For nearly 130 years, Lancaster Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society has been entertaining theatre-goers with a succession of highly acclaimed shows.
Now, for the first time, the input of hundreds of performers, backstage and front of house helpers has been chronicled in fine detail online, in possibly the most comprehensive history project undertaken by any amateur society.
It’s a work in progress but already visitors to the website are able to explore show programmes dating back to 1942, involving more than 5,500 roles, on and off stage, and 1.425 people.
The historical record is being compiled by web developer Mark Brierley, who has his own firm, AGMtek, based in Thornton Cleveleys.
He has strong family connections with LADOS.
His aunt, the late Peggy Brierley, after performing in many shows went on to produce and direct 22 productions between 1986 and 2007. His uncle, David Brierley, Peggy’s husband, is the current president.
And Mark’s cousin, Suzanne (Peggy’s daughter) is, with her husband, Kevin Ward, about to produce and direct the society’s next show, Jesus Christ Superstar, which runs from Tuesday, May 7, to Saturday, May 11 at Lancaster’s Grand Theatre.
Working from the society’s own archive of programmes, Mark is scanning each one on to the website page by page. Every page has to be “cleaned” and re-assembled to create a page-turning experience on the website.
Mark explained: “The older programmes have proved quite fragile to handle, and were almost falling apart, but now they are preserved in digital form and accessible to all.”
It means anyone with a mention in any of the programmes can now be followed. Mark has even linked maiden and married names to assist the researcher.
And Mark hopes that by the time the curtain rises on Jesus Christ Superstar, he will have managed to get every programme, dating back to the first production in 1891, on to the website.
To reach the website go to http://www.lados.online and follow the links.
l Tickets for Jesus Christ Superstar available from the website or the Grand Theatre box office.
This year LADOS are supporting the Rosemere Cancer Foundation in memory of Roger Bradley, who played Jesus in both the society’s previous superstar productions, and who died in 2007.