Q&A: Chairwoman of the Shenfield Operatic Society Kerry Cooke
PUBLISHED: 12:00 02 November 2018 | UPDATED: 16:33 25 January 2019
Chairwoman of the Shenfield Operatic Society Kerry Cooke speaks to Enjoy Brentwood More about her favourite shows over the years and the amateur dramatics group’s upcoming performances.
Can you tell me a little bit about the operatic society?
Shenfield Operatic Society, known as SOS, is an amateur dramatics society based in Brentwood, specialising in musical theatre. The society started in 1961 when a small group of teachers formed the St Martin’s Operatic and Dramatic Society at St Martin’s Boys School in Hutton.
Many pupils from St Martin’s Girls’ and Boys’ school became involved and the society changed its name to Shenfield Operatic Society. We still have some founder members in the society now.
When did you get involved and why?
After studying drama at university, I wanted to get involved in the “am dram scene” and this society had the reputation as the most friendly.
I joined in 1982 in time for Hello Dolly which we performed at the Civic Theatre in Chelmsford.
I had one solo line and I was terrified at every performance!
Luckily, the show was a huge success and there were several experienced people who helped me get over my stage fright.
When did you became chairwoman and how did you feel when you were given that role?
After several years on the committee, I became chairwoman in 2013.
I felt honoured that society members would put their trust in me to lead the society but we haven’t looked back and the society has gone from strength to strength.
There is an amazing committee who work hard behind the scenes to give our shows that “professional” feel (even though they aren’t actually paid).
What do you like about working at the Shenfield Operatic Society?
SOS are a talented and friendly bunch.
Coming to rehearsals to sing with a team of musical theatre enthusiasts is such a pleasure.
We work hard, but also have a laugh and regularly go on to the pub after rehearsals for a friendly chat and a favourite beverage or three.
What has been your favourite show so far and why?
I have been in so many amazing shows - Lillie Vannessi in Kiss me, Kate, Golde in Fiddler on the Roof, Sally Bowles in Cabaret, Mrs Lovett in Sweeney Todd, Katisha in The Hot Mikado – but my favourite to date has to be Delores van Cartier in Sister Act. This was such a feel good show. We got to promote the show at Brentwood Brewery as nuns, supping at the beer and managed to sell out most performances at the Queen’s Theatre in Hornchurch – something very few amateur societies have the privilege of doing.
Are there any shows that the society hasn’t performed yet but you would like to in the future and why?
We are hoping one day to perform the Witches of Eastwick and we recently put in for the rights for Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang and Shrek.
It would be good to do some of these newer shows but much depends upon when the rights holders allow amateur societies to perform them.
What has been your highlight so far working with the society?
A personal highlight for me was winning the Brent Award for Best Actress in a Musical; but as chairwoman, the joy always comes from seeing our society members grow and develop their skills during show week.
I feel so proud to be part of this society when I see what we are able to achieve, both backstage as crew and on the stage as performers.
What do you hope for the group’s future?
I have no doubt that the society will continue to grow and flourish.
We look forward to All Shook Up, which we will be performing at the Queen’s theatre next February 2019 and The Producers the following year.
We are always on the lookout for new members, so please do contact us via our website.
SOS produce two musical shows a year: the main show at the Queen’s Theatre, Hornchurch, in February and a show/concert in a smaller venue, such as Brentwood Theatre, in June/July.
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