Morley AOS Celebrate 90 Glorious Yeaes
Morley Amateur Operatic Society (MAOS) Histo
A CELEBRATION OF 90 GLORIOUS YEARS
The Society was formed in 1927 as the Morley Technical Institute Amateur Operatic Society. (Technical Institute referring to the fact that the rehearsals were held as evening classes inMorley Grammar School through the Local Education Board.)
Our first production was The Mikado, performed at Morley Town Hall on the 8th, 9th and 10th of December 1927. Ticket prices were 1, 2 and 3 Shilling (5p, 10p and 15p).
Gilbert and Sullivan operettas were a popular choice for several years but gradually more mainstream musicals were included, and continued to be presented at Morley Town Hall until 1938.
Productions resumed after the war and The Vagabond King was performed in 1948 at the Pavilion Cinema in Morley and productions continued there until the Pavilion closed. With comfortable seating for an audience of 800 the front of house facilities were ideal, but not so backstage. Wing space was very limited and dressing rooms were virtually non existent. Work on the stage couldn't start until the last film had finished on the Saturday night, then the projection screen, speakers and equipment had to be taken out and replaced with backcloths and scenery. The dress rehearsal took place on the Sunday and the show started on the Monday.
In 1969 the Society returned to the Town Hall with The Desert Song. In 1972 the Society was proud to present the North-Eastern premiere of Pickwick. Harry Secombe who starred in the West End production kindly provided a photograph and a good luck message for the programme. He apologised for not being able to attend the show, as he was "doing a turn" elsewhere.
As well as our main annual musical production, 1974 saw the first MAOS pantomime, which has grown over the years and provides much of the finance needed to support our annual running costs.
Our shows continued to be performed at Morley Town Hall until 1992 when we presented South Pacific. After the Thursday performance, (and thankfully during the night) sections of masonry fell from the ceiling and demolished several chairs, forcing the cancellation of the Friday and Saturday performances.
Because we could not be given an accurate timescale for the ceiling repairs, we had to look for an alternative venue for the next show. It was decided that, for the first time ever, we would present our show outside the much loved "Old Morley Borough". A decision was made to stage the 1993 production of Half a Sixpence at the Civic Theatre in Leeds, as no other venue in Morley could meet all the society's requirements.
In 2001 Leeds City Council announced their intention to close the Civic Theatre and convert it into a museum. Despite opposition vigorously led by the Leeds Civic Arts Guild, the Civic Theatre closed in 2005. A replacement theatre was promised and the Guild was instrumental in fighting to protect the welfare of all the societies involved.
Because of uncertainty of a date when the new theatre (later named The Carriageworks) would be open we decided to return to Morley Town Hall in 2005 to present Musical Extravaganza. This was a spectacular compilation of songs, dances and routines from various musicals. This style of production did not need a large set or backcloths and was therefore well suited to the comparatively limited stage facilities. The show was a huge success, and in 2007 we presented Musical Extravaganza 2, and again this was very well received in Morley. Our 2006 production of Crazy For You and Anything Goes in 2008 were both staged in The Carriageworks.
In September 2009 we returned to Morley Town Hall for When The Lights Go On Again, the production in terms of critical acclaim and box office receipts was one of our most successful ever.
Despite the various backstage and front of house limitations, we are delighted that we continue to present our shows in Morley Town Hall.
This year Morley Amateur Operatic Society celebrates its 90th Anniversary, and we are marking the occasion with a Grand Ball to be held at Howley Golf Club in Morley on the 1stof July. We hope that many past and present members will be able to join us in our celebrations.
Coincidentally this year, Steven Holt will celebrate his 90th consecutive show with MAOS, having appeared in every main show and pantomime since he joined for Pickwick in 1972.He is the proud wearer of the NODA Long Service Award with bars signifying 45 years service to Amateur theatre.