Halton Singers – December 2020
Halton Singers started life about fifty years ago at RAF Halton to give the personnel there a chance to sing. It was open to civilians as well as the Service and quickly grew in numbers. After putting on a few musical shows they got more ambitious and embarked down that tried and trusted route of Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. These were put on at the old John Colet School which had a proper stage and lighting before the rebuild. The scenery backdrops were painted by Peter Nichols and Tony Coldwell who put aside being grocers at Nichols stores to paint amazing scenes for us which used to arrive on dozens of rolls of heavy wallpaper to be put together like jigsaw puzzles. Everything from ships at sea to castles and gypsy encampments, nothing seemed beyond them. In those heady days we used to put more than forty people on the stage and sometimes did four performances and a matinée during the show week.
Sadly, like so many other amateur organisations, our numbers dwindled and the cost of putting on shows spiraled. Our last staged production in 2007, Ruddigore, cost over five thousand pounds. Still we went out with a bang as The National Operatic and Dramatic Association awarded us the prestigious Flame Award for our efforts. Though G and S has been our bread and butter we have done many other productions such as Merrie England and Gypsy Baron. One of our most ambitious was Happy as a Sandbag, a wartime revue which had three stages each lit on rotation as scenes were changed.
Nowadays we put on two revues a year at Halton Village Hall. These are intimate evening entertainments with the audience at tables and encouraged to join some of the numbers. It is a format that seems to work well and that we enjoy as much as the audience.
Throughout its existence The Singers have been guided by a bundle of energy called Cherry-Ann Evans. Now it would be ungentlemanly to give away a lady’s age but lets just say the Queen will be sending a letter of congratulation in seven years.
To finish on a happy note, NODA has awarded The Singers The Flame Award again. The citation says it is for Inspirational Contribution to the Pursuit of Excellence In Theatre. Quite a feather in the cap of this small group who have been a part of the fabric of our community for so long.