Poynton Gilbert and Sullivan Society was formed at the end of 1970 with a nucleus of members belonging to St George’s Church choir, and led by Ethel and Fred Holmes, Les Jones, Mavis Holt and Ann Wood. The group gave its first public performance, a concert version of “The Mikado”, about a year later – by all accounts such a lively and highly enjoyable affair that it was sung almost twice! From then it has expanded its operation and has continued to perform every year since.
Between 1972 and 1974 only concerts were given. The first full dress, week-long production with orchestra was “The Gondoliers”, staged at the High School in 1975. Since then, apart from a few further visits to the school, almost all main productions have been staged at Poynton Civic Hall.
Over the years we have visited several parts of the village for our rehearsals – Clumber Road Methodist Church, Park Lane Methodist Church, the Scout Hut, St George’s Hall, Worth Primary School, Vernon Primary School, the High School, the new Methodist Church and, more recently, at Poynton Youth & Community Centre. However, for the most part we now rehearse at St Martin’s Hall in Higher Poynton: this is on most Wednesday evenings throughout the year at 8.00pm.
Our music has been supplied at times by Bollington Brass Band, by Macclesfield Light Orchestra and by groups of musicians led by various musical directors – Les Jones, Jack Dootson, John Ramsbottom, Ian Mackintosh, Tony Dearman, David Golightly, David Poole, David Tibbles and Katharine Brown. Let us also recall the sterling support provided by our rehearsal accompanists Emma Daniels, Dorothy Clayton, Gladys Wood, Harry Garner, Eric Coates, Ian Beresford and Joyce Deighton (a life member) – and choreographers Jean Bowden, Ros Renouf, Jane Makin and Carolyn Asher.
Producers have included Jim Brown, John Holt, Richard Huggett, Ann Wood, Don Ferguson, Pat Penney, Linda Davis (Bell), Annie Mitchell (Masters) and Catherine Silman.
Although we are traditionally a G&S society, this does not preclude us from performing other suitable works (as can be seen in a separate list of our previous productions). Several times we have performed two major shows a year, in spring and in autumn. Our current practice is to give one main fully-costumed production early in October and utilise the spring/winter seasons to offer a series of one/two-night concerts: these latter are typically a repertoire of popular music from songs, shows and carols.
For the concerts we have sometimes embarked upon collaborations with other groups – such as the High School, Vernon Junior School and the former Spotlight Singers – and perform in other venues such as Poynton Youth & Community Centre, Woodford Community Centre, Lyme Hall, Poynton Royal British Legion and several residential homes in the district.
In spite of all the hard but enjoyable work involved in productions, we still endeavour not to neglect the social side of things – with the occasional dinner, Christmas fair, hoe-down, quiz night, and outings to see performances at Buxton and by other operatic societies (indeed, some of our members also belong to such). In addition to this we maintain strong links with other local societies.
A collaboration in 2003 culminated in a successful three-way performance of “Oliver”; this involved adult cast/chorus from Society members, junior cast/chorus from Vernon Junior School and musicians and staging at the High School (a ‘first’ under their performing arts status). In turn this led to our having a junior section of members, fondly known as the G&S Kidz, who regularly had their own “slot” in our concerts. Unfortunately, all the Kidz have now moved on to higher education.
In 2010 we proudly celebrated our 40th anniversary with a series of special events through the year, including a gala dinner.