For over 65 years, Gang Show has evolved from an all male Scout show to one that is eclectic, is using members of the Scout and Guide movements: Cubs, Brownies, Scouts, Guides, Explorers, Senior Section and leaders to come together to present a modern high class production.
Gang Show came to Nottingham through the inspiration and drive of Cumbrian born Rover leader Bob Ross. Bob has previously been involved with the Bristol Gang Show and on his arrival in Nottingham gathered together a production team to stage Nottingham’s first Gang Show in 1951. In fact, a show was in production and being rehearsed in 1939, but events of that year led to the show being cancelled.
The inaugural 1951 show was staged in February of that year at the Co-operative Arts Theatre in George Street, with a cast of 84 Scouts and leaders.
In November 1953 the first Gang Show at the Theatre Royal was staged. The success of this and shows in the following years was evident in that between 1953 and 1959 no fewer than five shows were performed in this prestigious theatre, playing to packed houses – a testimonial to Bob and his team. These shows were still all Scout productions with an average cast of around 120 strong.
Bob retired in 1984 to be succeeded by former cast member Steve Shaw and he produced shows from 1985 to 1997.
Such was its success another show followed in 1952. Again it was enthusiastically received as in the previous year.
Following the high acclaim of these first two Gang Shows, it was decided a larger venue was needed, with the obvious choice of the Theatre Royal. It was a gamble and one that paid off as we’ve been there ever since.
When Ralph Reader first introduced girls into the London Gang Show in 1968, Nottingham followed suit in 1969. Not everyone was in favour at the time but producer Bob Ross was forthright in his decision to include Guides in the show. This was a first step for an ever increasing involvement of girls in the show in recent times. Brownies have joined those imitable Cubs in providing their unique style of entertainment.
Nowadays the balance between boys and girls provides the synergy for an up to date quality production, along with the glamour, panache and a plethora of talent to entertain you.
Subsequent shows have been produced by Jock Shaw, James Pidgeon and Annabel Alton.
For over 65 years the Nottingham Gang Show has provided entertainment for the young, and not so young, to the Community, City and County and to many beyond its borders.
Long may it continue.