History of the Auckland Central Gang Show
1969 - 1971
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Back in 1968 (sounds like prehistory these days, doesn’t it?), a District Scouters’ Council was held in Waitemata District to discuss the many things that such meetings do. Present at that meeting was a very young ASL from St Mary’s 1908 Scout Troop in Parnell, who previously had circularised the other leaders with the suggestion that, as the Auckland Area Gang Show had come to an end the previous year, perhaps the District should mount its own Gang Show. When the time came for this particular item on the agenda, he turned to two Scouters from St Aidan’s (whom he hardly knew) and asked them to second the motion. They did, and a sub-committee was formed to produce the 1969 show. The Director’s experience consisted of having participated in various school productions and having been a member of the South Auckland District Gang Show in 1961 and 1963. Some members of the sub-committee had been involved in the Auckland Area Gang Shows of 1965, 1966 and 1967, but in some cases others had no experience at all. The difficulties encountered by this valiant band were monumental. As usual, there was no money so a ‘float’ of ten dollars from each Group was arranged. Not all Groups were forthcoming, and so about seventy dollars represented the total working capital.
A cast was recruited and some forty two keen performers graced the stage on opening night. In that very first show:
- There was no choreography whatsoever, except for a Can-Can performed by the male Scout Leaders.
- The production was lit by eight 500 watt lights which were switched on and off manually as there were no dimmers
- The total costume expenditure was $2.80.
- The sets were made of light grey card which sagged, ripped and was still being painted at the last dress rehearsal.
- There was no sound system.
- The stage was about the size of your average living room and you could see through the curtains.
- The cast contained a number of cubs, some of whom went to sleep on stage in front of the audience during the performances.
Despite all this the show made a profit of $200.00 and thus began the line of shows that have brought us to where we are now.
There was more organisation to the 1970 show – the team had learnt from some of their errors in the 1969 show. Jim Ponsford came up with the logo which was to become that adpoted ever since. Even so, scenery was being painted on-stage while the cast performed in front! Like 1969, this was a totally Ralph Reader show!
Another Ralph Reader show with a bigger cast and more ambitious staging – there even some lights that dimmed, but not many! Make-up was water-based, and applied with a sponge. If not correctly done, you looked like you had been swimming in chocolate!