There are few community theatre companies in Australia that come close to surpassing the history and reputation of Gosford Musical Society, established in 1947. Known mostly to the their community as “GMS,” they have provided 71 years of quality community theatre programming to the Central Coast region.
The company has grown substantially since its humble beginnings producing Pirates of Penzance in jazzed up tin shed in the back roads of Gosford, the company now produces 3 main stage shows and 2 youth shows annually, welcoming 20,000 patrons. They also run several studios, a men’s shed, a choir, a minstrels group, and have engagement in many community events annually. Many notable Australian performers have graced the stages of GMS before going on to have professional careers, including Chef and Radio Host Julie Goodwin, Actress and Comedian Julia Morris, and the late Belinda Emmett, to name a small few.
President Ros English has been in the role for most of the decade years and has been involved in the company since the late 1980s, but she almost wasn’t involved at all.
Ms English says “Kevin Booth, then president rang my place and left a message for me to ring back and I didn’t because I didn’t want a car (The Booth’s were notable car dealer in the area). He kept calling, and when I finally took the call it was in fact to ask me if I wanted musical direct the company’s next show, which opened in 5 weeks, and the rest is history”
“GMS, is a family The driving force, is the welcoming approach, community feel that everybody, all of our members, have, a desire to provide entertainment to the community”
Their 2020 season kicked off with the Disney Jr adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s Alice In Wonderland, the beloved story that needs no introduction. A new generation of young emerging artists took to the stage in January, 10 years after the company first presented the work. Rosie Ross, who joined the company at age 13 working behind the scenes on the junior shows that year, before transition to the stage the year after, remained and active member of the company both on and off stage, and has severed on the committee.
“Having a super strong female voice on a journey, mentally, emotionally and come out the other side, a stronger, more independent, more articulate individual is I think I’m really really relevant story particularly nowadays. Definitely something that is very near and dear to my heart.” Said Ross
Now Alice has been chased down the Rabbit Hole for the final time, the company takes on arguably one of the biggest jukebox musicals to ever be created, spawning not only hundreds of worldwide productions translated in 14 languages, but two award winning films starring Meryl Streep. Mamma Mia, tells the tale of Sophie, a young woman living on a Greek Island in the weeks prior to her wedding. Like most jukebox musicals, this isn’t the story of ABBA, their music just helps tell the story. It’s a beautiful story and a concert all rolled into one.
The show is being brought to the stage by Rebecca Johnston, another young woman whose arts career began when she joined Gosford Musical Society, “I became a GMS member in 2000 when my brother auditioned for ‘The Wizard of Oz’. I was 13 at the time and I worked backstage on the production. My eyes were opened to the wonderful land of Theatre”
Since then Johnston has worked on over 70, across many departments of the company, including making her directorial debut with Bring It On The Musical, for the company’s junior department.
When the company announced Mamma Mia as the first major musical of the season, Johnston knew she wanted to direct it, now just a fan of the music, but of the story and loved the idea of getting to work with a local group of artists on the production. She said,
“The voices, dancing and the band are all something worth seeing. It is cheeky and a whole lot of fun….plus ABBA tunes! What more could you want?”
The company has also lined up two more great works, works that will showcase the company’s talents while also expanding their skills and audiences.
In July they return to the Broadway Classic 42nd Street, premiering 40 years ago on Broadway. 42nd Street is a big, bold musical set in 1933, that celebrates the stuff that dreams are made of. Featuring hit’s such as We’re In The Money and Shuffle Along To Buffalo, the show is sure to delight audiences across the generations. The musical interestingly plays into the accidental theme of 2020, as it’s considered by many a jukebox musical as the show features musicals from the creators (Harry Warren, Al Dubin, and Michael Stewart) previous works.
The main-stage season is rounded out by the Broadway and global smash hit Beautiful, telling the inspirational true story of Carole King’s remarkable rise from teenage songwriter to global superstar. The musical only just recently finished a national tour and since it’s release to community company’s as quickly become a poplar feature in company’s season. Unlike Mamma Mia, Beautiful uses the music of the Artist to tell their own story, a fresh take on the genre.
Gosford Musical Society also recently announced their second junior show would be Back To The 80s, a local favorite, which is sure to fill in the middle of the year’s program nicely. Auditions take place soon and information can be found via the website
Ms English said when looking further into the future, “I hope to see the company going from strength to strength, I want us to be around for another 20 years, I’ll hopefully still be around, I’ll still want to be able to go and see GMS show.”
Given the company’s long history, dedicated membership, strong community support, and consistent quality, one hardly doubts Gosford Musical will remain a leader in Australian Community Theatre.
For more information about the company or their 2020 season visit www.gosfordmusicalsociety.com