Whitley Bay Operatic Society

Location North Shields
Contact K Mason & C Riley - wbos1910@gmail.com

Our society began in October 1910 when a small group of friends met with a view to forming an Operatic Society. They successfully gather sufficient numbers and a society was formed in 1911 pioneering operatic societies within the district. They produced Gilbert & Sullivan’s Trial by Jury and HMS Pinafore in the Old Spanish City Hall in 1912.

The founding officers and committee dared not risk any more than three performances initially, however it was a huge success. Vice Presidents and Hon. Members were invited to pay different levels of subscriptions to have their name in the programme and assure them of a number of front seats.Whitley, Monkseaton & District Operatic Society was here to stay and there followed equally successful productions of the Mikado and The Gondaliers.

It was during rehearsals for Merrie England in 1914 that the society was abandoned for five years while the men were called to war, unfortunately two of them did not return. However by September 1919, most of the men had been demobilised and a revival of their successful production of The Mikado went ahead in the Kursaal, Whitley Bay. Lack of stage facilities meant Merrie England was put on hold until 1921 when they were able to go ahead with the production and stage it in the Empress Ballroom.

The society went from strength to strength and marked their 21st Anniversary with a revival of Merrie England in 1932 and a move to the Playhouse Theatre, when the stage was at the opposite end from where it is now.By 1938 the societies name had been amended to Whitley Bay Operatic Society. However, once again the call to war in 1939 meant the society was abandoned until 1945, when once again victory was celebrated with a production of Merrie England.Since then the society has grown in strength and continued to uphold it’s string reputation. The introduction of a second show in 1973 gave the new and young talent a chance to shine with a smaller scale production in the Livingston Hall. This again proved very successful and meant a move to the Playhouse and integration within the main society.

In 1996 Whitley Bay Operatic society took the steps to start its own youth theatre group, aptly named The Next Generation. This group was setup and ran by the societys own members, Offering a place for local youngsters to attend and learn all aspects of theatre craft. 20 years later and The Next Generation is thriving. To find out more select the menu title The Next genreation.