LADOS since 1990

For 1990 the society chose Hello Dolly which provided the men in the society with a fantastic challenge in the Waiter's Gallop... and the props team with making trays containing items which would stand up to the rigours of the dance! However, all rose admirably to the challenge, and a wonderful show ensued.

1991 was our Centenary Year and our production for that special year was The Merry Widow which provided many roles for all ages. Following the final night, a Gala Evening was held in the Banqueting Suite at Lancaster Town Hall. It was lovely to see so many familiar faces from amongst LADOS members past and present, together with several officials from NODA, especially as LADOS was a founding member of NODA at the end of the 19th century.

There is an old saying, "never work with children or animals" but LADOS ignored that in 1992 when they chose Oliver as their annual production, as there were several small boys in the cast, plus the undoubted star of the show Clemmie, an English Bull Terrier belonging to the family of a former member of the society. She had the most challenging role, as by nature she was a real softie, who had to play Bill Sikes' vicious brute of a dog, Bullseye. She went on stage each night right on cue (although not always in the right direction) following a biscuit rolled on to the stage by her 'minder' from the wings!

In 1993 LADOS staged the exciting new musical Grease which again saw an influx of new young members, and the lively musical numbers brought back many happy memories for those who were 'coming of age' in the 1950's.

Two years later, in 1995 we tried something rather daring and more than a little bit different with La Cage aux Folles. Some of the lads were a little worried that they might become typecast, but they kept the audience guessing each night until the end of the show when their true gender was revealed.

The following year was a coup for the Society when we were finally given permission to stage Jesus Christ Superstar at the Grand Theatre. Chris 'Pom' Riley had been trying to obtain permission for us to put on this show, but always the answer came back the same, "that it was only released to school or church groups and not amateur societies". He often said, "If they don't hurry up and let us do this show, I'll be up there with Him." Sadly, this was indeed the case, but we were eventually given the permission we required, on the condition that it was billed as a 'Tribute to Christopher (Pom) Riley', which we were delighted to comply with.

Six years later, our then Chairman, Michael Orr, a long time chorister at Lancaster Priory, thought it would be a good idea to stage Jesus Christ Superstar in the beautiful setting of the Priory Church. The idea was approved by the church representatives and the LADOS general committee, and permission was again granted from Superstar Ventures Ltd. In February 2002 the Priory was transformed into ancient Israel for this extremely moving interpretation of the last seven days in the life of Jesus Christ.

LADOS 2004 Production of 'Chess'
LADOS 2004 Production of 'Chess'

Following on from Kiss Me Kate in 2003, another first for LADOS was the production of Chess in 2004. [View Gallery: Dress Rehearsal] This was the first time Roger Bradley had produced a show for LADOS, and what a superb job he did. The sets were minimalistic, the lighting set the many different moods perfectly, and the music was in turn, funny, stirring and very moving.

Our 2005 production once again was a first for LADOS with Anything Goes. Cole Porter musicals were enjoying a revival, a fact which we took full advantage of. Rehearsals started in September 2004, and were hard work, but lots of fun, and we hope that our audiences enjoyed watching the show as much as the company have enjoyed staging it. For our 2006 production, we once again became the first amateur society to be given the rights to stage a musical which is new to the Lancaster & Morecambe area. This show was Hot Mikado, based on Gilbert & Sullivan's "The Mikado".

For this version, however, the action is transported from ancient Japan to 1940's America, and many of the musical numbers have been given the jazz/swing/gospel treatment, with the Three Little Maids sounding very much like The Andrews Sisters! The rest of the score has been left very much as G & S wrote it, which will hopefully appeal to the true G & S aficionados.

Richard Prescott (Motel in Fiddler on the Roof) with Peggy Brierley
Richard Prescott (Motel in Fiddler on the Roof) with Peggy Brierley

Our 2007 production was Fiddler on the Roof which sadly marked the end of an era for LADOS, as Peggy Brierley decided to hang up her producer's whistle and take a well-earned retirement. However she went out on a high, with a production which was both wonderfully funny, and often quite poignant, and as usual, she brought out the best in the cast, augmented on this occasion by the Orlyk Ukraine Dancers, who performed the very complicated "Bottle dance", as well as appearing as Russian soldiers in several other scenes.

Sadly, during rehearsals for this show which, as a committee member he helped to choose, Roger Bradley passed away after a long illness. Roger was a much loved and sorely missed stalwart of LADOS, playing many and varied leading roles, the most memorable being Jesus in both LADOS' productions of "Jesus Christ Superstar" during the 20 years he was a member, as well as producing our 2004 production of "Chess"

In 2008, we were pleased to welcome back a former society member Tony Hindle, to produce Singin' in the Rain for us. His was a completely different approach to producing, and it was rather a baptism of fire for him with this very challenging show, complete with rain making machinery, and lots of complicated scene changes to deal with. However, under his direction, LADOS pulled off yet another triumphant production, with many favourable comments from the audiences.

LADOS 2009 Production of 'Carousel'
LADOS 2009 Production of 'Carousel'

Tony was again in charge of our 2009 production of the old Rodgers and Hammerstein favourite, Carousel which brought in several new younger members to the society, as well as seeing the welcome return of some former members. This production was wonderfully energetic, and the cast did full justice to the well known and much loved musical numbers. Unfortunately, for one member of the cast each performance was something of a trial, for our Billy Bigelow (Paul Atkinson) is a staunch Everton fan, and had to pretend to lie dead on stage whilst two of the leading ladies sang "You'll Never Walk Alone" over his 'body'!

Thankfully this didn't put Paul off coming along for our 2010 production of The Pajama Game when he took the role of Sid Sorokin, again under the direction of Tony Hindle. This particular show was last produced by LADOS in 1967, but in 2009/10 rehearsals were certainly unconventional, with Tony leaping on and off tables to demonstrate how he wanted various scenes to be played. Fortunately, he came to no harm, and the results of these energetic demonstrations were fully evident in this lively production.

LADOS 2011 Production of 'Pirates of Penzance'
LADOS 2011 Production of 'Pirates of Penzance'

2011 sees the 120th anniversary of LADOS, the oldest society in the area still in existence. For this production we have another change of director, as Bryan Wood has swapped his many on-stage roles, for the opportunity to take charge of our production of Pirates of Penzance. This was first produced by LADOS in 1893, their third ever show, and again in 1952.

For the 2012 production, the general committee chose to reprise Guys and Dolls which the society last performed in 1998. Following on from the 2011 show, with Bryan Wood as producer once again, this was a lively show, with fun rehearsals, and a couple of new faces in the main leads i.e. Ryan Butterworth as Sky Masterson and Lizzee Weedy as Sarah Brown!  Another new face for this production was Glen Hanmer, who, having played the role the previous year for Kendal, stepped into the part of Nicely, Nicely Johnson, and stole the show with his rendition of "Sit down, you're rocking the boat".

LADOS 2013 Production of 'The Producers'
LADOS 2013 Production of 'The Producers'

2013 saw LADOS trying something new, by choosing the Tony Award Winning Musical, The Producers as their May production. Bryan Wood was once again at the helm, and another season of lively rehearsals ensued. Glen Hanmer played the part of Max Bialystock with great humour, and was the perfect partner for another newcomer to the society, James Shields, as Leopold Bloom. It was a difficult show to sell, as it had never been produced in the Lancaster and Morecambe area before, but it proved very popular, with many members of the public who saw the show at the beginning of the week buying tickets to see the show again, consequently the Saturday night was a near sell-out!

For some years, LADOS had been trying to obtain the rights to Grease which LADOS had last performed in 1993. With this being our second show of 2013, rehearsals started just two weeks after "The Producers" finished. Two members of the 1993 cast of "Grease", Suzanne Ward (Frenchie) and Sarah Pye (Rizzo) expressed an interest in jointly producing the show, and were duly appointed, and then the intense period of rehearsal began. "Grease" proved to be very popular at the box office, and the number of tickets sold increased as the week went on, with all seats sold on the Friday and Saturday evenings.

LADOS 2014 Production of 'Oliver'
LADOS 2014 Production of 'Oliver'

Oliver was the choice of show for 2014, again under the direction of Sarah and Suzanne, and auditions were duly held for the youngsters in the cast at the end of November, and after much deliberation, two teams of 18 to19 young boys (and girls) were chosen to make up the workhouse kids, and Fagin's gang. Adult auditions were equally challenging for the casting committee, as the level of talent was enormous. Eventually, all roles were cast, and rehearsals began in earnest at the beginning of January 2014.

The next member of the cast to be sought out, was an English Bull Terrier to play the part of Bill Sikes' dog, Bullseye. Fortunately, Sarah had a neighbour, who just happened to have such an animal, and so Sykes the dog came along to rehearsals, to meet Bill Sikes who was to be his (temporary) master. It was love at first sight, and Sikes and Sykes became inseparable throughout rehearsals and all 6 performances. Mind you, that could have had something to do with the pocket full of doggy treats which John Haydock (Sikes) carried with him at all times!

All the hard work paid off, because in May 2014, "Oliver" played to excellent houses, and the Saturday Matinee and evening performances were only a few tickets each short of a full house!

LADOS 2015 Production of 'Hairspray'
LADOS 2015 Production of 'Hairspray'

Rehearsals started in earnest for Hairspray in the autumn of 2014 and the first rehearsal saw a record number of prospective cast members turn out. Holly Brown, who was appointed as choreographer, put them all through their paces with "You can't stop the beat" which went down a storm! Most of the people who came to that first rehearsal, turned up again in subsequent weeks, so the rigorous dance routine obviously didn't put too many of them off!  

Auditions were held a couple of weeks later, and Holly was appointed as Tracey Turnblad, with newcomer to LADOS, Robbie Love as her mum Edna Turnblad, and John Haydock as her dad, Wilbur Turnblad. Mandie Doherty got the part of Maybelle Motormouth due to her superb rendition of "I know where I've been" plus her ability to really get into the character of Motormouth.  

For the first time in many years, this was the first time we sold all but a few tickets for opening night, and as the week progressed, and word got round about how fantastic this show was, ticket sales picked up even more, with the final 3 performances being a total sell-out, with each performance receiving a standing ovation! Follow that, as they say, and we know we have our work cut out to select a show which will have similar results to Hairspray.

LADOS 2016 Production of 'The Witches of Eastwick'
LADOS 2016 Production of 'The Witches of Eastwick'

One of the biggest problems for amateur societies, is the lack of new shows which are available to them, as many are either withdrawn due to a professional tour, or they are partially withdrawn, with preference given to either schools or small church groups. After much deliberation, given the shortage of available shows, the committee finally decided to apply for a licence to produce The Witches of Eastwick which had never been performed in this area before. Then came the initial hard work of sourcing costumes, scenery, props and, oh yes, a company to supply the necessary equipment to 'fly' the three witches! Whoever said that producing an amateur show was easy?

LADOS 2016 Production of 'The Witches of Eastwick'
LADOS 2016 Production of 'The Witches of Eastwick'

Sarah decided to take some time off to be with her family, so Suzanne 'flew solo' for this production, with additional help from husband Kevin. After several months of rehearsals, with Robbie Love switching from his 2015 role as Edna Turnblad, to that of the 'Horny Little Devil', Darryl Van Horne, and Holly Brown, Mandie Doherty and Claire Savage as the three witches, Alexa, Jane and Suki respectively, the show went on in early May 2016. Unfortunately, although it was very well received by those who did come to see it, the audience numbers came nowhere near those for Hairspray. 

At the post-show general committee meeting, it was decided that we would re-visit a show we last produced in 1987, namely West Side Story. This show had been proposed several times in recent years, but usually a newer show became available, and was selected instead, but in the absence of any other suitable shows, this became the choice for our 2017 production. Once again, the producer and assistant producer will be Suzanne and Kevin Ward, and it will be just 30 years since Suzanne's mother, Peggy Brierley last produced this show for LADOS, when Suzanne herself played Graziella, one of the Jet's girls.

'The Jets' from LADOS 2017 Production of 'West Side Story'
'The Jets' from LADOS 2017 Production of 'West Side Story'

The next problem was, where were we going to get young men, in particular, who could act, sing and move well? Fortunately, our worries were unfounded, and we were able to put together a wonderful cast. We welcomed several newcomers to the society, namely Alec Taylor (Tony), Catherine Andrews (Maria), Santiago Acevedo (Bernardo) and Matthew Swan (Riff), together with regular society member Ashleigh Hartin as Anita, and the rest of the cast was made up of a mix of members both old and new.

'The Sharks' from LADOS 2017 Production of 'West Side Story'
'The Sharks' from LADOS 2017 Production of 'West Side Story'

Rehearsals were intense but fun-filled, for this lively production, with choreographer Holly Brown putting everyone through their paces, Suzanne and Kevin Ward directing the acting, and Angela Potter making sure that the vocal ability of the cast, and the quality of the orchestra  was spot-on, thus ensuring that the end result was a resounding success with the local audiences.

Several shows were put forward to the committee to choose from for our 2018 production, but for various reasons most were rejected, which just left a revival of a show we last produced in 2003, namely Kiss Me, Kate, although this would be the 'Revised Version' of the show.  


Rehearsals, once again were an absolute blast, and we were delighted to welcome back James Shields as our male lead Fred Graham/Petruchio. We were also very lucky to cast newcomer Jessie Turton as Lili Vanessi/Kate, with Ashleigh Hartin and Sam Wicks as Lois Lane/Bianca and Bill Calhoun/Lucentio respectively. During the rehearsal period, the society adopted the Morecambe Bay Foodbank as their preferred charity for 2017/2018, and as well as charity buckets put out at each rehearsal, there were two food collections, one just before Christmas, and the other in April 2018, both of which were very well supported by the cast. A bucket collection was also held at the end of each performance, so we hope we will have been able to help make some difference to the lives of the people who need to use the foodbank.


Our Secretary, Audrey Tarney, got wind that Jesus Christ Superstar was available on limited release, and after checking with the committee, she put in an application for us to make this our 2019 show. After an anxious wait, we received word from the rights holders that our application had been successful, and rehearsals commenced in November 2018. As this is an all-singing show, our MD Angela Potter has been busy putting the cast through their vocal paces, and directors Suzanne and Kevin Ward, are putting their own stamp on the staging of this iconic musical. As usual, rehearsals have been full of fun, as well as lots of dedicated hard work, from everyone involved in this production.

JCS was originally only licensed for amateur performances, by either schools or church groups, but LADOS were the first local amateur musical society to be granted the rights to perform this show in a theatre, back in 1996, and this was followed up in 2002 with a performance in Lancaster's Priory Church. Both shows were produced by Suzanne's mother, Peggy Brierley, and in both productions, the role of Jesus was taken by the late Roger Bradley, and it is in his memory that our nominated charity for this year is the Rosemere Cancer Foundation.

Cabaret at the NODA 2019 Presidential Gala, September 2019
Cabaret at the NODA 2019 Presidential Gala, September 2019

LADOS were invited to perform at the NODA Presidential Gala Dinner held in the Floral Hall at the Southport Theatre complex in September 2019. Members proudly took to the stage to perform a several musical numbers from Jesus Christ Superstar, A Chorus Line, The Witches of Eastwick, La Cage aux Folles and Hairspray to celebrate the joint history that NODA and LADOS share, with LADOS being the founder member in 1899.

Following JCS, another audience and cast favourite was chosen - Hairspray - with Holly Brown reprising her role as Tracy Turnblad. Unfortunately, on 17th March 2020, with rehearsals in full swing and just seven weeks until opening night the decision was taken to postpone due to the oncoming COVID pandemic. We had hoped to stage the show later in the year and even moved it into our May 2021 slot. However circumstances ultimately led us to take the very difficult decision to fully cancel the production.

Rehearsals underway for 'Elf The Musical'
Rehearsals underway for 'Elf The Musical'

With pandemic restrictions continuing into 2021, this year along with 2020 were to be the first time since 1920 that LADOS had not staged at least one show each year. We even took to the stage throughout the Second World War! By Summer 2021 we felt confident enough to start planning for a January 2022 production of Elf, The Musical. A really fun show to help lift spirits of cast and audience alike and the perfect show to return to the stage of the Lancaster Grand - the first amateur dramatics society to do so since before the pandemic. This was also to be the LADOS debut for our amazing new musical director Anna Scott.


No sooner had Santa and his little helpers left Lancaster and we were at it again. The production team jumped back into action and with just a three month rehearsal period, Tim Firth and Gary Barlow's Calendar Girls The Musical opened to great acclaim.

LADOS and AmDram were well and truly back at the Lancaster Grand!


For 2023 we were to continue with the 'sisterly' theme but swap Knapely for San Francisco for Sister Act The Musical. The amazing cast raised their voices and took audiences to heaven.

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