Shields Amateurs strike the right chord

Members of South Shields Gilbert and Sullivan Operatic Society as they will appear in  a production of  The Gondoliers.   Sid Cowdridge as the court solicitor, Annibale with courtiers.
Members of South Shields Gilbert and Sullivan Operatic Society as they will appear in a production of The Gondoliers. Sid Cowdridge as the court solicitor, Annibale with courtiers.
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The recent articles about the South Shields Amateur Operatic Society have certainly struck a chord with readers.

Martin Grey got in touch to say: “I’ve enjoyed reading your recent series of articles on South Shields Amateur Operatic Society.

“My dad, Jim Grey, now sadly deceased, appears in a number of the photographs.

“This was his life around November ‘show week’, and indeed for many weeks of intense preparation prior to that.

“I remember little of his acting career with the society, other than an incredibly energetic appearance as Fagin from Oliver in an anniversary concert at the Sunderland Empire.

“But I do recall his imposing figure at the top of the stairs at the Empire, welcoming the audience as chairman of the society in the late 80s/early 90s.”

Anne Armstrong, of East Boldon, also wrote with her memories of the society.

“As an ex-member of South Shields Amateur Operatic Society, I would like you to know how much I’ve enjoyed reading your recent articles, certainly a trip down memory lane for me.

“I joined the society in 1961, having been persuaded by a work colleague, as I lived in Seaham at that time. From then until 1979 I sang the leading lady part in six shows, my favourites being Kings Rhapsody, My Fair Lady and The Merry Widow.

“I have all the Gazette reports as the music critic always attended the first performance.

“Truly a most magical time for me as I was singing for one of the finest and most dedicated societies in the north of England. People came from far and wide to applaud their professionalism. (My name at that time was Anne Wilkinson).

“I made many friends during that time, and am still very much in touch with Maurice Powell and his sister Freda.

“Sadly, there doesn’t seem to be many societies left now. Thank you again.”

A recent trawl through the Gazette’s archives produced a lot of photos relating to the local Gilbert and Sullivan society, one of which I have included today, along with a mystery picture.

I’d love to hear from those people who used to tread the boards with the G&S Society, and from anyone who can shed any light on the mystery picture.