King’s Lynn Operatic and Dramatic Society celebrates 110 years with exhibition

Posters and programmes from some of the 250 productions staged by King's Lynn Operatic and Dramatic Society (KLODS) will be on show at the society's headquarters next to the town's Arts Centre, in King Street.

KLODS through the ages will be on display on Thursday, May 26, from 2.30pm to 5.30pm, and everyone is welcome to attend.

'We hope that many people will enjoy seeing this display of social history within Lynn and West Norfolk,' said chairman Margaret Fox. 'We have bill board posters and programmes for the majority of the 250-plus productions the society has performed in Lynn.

'Despite some of the theatres no longer being in existence, we still have an active presence at the Lynn Corn Exchange, having just performed My Fair Lady and we are continuingto use the Arts Centre for our next two productions.

'We have been perforning at the centre since its opening again as a theatre in 1951, and for many years the company was based in Shakespeare's Barn.'

Records from the 1920s show the group was very profitable, although not facing the �30,000 or more cost of staging a current production.

The exhibition also coincides with the president's lunch club created by president Ann Greeves, the first woman to hold the post.

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KLODS has performed through periods of great social change, including two world wars and the floods of 1953, as well as surviving a downturn in the number of people attending theatres.

Under the title of The Hunstanton Amateur Operatic Society, the group was formed in 1901 by Sandringham church organist Arthur Cross. The first production was Gilbert and Sullivan's Patience at the Town Hall.

Many of the members lived in Lynn and productions were switched to being staged at the town's Theatre Royal.

In 1902 King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra became patrons and the name was changed to the King's Lynn and Hunstanton Operatic Society – it's not clear when it changed to its present form. Up until 1922, with one exception, the group staged Gilbert and Sullivan productions.

It was during the early period that member Clara Dow joined the internationally-renowned D'Oyley Carte Company.

Born in Lynn, she made her stage debut at the age of 16 and went on to great fame.

She was the last leading soprano to be personally trained by W S Gilbert and went on to produce Savoy operas until her 70s and died in 1969 aged 85.

A KLODS concert party entertained troops during the second world war and productions were put on at the Lynn Pilot until 1951 when the group returned to the Theatre Royal until 1967.

Shows then moved to the Fermoy Centre from 1968, but a milestone in the group's history came in the eary 1980s when it bought its permanent headquarters adjacent to the town's Arts Centre. The move was due to the efforts of Ben Curtis, who was chairman for almost 30 years.

A variety of fundraising events, everything from a parachute jump to summer fair, were held to raise the cash for a permanent home.

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