5:00pm Sunday 13th May 2012
By Neil D'Arcy-Jones
MEET the Gang that’s here to entertain you.
Next week marks the return of one of Colchester’s longest running theatrical traditions, the Colchester Gang Show.
The first show took place in London in 1932, using a collection of humorous sketches and music numbers from the Victorian music hall tradition.
The majority of the material came from professional dancer and producer Ralph Reader, and was so successful Scouts all over the country, and later the world, started to put on shows with their own distinct twists on the Ralph Reader format.
Colchester Scouts held their first show in the old Albert Hall, in High Street, in 1938. At first, shows were held every few years until 1969, when they took to the stage on an annual basis.
The sketch and song fest has been given numerous contemporary twists – and this year there will be another slight change in the format.
Cast member Martin Hearn explains: “A new production team has taken the lead this year to give a different twist “It’s loosely hung around a story about some Guides and Scouts and the mysterious time-travelling toilet tent.”
A few years ago, the show was limited to just the Scout movement but now the Gang Show involves Cubs, Scouts, Brownies, Guides, Explorers and even leaders from the various district packs in Colchester.
Martin adds: “Each year we get some new faces arrive, but there are also some long standing members involved, including the producers David Evans and Jacqui Archard, whose involvement stretches 30 years.”
Guide leader Kim Cheatham is a new member. She says: “I have no experience in a professional theatre but I’m really looking forward to it.”
It’s Time to Go: Colchester Gang Show Mercury Theatre Wednesday to Saturday, 7.30pm. £8 01206 573948
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