OUR STORY SO FAR
Ruislip Operatic Society is a musical theatre group from Ruislip in North West London, United Kingdom. We produce two large scale musical productions a year, performed at the Winston Churchill Theatre. This year marks a very exciting chapter for us as we celebrate our centenary year.
Our next show is White Christmas the Musical, coming this Christmas. Click here to learn more about the show, view our cast & creative team and get your tickets.
Continue scrolling to explore one hundred years of Our Story so far.
Founded in 1923 - the same year as the likes of Disney, Time Magazine and Warner Brothers - Ruislip Operatic Society has been at the heart of musical theatre in Ruislip ever since, creating over 130 productions to date.
Over the years we have performed many different styles of live performance, ranging from the classics to modern musicals and music concerts. We currently produce two musicals each year, performing at the Winston Churchill Theatre in Ruislip - our home since we officially opened the venue in 1965. Alongside our productions, we also host various social gatherings and take part in local community events.
We hold a shared belief is that live theatre brings people together in a remarkable way and are dedicated to bringing the magic of live performance to musical theatre fans and our local community. Our members are passionate about producing high-quality, memorable performances for our audiences to enjoy.
Discover our extended history below...
The idea for a musical society in Ruislip was proposed by Reverend E. Bewlay (seconded by Mr R Howland) at public meeting held by the Ruislip Association on 17th December 1923. After much discussion, Ruislip Musical Society was born. Although the idea came from the Ruislip Association, it was decided that the brand new Society should operate as a separate entity.
They soon began building the structure of the Society, laying the foundations for what it would eventually become. Over this time, the group concentrated on rehearsals, building up their collective repertoire and enlisting volunteers to join their growing list of members. At a General Meeting of the Ruislip Musical Society on 16th October 1924, almost a year after its creation, it was decided to change the name to The Ruislip & District Musical & Dramatic Society.
April 1925 marked a momentous occasion, as the society made its first ever public performance. It was a concert version of Merrie England, performed in the Wesleyan Church Hall on Ickenham Road, Ruislip. The handbills advertising the show stated that the Society "had spared no pains to do justice to the Opera and hopes it will be the first of many successes."
With original member Mr R E Humphriss at the reins of production and musical direction, the show was an absolute success. Pre-box office demand strong from the beginning and the show sold well - the Society's presence in the local community was firmly established. Mr R E Humphriss is an important person in our story, eventually becoming the President of the Society alongside holding various other committee roles and production credits until his death in 1964. Continue reading below.
Having gained momentum from the success of the first show, the Society produced two shows the following year - 'Hiawatha's Wedding Feast' and 'Tom Jones'. Mr Humphriss acted as Producer and Musical Director for all but one of the early musical productions up to 1938 when the Society performed Rio Rita, produced by Mr Haydn Croker.
The one time Mr Humphriss was relieved of his duties before then was in 1935 when he handed the production reins to Gordon Stanford and took the part of Major General Stanley in Pirates of Penzance. Alexander Boret stepped in as Musical Director.
Our first full show was Iolanthe, performed at Ickenham Village Hall in 1927. By this point, the Society's membership boasted more than one hundred people. A production of Pirates of Penzance in 1928 broke new ground with performances on two nights at Ickenham Village Hall and two nights in Eastcote.
In 1936, the Society began producing their shows at the brand new Rivoli Theatre in Ickenham, starting with a production of Maid of the Mountains. By all accounts, it was an incredibly exciting time indeed for the Society. Unearth more of our live musical theatre history below...
The Early Years
ROS became a member of NODA, joining a community of many other amateur dramatic societies and musical groups around the United Kingdom.
In 1965, the Society was chosen to perform at the official opening of the Winston Churchill Theatre in Ruislip. Later that same year, the Society became the first company to produce a full theatrical production at the brand new entertainment venue and has continued to host their shows there ever since.
The Society celebrated its Golden Jubilee in 1973. A landmark occasion in the Society's rich history.
Continue reading below.
A Century Of History
At the start of the new millennium we founded ROS Stageworks - a weekly theatre workshop for children aged 6 to 18 designed to introduce local kids to the world of musical theatre in an inspiring and educational way. A few years later, we also launched ROS Stageworks Summer School - an annual week long musical theatre experience for young people. Largely comprised of ROS Members, our dedicated team of volunteer instructors played a vital role in helping students to reach their fullest potential, helping them to develop their performance skills and confidence.
A dinner to celebrate the 80th Anniversary of the Society was held at the Barn Hotel (Ruislip) in June 2003, after the spring production of Die Fledermaus. By all accounts, the event was an extremely joyous occasion, bringing together members new and old for a spectacular celebration.
Continue scrolling to find out more...
A Brand New Millennium
This year we celebrate our one hundredth year of producing musical entertainment in Ruislip. A momentous occasion indeed.
We kicked off 2023 with our highly anticipated production of award winning show Crazy For You, a romantic comedy featuring music by legendary composer George Gershwin. This production was held in March at the Winston Churchill Theatre. Continuing the celebratory spirit, we held our 100 Anniversary Dinner Dance event in July at Ruislip's McGovern Park (London GAA), welcoming over 100 guests including members past and present, NODA representatives and many others who have supported us over the years. Lots of memories were made as we enjoyed great food, music and dancing.
The 1st September marked an exciting new chapter for us with the launch of our brand new website. This coincided with the release of our limited edition ROS 100 Year merchandise. Click here to shop online.
Closing the year in spectacular style, our next production White Christmas the Musical will be performing at the Winston Churchill Theatre from 29th November to 2nd December 2023. We are excited to be joined by a BSL interpreter for one of our performances (Thursday 30th), helping to make the magic of live theatre even more accessible to all. Click here to find out more or book your tickets.
As we look back over the past century, our many stories and photographs remind us of the thousands of incredibly talented individuals who have worked with Ruislip Operatic Society across the years, many of whom have had a lasting affect on the Society. There are certainly far too many people to list individually.
We look forward to continuing to entertain our audiences for many more years to come. Here's to the future.