Society History

The Society originally came into being in 1909 performing ‘The Mikado’ as one of its first productions. In 1999 it celebrated its 90th Anniversary by performing an updated version of the original show called ‘The Hot Mikado’. This featured an upbeat, colourful tribute to Gilbert & Sullivan’s original masterpiece. For many years, the company rehearsed at Druid’s Hall, later to become the Gem Cinema and now the recently created St. Rumon’s Garden. For 47 years they were know locally for their annual pantomime at the Regal Theatre, Redruth. After the Cinema was reduced from a 1000 seated auditorium to 600, the introduction of radio microphones made it easier for the performers to reach their adoring audiences at the back, where in the early days, if you where to sit at the back, listening to dialogue would be very difficult.

In 1976, the Society acquired what is still their home today, the old Sunday School, Plain –an-Gwarry, Redruth, where rehearsals still take place and the walls and rooms echo with the sound of laughter and singing.

In 1995 the Society performed its first show in Truro at the Old City Hall, ‘Carousel’ was a challenge and not only was it an exciting show to do but the performers had to adjust to their new venue. This was followed by something the society knows and does well, ‘Song & Dance’ followed by ‘Annie’. They were also the first to perform a pantomime in City Hall for almost 40 years. Over the years the success of R.A.O.S.T. grew and grew and many factors contributed to this, the quality of acting singing and dancing, the talent of the workshop crew, the dedicated members and the willingness to improve and attempt projects and shows that perhaps the more ‘cautious’ societies would avoid.

One of these ambitious projects led the Society to perform a South West premiere. In the summer of 1996 a set was constructed for the show ‘Barnum’ and it was too big for City Hall so the society decided to use a circus tent instead. The tent was enormous and as far as the society knows no-one has ever attempted an enormous project like this before. The cast had to learn a whole range of circus skills like juggling, tightrope walking, balancing and brick throwing. Playing to an audience of approximately 6,000, ‘Barnum won the Society the N.O.D.A. Regional Award for Excellence for that year. Not to bathe too much in their own success, the society jumped straight back in at the deep end. Armed with a massive set that scaled 85ft by 51ft with a 30ft high pyramid in the middle and a cast of 102 adults, young people and children along with another tent, the society performed ‘Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’ the audience capacity was full every night. Once again, a show on this grand scale had never been attempted by any other society, Joseph left a long lasting impression on those that experienced the phenomenon, both cast and audiences alike.

The Christmas of 1997 brought the society back to the Regal Theatre with what they do best, ‘Spirit of Christmas’ a song and Dance totally devoted to the festive time of year.

Reaching 1998 and the brand new Hall for Cornwall was the venue for another new show. The Society once again premiered ‘Crazy for You’. With ‘Colours of Life’ a song and dance about colour performed for the Christmas of 1998 back at the Regal, 1999 was a celebration for the society 90th year on stage. As said previously, the society were back in the Hall for Cornwall with an updated version of the show that started.

2000 was the beginning of some fantastic Premieres for RAOST. Shows like Mack & Mabel, Pinocchio, Follow the Star proved to be a fantastic success in the eyes of the public. Although the early 21st century brought in the new shows it was always good to come back and do the ones people love. Hall For Cornwall was the venue yet again for shows like 42nd Street 2001 and Me & My Girl 2002. Also in 2002 RAOST embarked on a ‘risky’ project and placed over 70 cast members on the stage and no of them were over the age of 18. Bugsy Malone was a huge project for RAOST and could 70 children and young people pull it off? Well the answer was in the praises of the audience members that saw the show.

2003 was ROAST’s biggest venture to date at a cost of around £112,000 they were back in the big top and performed the largest production of Jesus Christ Superstar known in the UK. The Set was especially designed and built by our Director Michael Meer, who spent hundreds of man hours designing and constructing this awesome masterpiece. Check out the video clip on our Photo Gallery of Jesus Christ Superstar. It’s believed that it is possibly the biggest set ever constructed for the show in the UK. With 30ft high towers, inbuilt swimming pools, intelligent lighting, bubble machines, a Harley Davidson called Betty this was a massive success that won RAOST the Haslemere Award for Visual Excellence. How can you follow a show like that?? Well the cast went straight back to the rehearsal rooms and cracked on with the next show. ‘Thank You for the Music’ was a song & dance which are shows that ROAST do best, because of the huge success with this show the ROAST SINGERS were born (learn more on that on their history page). Then the next summer it was back into the Hall for an old favourite ‘The Sound of Music’. So good was this show, that it broke all box office records for an amateur show in the Hall.

2005 was Premiere time again for RAOST with the launch of ‘TITANIC the Musical’ in the Hall at the beginning of the summer and then the top week of the world famous Minack in Porthcurno. Titanic won the top award for Souvenir Programme and came second to winning the Minack award given for the best performance of the season only to be outdone by the Gentleman of Verona that followed after Titanic. Titanic the musical brought to the stage the real fears, heartbreak, upset, the heroes and the cowards in a truly moving and sensitive way, of what happened that fateful night. Later that year costumes were hired from the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford, for another premiere. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was performed at our home theatre in Redruth, on a slightly lower scale than the multi million pound Disney Version, the acting was nevertheless still as good, and the costumes amazing,

In 2006 RAOST went back to an old favourite, ‘Annie Get Your Gun’ was a good old family favourite with rifle shooting, balloon popping, ribbon twirling fun. With songs like ‘There’s no Business Like Show Business’ , ‘Doin’ What Comes Natur’lly and ‘You can’t get a man with a Gun’ audiences were leaving at the end of the show still singing and toe tapping, another excellent show to put under the belt of this grand old lady.

Their latest production  was another premiere for the South West, 'The Scarlet Pimpernel' was a fantastic show with lots of ‘foppish’ humour. Set during the French revolution, the story revolves around an English Aristocrat by the name of Sir Percy Blakeney who unbeknown to the French, is the Scarlet Pimpernel that saves the French Aristocrats from the evil of Madame Guillotine.

2008 bought us back to the Hall For Cornwall with, as the NODA rep put it 'The Best production of Carousel he has ever seen' (and he's seen quite a few). As ROAST approached it's centenary year, it celebrated in a number of ways. The RAOST Singers put on a couple of concerts with Mousehole Male Voice Choir who were also celebrating their 100th year and performing 4 shows, one after another. to kick things off RAOST performed '100 Stars for a 100 Years' a Song and Dance style show that relived some of RAOST's most memorable moments. It was straight down to the Minack to perform The Music Man. In December we once again invitec audiences to join with us in performing one of the Society's favourite shows Scrooge the Musical. Finally as RAOST head to the final days of their 100th year they are right back at the Hall with another Dickens classic 'Oliver!' Most of many achievements of RAOST could never have been obtained if it wasn't for the dedication, hard work and love by the cast, crew, members and friends of RAOST. Who else could boast that they 'Did it three times in a tent!!'