Musical group back in Gosport after 23 years

FEED ME! The cast of Little Shop of Horrors is ready for the show. Picture: Sarah Standing (123376-8202)
FEED ME! The cast of Little Shop of Horrors is ready for the show. Picture: Sarah Standing (123376-8202)
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THE cast of a musical theatre group is to take to the stage in Gosport after a 23-year break from the town.

Gosport Musical Theatre Productions stopped performing at Thorngate Halls, in Bury Road in 1989.

They fell out with management there when a cadet military marching band playing in the ballroom next door repeatedly interrupted the group’s Gilbert and Sullivan shows.

Jim Curtis, show secretary then and now, said: ‘With the shows you had lots of libretto and talking and we didn’t use mics as we were trained to project our voices. But when you’ve got a military band playing next door the audience couldn’t hear you at all.

‘When I approached the management they told me that we’d have to pay for both the ballroom and the stage.’

Unable to afford the costs of renting two rooms, the group moved their performances to Ferneham Hall, in Fareham. But the society, which was established in Lee-on-the-Solent in 1959 has been asked back to Thorngate Halls.

Management at the venue have now told the group that soundproofing will ensure an uninterrupted performance.

The group, which continued to rehearse shows and sing at church services in Gosport, will stage the musical comedy Little Shop of Horrors.

Mr Curtis said: ‘Back then we were Gosport Amateur Operatic Society. Not many people know us; we have returned to our roots. We’ve always wanted to return, we’ve always done the rehearsals in Gosport and a few services in the United Reformed church and David Bogue Hall. We are well and truly a Gosport-oriented society and this is about the right time to move back.’

The group had faced difficulties in finding talent upon its return.

But after appealing to The News in June, talented actors and singers have flocked to the production, including students from St Vincent College, in Mill Lane, Gosport.

Now with a full cast on board, Mr Curtis is optimistic about the success of the production, which tells the story of an alien plant that drinks human blood.

And staff at Thorngate Halls have welcomed their return.

Lynn Croucher, community development officer at Thorngate Halls, said: ‘We are certainly happy to have them back, they belong to Gosport.

‘We’re keen to bring them back to the centre of the town.’

The show opens on Wednesday, November 7 at 7.30pm and runs until Saturday, November 10. Tickets are available from Thorngate Halls box office.