What is the Stirling Gang Show?
Stirling Gang Show came into existence in 1985 and put on its first production in spring 1986. It became a recognised Gang Show in 1989 on its first adjudication by The Scout Association's assessors. As a recognised Show we have to maintain standards. We are also entitled to wear the red scarf with the GS emblem bisected by our own name. It is mounted jointly by Scouts and Guides in Stirling and the surrounding areas.
2019 Stirling Gang Show
The next Stirling Gang Show will take place during the week commencing 29 September 2019 at the MacRobert Arts Centre.
In 2019 we will not be holding Auditions, instead we are inviting Scouts and Guides to come along to one of the Gang Show Experience Days on Sundays 17 & 24 February. They will be held in Queen Street Scout Hall from 2pm - 3.30pm. This will give Scouts and Guides the opportunity of finding out a little about Gang Show and they will experience a little of how we put a Show together. Attending one of these sessions does not commit you to joining but you will have the opportunity to enrol if you wish. All those who attend a session and wish to join will be accepted into the Stirling Gang. Existing Gang members are also welcome to attend a session if they want.
Cubs who will have moved to the Scout troop at the time of the Show should attend one of these Experience days as they will be part of the Main Gang. Cub and Brownie auditions will follow later in the year. Rehearsals for the main production numbers are held on Sunday afternoons in the Viewfield Church Hall in Stirling. Rehearsals for many of the smaller numbers are held on Tuesday evenings in the Guide Hall in Glebe Avenue, Stirling.
It is anticipated that on one night there will be a performance for specially invited disabled/disadvantaged groups. Over 100 local Scouts and Guides will be on stage with more than 50 helpers behind the scenes.
Tickets for the public performances will be available in late spring 2019. A booking form can be obtained on www.stirlinggangshow.scot
Ralph Reader C.B.E.
In 1932, Ralph produced the first production in the Scala Theatre, London of what was to become known as THE GANG SHOW. It was put on to raise funds and was written and produced by "A Holborn Rover".
William Henry Ralph Reader (to give him his full name) used this nom-de-plume as he was heavily involved with the theatre and he wanted his Scout production involvement to remain anonymous. However, with the success and sell out of this production and successive annual Gang Shows it wasn't long before everyone knew that Ralph was the Rover concerned.
Ralph was born on 25 May 1903 in Somerset. Before he was nine years old he was orphaned and left to be brought up by various Aunts and Uncles. He became a Scout in 1914. He worked for a cement company until he sailed to America in 1920. He hoped to enter show business but took several jobs until he "made it". He shared digs with Jack Oakie and George Raft and together they joined the chorus of off-Broadway shows and took part in Vaudeville. Slowly, Ralph learnt stage craft and worked on his dance routines. He slowly became established as a performer until he got his big break - to choreograph a Broadway musical. It was a great success.
Ralph was now in demand on both sides of the Atlantic as he choreographed and staged many major productions some of which he also performed in. In all he was associated with 32 productions on Broadway and 34 in London. He also worked at Pinewood film studios. For may years, Ralph staged the Royal Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall.
He directed or worked with many stars including Laurence Olivier, Noel Coward, Vivien Leigh, Alec Guinness, Vera Lynn and Marlene Dietrich.
During the war, he joined the Royal Air Force as an intelligence officer. As a cover for his activities, a Gang show unit was set up to provide entertainment for the troops. Eventually there were 20 units playing throughout the world and included such well-known names as Peter Sellers, Dick Emery and Harry Worth. For his services to the Royal Air Force, Ralph was appointed an M.B.E. For his services to Scouting he was later appointed a C.B.E.
In 1950, the London Gang Show started up again. It became a national event which sold out long before the first performance each year. Eventually television came along and broadcast excerpts which were always high in the ratings. Some future performers appeared first in the London Shows such as Roger Rees and Jim Davidson.
On several occasions, the Queen visited the London Gang Show performances. The Show holds the unique distinction of being the only amateur production to appear at three separate Royal Command Performances.
Ralph retired in 1974 but continued to tour the world visiting his many friends and the many Gang Shows set up in every corner of the globe. As he once said, "Every night of every year, somewhere in the world, a Gang Show is playing".
Sadly, in May 1982, Ralph passed away. He left a legacy of memories and music that will rightly keep his name alive through generations of Scouts.