The band played the first few bars of a Take That medley as the curtain twitched to open with the lights about to shine.
I was in for a treat in Oxford’s cosy New Theatre; this was going to be a show to remember.
Okay – I guess 1 out of 2 ain’t bad. I can at least remember it.
When I was very young I was a Cub and a Scout and one of the things I did in that time that will stay with me forever was The Gang Show. For those who have never heard of it The Gang Show is an amateur production put on by Cubs, Scouts, Brownies and Guides every year, up and down the country. Usually it is an amalgamation of local troupes.
I loved being a part of that show. It was an absolute buzz.
So when we got a chance to take our boys to see this years’ show I snapped it up. They both only started late last year – Jamie at Beavers and Daniel briefly at Cubs before moving up to Scouts. I thought if they saw the show now then they would be up for auditioning for next years’.
Sometimes we cannot help but try and impose the things we loved when we were young onto our kids.
Because of all of the above I found myself sitting in a theatre surrounded by kids waiting to watch a completely non-professional show full of children that I didn’t know. An element of doubt started to creep into my mind.
The lights came up and there, filling the stage, were a load of adults. I looked at my wife and then back at the stage because these were no ordinary adults. These were really big ones.
It seems that the first qualification you need to be a Scout leader in Oxfordshire is to be very, very – well, cuddly? The stage was one set of scales short of a full Weight-Watchers meeting.
Then they started singing.
I kind of wished they hadn’t.
Now don’t get me wrong on this one – these people are brilliant. I’m in awe of people who so selflessly give up their time and volunteer to help young folk out in the way that they do. I don’t do it – I couldn’t – even if I am chunky enough. It’s a damned hard thing that they do every week at their local troupes, and then these guys have gone that extra step and come onto a reinforced stage to sing so badly that the kids who came on next sounded good.
They are selfless people and I want that totally understood and thanked before I go any further taking the P*** out of them!
They were only on the stage briefly before the real stars of the show came out and took over having cleverly whispered to the one closest to the wings that there was some sponge cake in the dressing room.
The show was, in fact, very good. For an amateur production it was very professional. The kids did a great job and their parents deserve to be extremely proud. I did feel, though, that the adult helpers took far too much stage time up throughout the show. Be in the back of the chorus guys and have one funny all adult act by all means – that is the way of things with a Gang Show but you guys turned up in nearly every scene, right at the front.
I suspected that some of them were enjoying their moment more than the kids.
The scariest act was one that had me doing breath tests on myself to check I wasn’t drunk. I know I shouldn’t mock – there was so much work put into it but.. but...
Far too ‘sexily’ dressed young girls akin to Big Fat Gypsy Weddings characters, singing ‘Holding out for a hero’ as occasionally four adult men – no wait, three adult men and one adult lady with a fake moustache – did muscle poses and one adult woman on roller skates was swung around for no apparent reason whatsoever, was just too much to take. And no, there was absolutely no way I could make that sentence any shorter.
I know it was in humour – but I just couldn’t work it out at all! If the roller-skating lady could have stayed out, or if they could have used one of the actual men to take the place of the fake man then I could have taken it. As it was I was beat.
It was good though – really. I was very impressed and I know my boys were. Their eyes were wide open with excitement throughout the show (Well Jamie got a bit stroppy when he found out the sweets weren’t getting opened until half time but otherwise...). Hopefully I haven’t knackered up their chances of getting in next years’ show by writing this because they both want to try for it.
It is a brilliant chance for kids to get up on stage and I wouldn’t mock that for the world – or the people who bust a gut to give them that chance.