To celebrate its 80th anniversary, Uxbridge Musical Theatre is performing a selection of masterpieces from legendary musical creators Oscar Hammerstein II and Richard Rodgers. JERRY LYONS speaks to UMT member Janice Lim, to find out more about the group and the anniversary concert
FORMED in 1928, Uxbridge Musical Theatre began its creative life as Uxbridge and District Musical and Dramatic Society; the name change was made in more recent years. Its first production was Edward German's Merrie England, which was performed at St John's Hall in Royal Lane.
The society retains links with its past - Mary Bolton, one of the current presidents, is the widow of a founder member and past president of the society, Ted Bolton.
St John's Hall was the society's home for more than 40 years and numerous musical productions, plays, concerts and revues were performed there. In 1970, a new base was found at Winston Churchill Hall in Ruislip - a larger, more fully equipped hall.
At that time the society moved away from including plays in its repertoire and concentrated on musical activities, staging a major music production and a 'music hall' each year.
In 1981 the society moved again, this time to the recently opened Beck Theatre, where the first production was of The Merry Widow. Financial concerns forced a return to Winston Churchill Hall for the 2003 production of Beguiled Again.
Janice Lim has been a member of the group for eight years.
"The theatre is a great way to make friends and everyone involved in our group is friendly; we have a good atmosphere when rehearsing and performing," she say.
"A Grand Night for Singing is a lovely show. It's full of music people know, some they might not but the high quality of the writing runs through them all."
Janice puts down the group's longevity to the tenacity of its members.
"I think there is and always has been very determined people within the group over the years. Even when some previous shows have not been
well attended, we never thought about calling it a day, we just got together to think how we can improve," she says.
The musical revue A Grand Night for Singing was conceived as a showcase for the music of Richard Rodgers and the lyrics of Oscar Hammerstein II. It includes songs from well-known hits, such as Carousel, Oklahoma!, The King and I and South Pacific, but also features lesser-known shows, such as Allegro, Flower Drum Song and Pipe Dream.
* A Grand Night for Singing runs from Thursday, November 13, to Saturday, November 15, at Winston Churchill Hall, Ruislip, at 7.30pm, with a 2.30pm matinée on Saturday. Tickets are £11 full price and £9 for concessions. For more information, see www.umtheatre.co.uk