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Sale Gilbert & Sullivan  Society Est. 1973 Updated 11 August 2019 Registered Charity Number 1164309 MainPic Click on picture above to  see a larger version

Article for the Act magazine 2015

Tony Topping

So, where to next………

After many years of performing at The Garrick Theatre, Altrincham, it just wasn’t financially viable to continue booking the theatre for a full week and a 16 piece orchestra. This then posed the question “where to next”?

Shall we downsize and go to the local church hall?

Should we stop performing?

Should we look wider afield?

Better still, lets move to The Lowry at Salford Quays! So that's exactly what we did!

It was with an air of trepidation that we took The Pirates of Penzance to the studio in The Lowry Theatre with a large cast of principals and chorus numbering approximately 35 performers.

The studio is a very configurable working space with a large performance area. We chose the configuration that would allow seating for 139 people.

Tickets went on sale in December 2014, although our performance was in May 2015. We were very pleasantly surprised to discover we had sold out over three nights by the middle of April (we subsequently opened up the dress rehearsal at a local school for people who couldn’t get tickets).

There is something very unerving, yet exciting, about moving to a new venue and being taken out of our comfort zone. There were many logistical issues to be addressed, but team work was the key to this whole adventure, from building the stand-alone set locally to many members of the Society pulling together to look after props etc. This turned everything into a great team building exercise. Of course we had problems to deal with along the way but, in the words of the motto “keep calm - stay focused”, and we did.

The Lowry was incredibly supportive and we were treated no differently from a professional touring group. To look under “Musicals” and to find the society’s show advertised between the professional shows of Wicked and Barnum is just a quick indication of the Lowry’s attitude towards and amateur society.

Our first performance of the show at the theatre was opening night, so more logistical issues had to be addressed. I think its the professional attitude and tolerance of our members which shows the spirit of friendship we have in the society that helped us deal with whatever came our way.We performed with two pianos and a violinist and this was never questioned. After performing the three nights ) Monday - Wednesday) the feedback was phenomenal, not only from the cast but also from the audience. To pick just a few of the best comments:

We loved the intimacy of the theatre

• We were there with you as Pirates and Maidens and felt so part of the performance

• We loved being close enough tp hear every word and see every facial expression

• Been coming for years and this was your best yet

I could go on and on!

Financially, the whole exercise was about the being self-financing the show and we successfully achieved that.

Will we do it again?

Without question and we are already booked in The Studio between the 23rd - 25th May 2016 to perform Iolanthe…… early!

Overall we are now in a much stringer position financially and this has given us a great platform to return to Sale Waterside between the 20th - 22nd October 2015 where we will be performing The Mikado as a full production complete with a 16 piece orchestra.