Monday 21 October 2019

Gorey Musical Society sees challenges ahead for its future survival

Each show can cost close to €50,000

Members of Gorey Musical Society performing Calamity Jane earlier this year
Members of Gorey Musical Society performing Calamity Jane earlier this year

Cathy Lee

Fears are present for the future of Gorey Musical Society as the newly elected committee have expressed their concerns that financial challenges and uncertainty lay ahead.

'Although our musical Calamity Jane this year was a great success, increasing costs for set design, orchestration, costumes, theatre hire and production rights are now making it more difficult to cover our costs,' said newly elected chairperson Thelma Rath.

'We were delighted to have announced that our next show will be the fabulous Hairspray, that will be going ahead next year please God. As this is our intention, we need to gather up money to get things going. We want to thank sincerely the business community especially over the years and the people of Gorey and surrounding areas too for all their support, without which we would not have been able to put on our show each year.

Gorey Musical Society will be holding various fundraising events starting from the end of the week.

A night of musical hits will take place on Saturday, October 5 at the Ashdown Park Hotel, performed by past and present members of the society featuring a host of hits from new musicals as well as some classic favourites.

There will be a pop up shop at the Market House building daily from Monday, October 7 to Saturday, October 12.

All are welcome to come along to Kilanerin Hall on Friday, October 11 from 9 p.m. for social dancing with music provided by Limelite.

'We are not a profit making organisation, we just want to be able to have enough money to keep it going for the town, because it's so important. Gorey Musical Society is unique, it is one of the few organisations in Gorey where participation can sow the seeds to a promising career,' said Thelma, who first got involved in the society in 1966.

'Over the past 55 years many Gorey Musical Society members have gone on to pursue a career in theatre, from acting, singing, orchestra, choreography, sound, lighting, stage management, set design, educating and directing. Anyone who has been with us has always came back and given us a hand. If these people become a professional choreographer or director, you try to employ them for your show at some stage.

'For Gorey Musical Society to continue its proud tradition of fostering local talent, we need the help of the community.

Thelma explained that over the years, all ages have been catered for depending on the show.

'It's a great outlet for people and it's social before everything else. If you're a new person coming in to the town, it's a great way of getting to know people. You don't have to be a great singer, you can do backstage, join the chorus, help with make up and costumes or even just the selling of tickets or booklets.

Vice chairperson Carmel Byrne highlighted insurance and a lack of permanent premises as key factors in ongoing expenses for the society.

'Everything is getting so expensive and even though we have never made a claim, the insurance jumped this year and that mainly comes down to the fact that we are homeless, we don't have a premises. We have to hire a theatre and rehearsal venues.

'With being in one place one night and another the next night, we have a big insurance policy for us to move around. Having no home has been our main problem over the years and only for the local businesses, we wouldn't have survived. It costs somewhere between €46,000 and €50,000 to put on a musical, people don't realise that.

Uncertainty also exists around how Brexit might have an affect on hiring costumes.

'There's not an awful lot of costume makers in the republic, so we have to go further afield. In the last few years our costumes have come from Scotland and with Brexit coming we don't know how much that's going to cost in terms of tax,' said Carmel.

'Some years ago we had a semi permanent place to keep our costumes and props like chairs and tables, and people used to leave us in different types of costumes like suits, wedding and evening dresses. After we lost that space, kindly provided to us by Anne Sheeran, we had to sell off the costumes.

Both Carmel and Thelma agreed that the future of Gorey Musical Society lies in the hands of the people of Gorey.

'We need all the punters to help us now. Coming up, we have our concert that will showcase all the hits from musicals gone by. We have a brilliant line up and we need people to buy tickets for that. Then we have the social dancing in Kilanerin and the pop up shop. We would ask people to please put our fundraising events in their diary,' said Thelma.

Gorey Guardian