In 1897, St Mary's
Church in Cowes had a Restoration Fund to raise money for necessary
work on its foundations. It was decided to hold a concert. That
performance proved so popular that it was decided to be a little
more ambitious and to stage a musical play.. and that's how the
Cowes Amateur Operatic Society came into being. Later, when it
began to stage dramatic plays in addition to musicals its title
was expanded to the one more usually referred to today as CAODS.
Its first performance
in 1898 was The Mandarin and that set the scene for this
little village amateur company to stage musicals, operettas, plays
and concerts right up to the present day. There was inevitably
a break in the run of continuous performances during the war years
- though even those dark days have left a legacy to the theatre
in the shape of the Trinity Ghost.
In 1998 the Society
celebrated its Centenary and that auspicious occasion was marked
by the preparation of a book charting the history and every performance
of the Society. There are very few amateur operatic and dramatic
societies who can boast of a history as long and as varied as
CAODS. In 1906 the Society performed the musical DOROTHY
before Queen Victoria's daughter Princess Beatrice (who became
the Society's Patron), the King of Spain and the Royal Court attendants.
King Alfonso was to have been accompanied by Princess Ena of Battenburg
, to whom he was bethrowed, but she was indisposed. Quite a coup
for a quiet village amateur group.
There have been other
landmark performances. CAODS was the first amateur company to
be granted the performing rights for the first amateur premier
of 'ALLO 'ALLO - the hit TV comedy show. The Society took
its production of PYGMALION to France in 1968 and in 1992
the Society presented an outstanding production of MURDER IN
THE CATHEDRAL in St Mary's Church in Cowes.
CAODS is most fortunate
to own the theatre it calls home. Throughout its history - like
most amateur companies - it performed in church halls, town halls
and local theatres. But when in 1983 the opportunity presented
itself to purchase Trinity Hall in Cowes, the then Society members
showed their commitment to the value of securing for posterity
a place for local talent to be nurtured and honed and they bought
the building. The Members converted the hall into the splendid
theatre we see today and down the years have worked hard to maintain
the fabric and modernise the facilities as funds and energy allowed.
Down the years the
repertoire has matched the broad band of public taste and demand.
There have been stirring musicals, dramatic presentations of drama
and farce. And there is the annual Pantomime - so beloved of adults
and children alike. The Society has fostered young performers
and there have been some notable productions by the junior members
of the Society. A number of the young players who have performed
in our Society have gone on to star on the London stage.
The CAODS is proud
of its history - and its story is told in the Centenary publication
"One Hundred Years of the Cowes Amateur Operatic and Dramatic
Society" by Declan Cleary - one of the Society's members.
This history charts the social changes that have shaped the Society's
development and every production is catalogued with the stories
and gossip which offer a flavour of the fun and excitement enjoyed
by CAODS' Members down the years
Copies of "One
Hundred Years of the Cowes Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society"
are available from the author - Dec Cleary, 4 Battery
Rd., Cowes. PO31 8DP priced £3. to include postage and packaging.