The formation of Sodbury Vale Operatic Society in 1967 was a result of the collaboration between two policemen and the headmaster of a local secondary school. The first performance was of Gilbert and Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore in spring 1968. The headmaster took on the musical director’s role and another schoolmaster and goalkeeper for a local football team, became the producer. The show was performed at the school with tickets being £1.10 shillings whilst the programme was sixpence! From that beginning a “G & S” operetta was performed in the spring of each year. The musical accompaniment, in that inaugural year was one piano, which by the third year had doubled to two, whilst in the fourth year a 22 piece orchestra was formed by the then musical director.
In 1974 the “G &S” operettas were replaced by musical comedy and the name of the club changed to Sodbury Vale Musical Comedy Club. By 1976 the orchestra was no longer viable and accompaniment changed to a piano. From 1983 the club performed two shows a year at the Town Hall in Chipping Sodbury, and over the years has presented most of the well known musicals, ‘Guys and Dolls’, ‘My Fair Lady’, ‘Oklahoma’, ‘Oliver’, ‘Hello Dolly’, ‘South Pacific’, ‘Charlie Girl’, ‘Blitz’, ‘Sound of Music’ – to name but a few. When ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ was performed in the Autumn of 2006 the club was awarded the Regional Award for Excellence and the leading lady in that production was nominated for a Rose Bowl Award, a rare distinction.
However, the second show planned for Autumn 2007 had to be cancelled owing to a fall in membership and a general lack of commitment. An extraordinary general meeting was held, a new committee formed who worked tirelessly to find a new scenery store, built on the core nucleus of people, attracted a few old members back and a ‘Ruby’ celebration show was staged in April 2008 entitled ‘Life Begins ….’ – which was described as “a journey through the life of the club’s history and hopefully taking us to a place we can be in the future”. This was a testing time but rehearsals were fun and the show – a mixture of the past and what we hoped could be the future – very well received with good reviews. In 2009 the club performed ‘Hot Mikado’ followed in 2010 by ‘The Wiz’ but sadly our cast members and houses were in decline, so in order to raise some funds in November we went ‘on tour’ with a ‘Showstoppers Concert’ which was well supported in both Coalpit Heath and Winterbourne! This brings us up to date and in May 2011 we put on ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie’ which has proved to be one of our most successful shows over the last few years with better houses and once again an orchestra comprising 10 musicians in the pit. We are very indebted to so many people who have worked extremely hard to support us and we are now looking forward to taking on some fundraising productions in an attempt to build up our finances for the main spring show.
Audiences have been entertained on no less than 69 occasions and we have members aged from 14 to 80. Not only do we pursue the objects of the club laid down in our constitution – “to promote, improve, develop and maintain public education in and appreciation of the art and science of musical comedy in all its aspects by the presentation of public performances” – but we learn how to act, how to sing, how to dance, how to work as a team and to promote interpersonal skills between all ages, to build in confidence and of course rehearsals although hard work – are a lot of fun – climaxing in a thrilling show ‘week’ of 4 or 5 performances in front of a live audience.