Lanark Amateur Musical Society have been performing since 1979 and have produced successful shows that have been enjoyed by many. We are a small, fun loving company who aim to provide quality entertainment for all age ranges. Since our inception, we have been affiliated to NODA and members regularly attend the annual NODA conference. We are strong supporters of Musical Theatre in Lanarkshire and arrange travel to other Company’s shows.
Twenty Five Years of Song (1979 to 2004)
By David Marks
“Acclaim for hit Opera” was a headline in the Lanark Gazette in April 1980, following the successful launch of Upper Clyde Operatic Society with their inaugural production of Franz Lehar’s “The Merry Widow”.
That show, and the launch of the society was largely down to the vision and efforts of two men-Andrew Jamieson and Sinclair Beaumont, who pleaded, cajoled and bullied people into helping form a new venture in Lanark- and the rest, as they say, is history.
Following their first success, the society decided to give Gilbert and Sullivan an airing with a double bill of “Trial by Jury” and “Pirates of Penzance”, but with great daring had the music for “Trial” re-arranged by Bernard Sumner with a jazz feel to reflect the flappers, fun and frivolity of the 1920s, the copyright of which we still hold.
1982 saw the bubbly flowing with a production of “Pink Champagne” followed in 1983 by “Passion Flower”, the amateur version of Bizet’s “Carmen” – two years of taxing work for the cast, singing some of the most famous arias and choruses ever written.
Changing to a different genre, 1984 gave us “Brigadoon” with the cast not only having to learn lines and music, but also helping to build and paint scenery too, in an effort to save on expense. As the Stage Manager, Bruce, remarked “Brigadoon – without a brig!”, and it didn’t help when one of the stage crew put an item of scenery on stage during a blackout, only to discover as the lights went up, that it was back to front!!
A royal love story came next with the production of Fritz Kreisler’s operetta “Lisa” and 1986 gave a more sombre air with the music of Greig in “Song of Norway”, a success despite great concern at one time that the Memorial Hall would not be available for the show. The highpoint from the stage crew’s point of view was the building from scratch of a grand piano to appear on stage, taking a total of 185 man hours to create, according to a reporting the “Gazette”.
The next year saw the Society again returning to G&S with “The Gondoliers”, followed in 1988 with the news that the Mounties were coming, with the presentation of “Rose Marie”, and the our tenth birthday was celebrated by a return to the much loved “Merry Widow”. Despite the excellence of the production, what sticks in the minds of many was Jim Duncan splitting his trousers on stage, and his blushes being spared by the careful positioning of Gail Hamilton’s fan!
1990 saw us travelling east, with Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Mikado”, and I’ll bet Jamie Hill wishes he still had the hairstyle he had then! Memorable also not only for the music, spectacular costumes and sets, but for the moment when Keith Proctor as Pooh Bah strode on to stage, forgot his lines, said “Oh, s**t, and strode off to return seconds later, word perfect.
“Gypsy Love” in 1991 was followed in 1992 by a return to the “musical” with Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Carousel”, a favourite of many. Also in 1992 Channel 4 T.V. were filming a programme about music in Lanark, and the Society re-created their 1920’s version of “Trial by Jury”, held in the actual Sheriff Court, for their benefit. This must have stirred memories for the following year saw the Society doing a reprise of “Trial” in its original form, combined with “Pirates of Penzance”, always a great double bill.
In 1994 we were all on the “Showboat” riding the crest of a wave, and deciding to bring back “Pink Champagne” in 1995 after a gap of thirteen years.
A touch of the Irish gripped the Society next with the presentation of “Finian’s Rainbow”. The casting of the then Hall Manager, Raymond, as the little leprechaun ensuring that we got the best of the hall’s facilities! And then it was welcome to “Oklahoma” in 1997, to many the best of the Rodgers and Hammerstein’s collusions and certainly a test of fitness for the cast during the energetic dancing numbers.
The thought of seeing the cast in Pajamas and negligees may put off some, but the 1998 production of “The Pajama Game” was great fun, and thoroughly enjoyed by all. Also in 1998 we presented the first of our Autumn Revues, “Around the World in 80 Minutes”, which consisted of songs from, or about, the rest of the world. A big success and a great help financially.
Our biggest ever success at the box-office to date was in 1999 with the production of “The Sound of Music” with the then Debbie McQuoney giving Julie Andrews a good run for her money, despite having to suspend belief in imagining Debbie as a nun!! The Society’s Revue that year was “Music Through the Millennium”, another enjoyable event.
During 1999 the decision was taken to change the name of the Society to the present Lanark Amateur Musical Society, thus more closely reflecting both our amateur status and more the type of show being presented.
We couldn’t seem to get away from Rodgers and Hammerstein and 2000 saw us staging the ever popular “King and I”, with side bets being taken as to whether or not Tom Rieley as the King would shave his head or not!! This being followed by our Autumn Revue “Take it from the Top”.
In 2001 it was decided “Anything Goes” and Cole Porter’s music was heard wafting through the streets of Lanark, followed by the Revue “Rhythm of Life”, before we got all Shakespearean in 2002 with another Cole Porter work, “Kiss me Kate” – great fun!
Then it was out West with “Calamity Jane” and this year our 25th production is “South Pacific”. A quarter of a century of music!
Over the years the society has provided loads of fun and enjoyment to hundreds of members and thousands of audience members. New and lasting friendships have been forged in the furnace of rehearsal sessions and many a romantic link up too. Members have gone or moved away, but new blood and new talent has arrived to take their place and result in a thriving society which we trust will give pleasure to thousands for the next twenty five years and beyond.