fun, as I found out after joining last year.
“We would love to have some younger members join, especially. Some of the shows require people to be quite active and agile.
“It’s such a friendly group, everyone receives a warm welcome.”
The youngest member of the society at the moment is Chloeann Foster, aged 16, from Thornton.
She hopes to go into musical theatre eventually as a career and is also training as an opera singer.
She said: “There were not many groups who allowed under 16s to join, but I found Marton Operatic did and I stayed because I love it.
“It’s like a massive family. It’s really good fun and everyone supports each other.
“I don’t think Gilbert and Sullivan is old-fashioned or dull as some people might suggest, it’s funny and mostly relatable.
“Probably my favourite production is Ruddigore, it was my first one, so that made it special.”
And Sarah Vallantine, 31, a teacher at Manor Beach Primary in Cleveleys, said: “I was encouraged by a couple of members of another group I attend.
“The society is a really friendly bunch of people and there’s nothing better than having the opportunity to sing witty and melodic songs together.”
Ken Dagger, chairman of the society, has been a member for 28 years.
He said: “I was invited to join, I’ve always been into the theatre.
“Since then I’ve played many principal roles and there is always a real opportunity in Gilbert and Sullivan for comedy roles.
“There is such great humour in the shows – I think Gilbert and Sullivan are the greatest opera writers this country has ever had.”
The youngest male member of the society is 17-year-old Nathan Price, a sports psychology student, hoping to turn semi-professional in the near future as a footballer with ACF Blackpool.
He said: “When I was in high school, I did GCSE drama and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute. When I was about 10, I starred in HMS Pinafore and I had a lot of fun doing it.”
Tony Alman, who has been a member since 2002, said: “I think Gilbert and Sullivan is wonderful. It’s a crying shame it’s no longer on the syllabus in schools.
“But since 2008, we have been going into primary schools doing workshops, based on each year’s production.”
Jacqui Veazey, who has been in the society for 30 years, said: “The children get to try on costumes and we walk them through scenes.
“I started singing in my teens and Gilbert and Sullivan was always of interest.
“Now I am a life member of the society. I love the camaraderie, the friendships and social aspect, as well as the music.”
To find out more, visit www.martonoperatic.co.uk or call Pat Skovlund on (01253) 826404 or Joyce Wright 700875.
* Read about the history of Marton Operatic in the all-new Memory Lane, on June 5.