History 2011 – 2019


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2011 was in many ways a new team effort, as a number of our long-serving backstage and production people took on new rôles, and there was an influx of new blood and new ideas. The programme was a mix of “something old, something new”, and revisited a couple of numbers which have been very successful for us in the past – although presented with a new twist! Perhaps one of the greater challenges was the amount of part-singing that had to be learned; for some that was a steep curve and a new experience. The end result, though, was outstanding as we traversed the realms of (amongst others) KiwiMusic, MovieMusic, QueenMusic, ClassicMusic, Folkmusic, and the Finalé containing some of our best original songs. The Show was interrupted occasionally by a couple from a down-country Gang, and a clumsy Super Scout, to name just two. In all, another step up, and another step forward.

Saying “goodbye” is hard to do – but it’s something we all experience, and the 2011 Gang have had the sad occasion to have to say farewell to Randal Harding, one of the still very active founding members of our Show from 1969 to the very end, who died before our auditions in 2011, Dean Gillard, a young member of the Gang for the last two Shows who died in 2012, and John Hargreaves, a former Musical Director and Rehearsal Pianist in the years from 1970, who died this year. The members of the Gang turned out in force at the funerals of Randal and Dean, and were well represented at John’s service. May the three of them rest in peace and rise in glory.

During the past forty-two years of Auckland Central Gang Show, representing twenty-three shows, we’ve had over ninety-nine thousand people come and support us as audience and well over 2400 people have been in the Gang, as cast, as crew or as support.

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2013 brought a number of important developments and crowned all of these with a sense of real achievement as the Show was awarded the highest assessment our Adjudicator has given for the seasons to date.

Because our Gang was hosting the Australia and New Zealand Performing Arts Conference (ANZPAC), we were joined by representatives of Shows from around New Zealand and Australia, and our season was graced by a very widely representative group of people from both countries.

What was interesting (from a performance point of view) was that the cast for 2013 were a very young, new group – only a few had trod the boards before – so this makes the overall sense of achievement even more creditable. The Show itself was a mix of new and old, bringing together Gang Show items written by ourselves, some Australian Shows, Ralph Reader, and combining that with a good helping of recognizable and commercial material. The whimsy of Akelology, the wit of The Brain Surgeon, the hilarity of the diminutive Cubs in Gang Show; the complexity of Calon Lân, the fun of The Muppets, a generous serving of Rock ‘n’ Roll, a state of the art dance number, and even the Orchestra with their own “spot” – all these added their individual flavours to the overall offering put before appreciative audiences.

Technically, too, advances were made in the much expanded use of digital lighting, and in the extended use of sound in terms of individual microphone use for sound enhancement, and both these aspects added very considerably to the look and sound of the finished product.

So we continue to thrive, and we continue to make progress!

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Every season brings its own individual challenges, and for us 2015 was certainly no exception. This year after a bit of a shaky start, we ended up with a very junior cast, one which was gender-imbalanced, and certainly the smallest numerically for about 15 years. That said, the cast we did have fell-to and worked extremely hard to produce a Show of which we were very proud in the end!

We chose and adapted a rock song ”Jump Start” from a Canadian rock band called These Kids Wear Crowns as our theme and Show opener and it proved a very appropriate decision. We were pleased, too, with our WW1 commemoration piece, our very enthusiastic Junior item and many other parts of our Revue-style Show. We successfully reprised and updated a number of items from former Shows, and created a show-stopper with the junior cast “clapping” item, (labelled “Off Pat” in the video list below). As a lead-in to the Finalé, we presented Ralph Reader’s evergreen “These Are the Times”, and reintroduced the verse to this song which is practically never sung in the southern hemisphere, although several British Shows use it. Check it out below, if you’ve never heard it!

Technically we continued to make more and more use of LED and dichroic lighting and employed a greater number of moving head lights in the rig. We also added a greater number of chorus-enhancing microphones to the sound palette.

From the Box Office standpoint, it is getting steadily more difficult. In the climate in NZ, since the advent of the Privacy Act, it is almost impossible for the Show’s publicity team to get hold of the contacts they need – first and foremost the section leaders of the movement(s). Our team valiantly uses every other contact they can including social media, but the job is made so much harder by Political Correctness – it seems extraordinary that a Scouting activity cannot gain access to the Scouting leaders’ list for the purpose of communication!

We enjoyed a great season in the end, despite the quibbles above, and are, as usual, re-energised by that experience.

Watch video of this show…


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Watch video of this show…


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Watch video of this show…

While we are talking about Gang Shows in New Zealand, we are one of about twelve regularly performing shows around the country and one of two shows in Auckland, the other being the North Shore Scout Gang Show.

Over the period of time that Gang Shows have been in existence, there has been an enormous volume of material written and composed by the various shows, which has supplemented the great legacy of the material written by Ralph Reader. We are using some of this, but as always a proportion of the content of our show this year has been specially written or adapted by our production designers.

Finally remember this, there are no “stars” in Gang Show, Every member of the Gang, wherever they work, on stage, back stage, front of house in the lighting control room or in the orchestra pit is expected to give their best performance every night. To put a together a show like this it takes a lot of dedication, time and experience . . . so it’s up to each and every one in the show to give 110% effort to live up to the high standard and tradition that is Gang Show around the world, and here in Auckland Central in particular.

Our history is an ongoing tale, woven from the lives of people and the magic of theatre. With our 50th year in 2019, we look forward to writing new pages of that story and we invite you who are reading these words to become a part of that flowing stream – either by active participation yourself on- or backstage, or if you are visiting us from elsewhere in the country or the world, to keep up with us either through this website or through our Facebook page.

A warm greeting to you all from the Auckland Central Gang.