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Our History

Truro Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society was founded over ninety years ago in 1912. Our first production was a double bill of Trial by Jury and The Old Story at the former Public Rooms in Quay Street.

The Society’s productions soon became popular and in 1920 moved to a larger venue which, under various names (Truro City Hall, Regent Theatre, Hall for Cornwall), has been our main performance venue ever since. In the early years our musical shows were exclusively Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, but in the 1930s there was a move towards more modern musicals, and in 1938 we first employed a professional producer.

During World War II, activities were restricted to a small concert party, but full productions were resumed in 1947 and the following year we first employed Mavis Ward as our producer and choreographer, a role she filled for almost every major show until 1980. Our productions in this period read like a roll call of musical comedy history – Show Boat, Oklahoma, South Pacific, Fiddler on the Roof, The King and I . . .

For many years we rented rehearsal rooms in Pydar Street, but in the 1960s they were acquired for redevelopment. The Society then bought an egg packing station in Redannick Lane, adapting it first as rehearsal space and then as a theatre. This enabled us to build on our traditional pattern of a play in March and a musical in November, to present smaller scale musicals at Redannick Theatre – and eventually to get back to Gilbert and Sullivan! The Carolare, originally a one-off concert in 1965, has also become a regular part of our annual program.

From 1981 to 1999 our principal producer was Joan Boreham. Highlights among her many successful productions were My Fair Lady and West Side Story. In 1993 we first performed at the famous Minack Theatre on the cliffs at Porthcurno, and The Merry Widow in 2004 was our ninth production there.

The last few years have seen new opportunities and challenges – the improved facilities and much larger stage at the new Hall for Cornwall; more serious plays, such as Abelard and Heloise; another open air venue at Trelissick Gardens, which has witnessed both musicals and our first Shakespeare – as well as the oldest challenges of all, to secure a large enough company and a large enough audience!

Did You Know?

Main chorus rehearsal nights were originally Tuesdays. They were changed to Mondays when we rehearsed in Pydar Street because Tuesday was cathedral bell ringing night!

A special general meeting was held in 1936 to dissolve the Society, as the committee considered it impossible to remain viable, production costs for a show having risen to almost £350. The members decided to carry on.

Gordon Hall, accompanist at our first production in 1912, was still MD in the 1950s. His wife Elsie Hall was our producer in the late 1920s and was our senior life member for very many years: she was still traveling from Exeter to see our shows in her 90s and died aged 108.

Griff Sandy wore the same dressing gown to make up in for every production he was in from 1926 to 1980!

When the City Hall was used as a cinema, the stage crew had to work over Saturday night to remove the screen and speakers from the stage ready for the dress rehearsal on the Sunday.

Ros Edwards served as accompanist for every production from 1963 to 2001. She then retired – but we won’t let her go!

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