On Saturday evening of June 7, over 100 members past and present of Horsham Operatic and Dramatic Society, better known as HAODS, held a ball at the Drill Hall to celebrate their 60th anniversary.
The vintage style invitations designed by HAODS member Becky Munden, invited guests to wear 1950s clothing, reflecting the era when HAODS was a small group specialising in Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, performed at the old Theatre Royal, behind the Stout House in the Carfax.
Unsurprisingly for a dramatic society the members turned out for the ball in full vintage regalia, making it a very glamorous evening. There was food, drink and dancing, and the opportunity to have your photograph taken at the 1950’s beauty parlour!
Since the 1950s, HAODS have put on literally hundreds of shows and the standard has been consistently high. Their recent productions of ‘Sweeney Todd’ and ‘The Sound of Music’ received rave reviews and were compared to West End standards.
A grateful public was delighted to have the opportunity to see attend high quality musicals at their local Capitol theatre.HAODS have got much to celebrate, but their 60th anniversary year is also tinged with anxiety and sadness.
For the last 25 years they have made full use of their wonderful rehearsal premises at Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre.
The rehearsal room is the same size as the stage at the Capitol; they have a full size scenery dock; extensive and fully used storage facilities for costumes and props and a thriving Green Room.
The Green Room is decorated on a ‘Musicals’ theme, light refreshments are served, raising money for society funds. Unfortunately the Council plan to demolish the Leisure Centre and have not included HAODS in their plans for the new one.
At the ball, HAODS chairman, Barry Syder said: “It is wonderful to see so many people here tonight, but we must make the Council aware of how precious an asset HAODS is to the Horsham community.”
The value of HAODS to Horsham was also reflected in the society’s current President, Sir Michael Checkland’s speech. HAODS membership numbers 110 and there is also a thriving ‘Young HAODS’ section.
Long standing member Jane O’Sullivan said: “Much of the night’s success was down to the organisation of some of the younger members who feel just as strongly as the veterans about the past and future of HAODS.”
Ironically the Council have suggested that HAODS might be able to use the Drill Hall, where the 60th ball was held, for their rehearsals but this would only be on certain nights of the week and with limited storage facilities.
The Green Room which is at the heart of HAODS House would be lost and the regular social events would be in jeopardy.
In the immediate future, HAODS are working towards their productions of ‘The Rivals’, June 25-28, and ‘Hello, Dolly!’, November 11-15, both to be staged at The Capitol.
They are also holding regular open mic nights for members at HAODS House, through which they have raised money for Street Life, a charity run by one of the members which helps street children in India http://www.streetlifeindia.co.uk/
Report and picture contributed by HAODS.