“Kids need to bin the X-box and discover the magic of the stage...”

A scene from Preston Gilbert and Sullivan Society production of Gilbert and Sullivan's The Sorcerer at Preston Playhouse

A scene from Preston Gilbert and Sullivan Society production of Gilbert and Sullivan's The Sorcerer at Preston Playhouse

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Rosie Swarbrick hears Preston Gilbert and Sullivan Society’s production of The Sorcerer at Preston Playhouse

One of the key players in Preston’s musical theatre scene is celebrating its 60th year.

The Preston Gilbert and Sullivan society marked its sixth decade with a performance of The Sorcerer at the Preston Playhouse.

And chairman Robert Feeley believes the recession brought a new element to the performance.

He said: “We’ve had to make budget cuts this year and so the cast had to fork out and scout out their own costumes.

“But the directors felt that has helped everyone get into character, everything clicked this year it was such a passionate performance.”

Robert has been a member of the MODA-affiliated society since 1989 and is due to receive his 25-year badge.

He said: “We have some more thoughts and ideas in the pipeline to celebrate the 60th anniversary, but you will have to wait and see.

“We are lucky in Preston because there is a good variety of musical theatre – Preston Opera do serious opera, Preston Musical Comedy Society are light hearted musical theatre and we are somewhere in the middle.”

Gilbert and Sullivan produced traditional English comedy and the club was started up by Eric Hindle in 1954.

G&S were a British pair who collaborated to produce 14 comic operas in the Victorian era and Robert believes their work still has resonance today.

He said: “They made jokes of class and the political scene – a lot of their humour still fits today’s society.”

The society performs once every year and its next performance will be a Gilbert and Sullivan classic – the Pirates of Penzance. But Robert wants more young people to embrace the theatre and join their thriving society.

He said: “There is something magical about the theatre – it cannot be beaten.

“Kids need to step away from their X-box and the TV and embrace the stage.

“People are afraid to try it, they think it will be too testing.

“I won’t lie it is hard, very hard. And in our society you have to be able to sing, act and move.

“But we always embrace new members and anyone who is up for a challenge.”

Keeley Lund joined the society in September 2013 and The sorcerer was her first performance with Preston GASS.

She said: “ It is one of the friendliest musical groups I’ve ever performed with – and I’ve been doing am-dram for 30 years now!

“I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much whilst rehearsing for a show.”

Keeley believes the only theatre-based Gilbert and Sullivan society in Preston is unique because of its location.

She said: “Being able to support the wonderful Preston Playhouse is a bonus.

“Not many musical societies have their own theatre staffed by volunteers.

“Everyone who comes to see a performance comment on what a lovely space it is – a real gem in the city.”

For more information or if you wish to join the society see: www.prestongass.co.uk.