Southwick Opera set to celebrate 50 years

Southwick Opera's next production celebrates 50 years with a journey through the shows
Southwick Opera's next production celebrates 50 years with a journey through the shows
  • Amateur operatic society marks anniversary
  • Next show will be Golden Memories
  • Journey over last 50 years’ shows

SOUTHWICK Opera is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a look back over its shows.

The company’s next production, Golden Memories, will be a journey through the shows over the years.

We have been a very happy and successful company and over the years, have built on our experiences and expanded greatly

Sue Gotham, committee member

It will be directed by Simon Gray and performed at the Barn Theatre, in Southwick Community Centre, from May 14 to 16.

Committee member Sue Gotham said it all began in the summer of 1965, when around 25 people met at the community centre in answer to an article placed in the Community News by Mr Roy Davidson, warden of the centre at the time.

“The news item stated that while there were many classes held at the centre, there was nothing to cover any type of musical and singing interest,” she explained.

“At this initial meeting, all aspects of forming an operatic society were discussed.

“A steering committee was set up, with Roy Davidson appointed as musical director and secretary of the company, a position he held until retirement in 1991.”

The company’s debut was Gilbert and Sullivan’s Trial by Jury, plus extracts from operetta and musicals in spring 1966.

Sue added: “Since then, we have been a very happy and successful company and over the years, have built on our experiences and expanded greatly.”

In 1998, the Barn Theatre was improved and extended, at a cost of almost £2 million, thanks largely to Lottery funding.

The theatre now includes a much-enlarged stage and benefits from state-of-the-art technology.

Southwick Opera has staged some ambitious productions of many of the world’s best-loved operas, plus other musical shows and operetta, under the direction of inspired producers and conductors.

“Notable among them is Philip Green, who stayed with the company for 33 years,” said Sue.

“Credit must also be given to the myriad workers backstage, the excellent wardrobe and workshop teams and the efficient box office staff.”

In 2005, Southwick Opera celebrated its 40th anniversary with Eugene Onegin, which the company had previously produced in 1973.

Sue said: “Audiences both local and from further afield loyally support the company and are able to enjoy opera at a reasonable cost.”

Tickets for Golden Memories are £10 for Thursday, May 14, and Friday, May 15, when the show starts at 7.30pm, and £13 for Saturday, May 15, with it starts at 6pm. Visit www.southwickcommunitycentre.org.uk or call the box office on 01273 597094.

It is hoped past members will return, on stage or in the audience, and, for past and present members, a party will follow the last show.