Discover the exciting history of LADOS over the years since the foundation of our society in 1891

100 years of LADOS

Lancaster Amateur Dramatic Society (as it was first known) was formed on Monday, January 26th 1891 when a number of gentlemen met in the office of Mr. E. G. Clark and elected Sir Thomas Storey as the first President. On March 16th 1891 two productions, 'Blow for Blow' and 'Ici Un Parle' were performed at the Athenaeum, (renamed the Grand Theatre in 1908).

The Grand Theatre, Lancaster
The Grand Theatre, Lancaster
The Grand Theatre, Lancaster
The Grand Theatre, Lancaster

In those days Drama Societies often progressed to Gilbert and Sullivan Operettas and L.A.D.S. was no exception, H.M.S. Pinafore being produced in April 1892. By 1894 it was decided that as musical works were now the principal feature of the society's activity a change of name was necessary and on March 29th 1894 the members approved the new name should be 'Lancaster Amateur Dramatic and Operatic Society'. Up to the outbreak of the First World War Gilbert and Sullivan Operettas were interspersed with shows such as 'Dorothy', 'Falka', 'Merrie England' and 'Miss Hook of Holland'. A visit to the theatre was a great social occasion as different nights were under the patronage of various groups. There was Hunt Night, Golf Night, Military Night and President's Night and to facilitate travelling, special trains were arranged with L&NW, Midland and Furness Railway Companies, on one occasion the Society had to agree to cover the costs if the rail tickets sold did not amount to £2!

The cessation of the war saw a revival of musical activities. With Mr. C. R. Tomlinson as Musical Director and Mr. B. J. Vince as Producer, 'Cingalee' and 'The Belle of Brittany' were produced in the Ashton Hall before returning to the Grand Theatre with 'The Marriage Market' in 1922. In 1924 'The Arcadians' was staged in spite of the fact that on the eve of the production it was discovered that the scenery had been let by the owners to two societies playing the same week! But the show must go on and L.A.D.O.S. eventually received the scenery from the Shaftesbury Theatre, London.

1924 was notable also for the arrival on the amateur scene of Mr. Chris Riley. He joined the Society in that year playing first in the chorus then moving on to principal roles and finally taking over as Producer in 1932 with the show 'A Southern Maid'. With very many excellent shows to his credit, 44 years as Honorary Secretary and in our Centenary Year as President no wonder he was known as Mr L.A.D.O.S.

Two highlights of the next few years was the production in 1936 of 'Showboat' thought at the time to be too difficult for Amateurs due to the casting and staging difficulties, and in 1937 the first Amateur production of 'Royal Exchange', when the Society was honoured by the presence of the composer Mr. Edward Horan and representatives of Messrs Chappell & Co. and other London theatrical houses.

Custom House, Lancaster
Custom House, Lancaster
Custom House, Lancaster
Custom House, Lancaster

During the Second World War period the Society carried on its activities albeit on a smaller scale but just as enthusiastically, with Revues, again in the Ashton Hall and also Concert Parties which toured the villages using a special stage 'fit up' devised by Mr. Riley.

In 1944 L.A.D.O.S. was granted a long term lease of the Custom House. This enabled the Society to make alterations to the inside converting it into a mini theatre with a stage and seating capacity of sixty. Once again the Drama side of the Society began to flourish. One Act and Three Act plays were rehearsed and then put on for members and friends before being subsequently entered in Drama Festivals. Perhaps the most notable play was 'Uncle Harry' 1947-48 which reached the National finals of the British Drama League. The Custom House was home to L.A.D.O.S. for 40 years until the building became the Maritime Museum.

1955 marked the start of a new era with the release for amateurs of many of the Broadway Musicals which had reached the London stage, 'Oklahoma', 'South Pacific', 'Carousel', 'Brigadoon', and the challenging 'West Side Story', all great hits. If only the present shows were as suitable for amateurs! 'Fiddler on the Roof' in 1973 was the last production for Mr. Riley and with his usual skill and flair it was a memorable show.

A few more Operatic shows followed in the 70's with 'Die Fledermaus' and 'Orpheus' amongst others and then in 1985 'Annie' burst upon the scene showing the versatility of the Society. Many younger members joined and have happily stayed and so enabled us to present 'West Side Story' '87 and 'Seven Brides for Seven Brothers' '89.

LADOS Presidents

President Service Years
Sylvia Rogerson current 2023 ...
David Brierley 6 years 2017 - 2023
Frank Dewhurst 3 years 2014 - 2017
Alan Hargreaves 3 years 2011 - 2014
Peggy Brierley 3 years 2008 - 2011
Malcolm McIllmurray 2 years 2006 - 2008
David Brierley 2 years 2004 - 2006
Nola Statter 2 years 2002 - 2004
Irene Bell & Maureen Watson 2 years 2000 - 2002
Chris Riley Jnr. 2 years 1998 - 2000
John Morrell 2 years 1996 - 1998
Colin Whiteside 2 years 1994 - 1996
William (Bill) Pearson 2 years 1992 - 1994
Chris Riley 2 years 1990 - 1992
Coun. John Ball 2 years 1989 - 1990
Margaret Hartley 2 years 1987 - 1988
No President 1 years 1986 - 1986
Betty Pimbley 14 years 1973 - 1985
H. B. Richmond Esq. 5 years 1968 - 1972
J. C. Higginson Esq. 6 years 1962 - 1967
Alderman Norman Gorrill J.P. 7 years 1955 - 1961
Mrs. Musgrave Hoyle 14 years 1941 - 1955
Col. G. W. Sharpe O.B.E. 15 years 1926 - 1941
Edmund Sharpe Esq. 15 years 1911 - 1926
C. John Clarke Esq. 11 years 1900 - 1911
Dr. Irvin 4 years 1896 - 1900
M. J. Denny Esq. 3 years 1893 - 1896
Sir Thomas Storey 2 years 1891 - 1893

LADOS Productions

Year Show
2024Anything Goes
2023Sister Act
2022Calendar Girls: The Musical
2022Elf The Musical
2019Jesus Christ Superstar
2018Kiss Me, Kate
2017West Side Story
2016The Witches of Eastwick
2013The Producers
2012Guys and Dolls
2011The Pirates of Penzance (Broadway Version)
2010The Pajama Game
2008Singin' in the Rain
2007Fiddler on the Roof
2006Hot Mikado
2005Anything Goes
2003Kiss Me, Kate
2002The Sound of Music
2002Jesus Christ Superstar
2001My Fair Lady
2000Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
1999La Cage Aux Folles
1998Guys and Dolls
1997A Chorus Line
1996Jesus Christ Superstar
1995La Cage Aux Folles
1991The Merry Widow
1990Hello Dolly!
1989Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
1987West Side Story
1986Half a Sixpence
1984La Belle Helene
1983Orpheus in the Underworld
1982The Lilac Domino
1981Kiss Me, Kate
1980Free As Air
1979The Sound of Music
1978The Merry Widow
1977No No Nanette
1976Anne of Green Gables
1976The Count of Luxembourg
1975Die Fledermaus
1974Guys and Dolls
1973Fiddler on the Roof
1972South Pacific
1971The King and I
1970The Sound of Music
1970The Vagabond King
1969Kiss Me, Kate
1967The Pajama Game
1966Guys and Dolls
1964West Side Story
1962The Lisbon Story
1961White Horse Inn
1960Free As Air
1959The Merry Widow
1956South Pacific
1954Relative Values
1954The Gondoliers
1953Bitter Sweet
1952Trial By Jury / Pirates of Penzance
1951The Maid of the Mountains
1950The Yeomen of the Guard
1949Rain on the Just
1949The Mikado
1948Wild Violets
1947The Vagabond King
1946Bitter Sweet
1945Jupiter Laughs
1944LADOS All-Sorts
1943LADOS Time
1942LADOS Calling
1941Laughter Parade
1940Going Greek
1939Tulip Time
1938Viktoria and Her Hussar
1937Royal Exchange
1936Show Boat
1935The New Moon
1934Viktoria and Her Hussar
1932A Southern Maid
1931The Pearl Girl
1930The Belle of New York
1929The Cabaret Girl
1928The Dollar Princess
1927Miss Hook of Holland
1925Gipsy Love
1924The Arcadians
1922The Marriage Market
1921The Belle of Brittany
1919The Cingalee
1914Trial by Jury
1914Miss Hook of Holland
1913La Poupee
1912A Country Girl
1909The Yeomen of the Guard
1908The Rose of Persia
1907Merrie England
1905The Gondoliers
1904The Mikado
1897The Yeomen of the Guard
1894Les Cloches de Corneville
1893The Pirates of Penzance
1892H.M.S. Pinafore
1948I Have Five Daughters
1899H.M.S. Pinafore
1903Les Cloches de Corneville
1950The Gioconda Smile
1952Jupiter Laughs
1953The Hollow
1948Uncle Harry
1945Call it a Day
1946The Last of Mrs Cheyney
1955As Long As They're Happy