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President's Report – 2018 Annual General Meeting



 If I had to pick a theme for EUCMS in 2017, it would be the blending of old and new – quite appropriate for a currently vibrant society with such a rich history! Our first production for the year, Annie Get Your Gun, neatly mixed the two, being a new version of an older musical that EUCMS has previously staged – and with a futuristic twist. With new director Emma Sedlak, new musical director Stephen Lee, and with Bec Kimpton as production manager, this production reached for the stars and delighted audiences, new and old alike. In the second half of the year, we tackled a classic story in a musical that was new to EUCMS – The Secret Garden. With an experienced team including Kath Sharpham as director, Rebecca Hansen as musical director, and Megan Willis and me as production managers, new life was breathed into the well-known characters, and The Secret Garden was ultimately superb and extremely highly acclaimed. Both productions were made possible by strong teams and lots of very hard work all around.


In September we held another charity fundraising concert with items again nominated by performers. Titled All the World’s a Stage, the organising team consisted of Bess Yager, Andrew Yager, Adam Wilson and myself, with a lovely novel set and lighting design by Wayne Chee. Many other EUCMS members contributed their time and talents to organising the event and, of course, performing a wide variety of items from shows both old and new.


Our annual church service in July was organised by Wendy and Janette Cosier, Linda Billingham, who led the choir, and with Scott Warner as the speaker. In December, we gathered again to share in an Advent service, organised by Allyson Turner, Wendy Cosier and Bec Forbes, with a choir led by Andrew Yager. Dramas written by Wendy and Bec especially helped bring to life the Christmas “news of great joy”, as we considered how this story from history impacts on our present and our future.


In June, we took inspiration from Annie Get Your Gun for a steampunk-themed mid-year dinner held at Eastwood Community Hall. Jessica Lee, Beth Virzi, Karen Swancott and I were joined by a number of helpers, including Caryn Kneale, who organised line dancing for entertainment. Our Christmas party in December was organised by Melissa Trickey and hosted by the Sistroms, and was a valuable time to celebrate the year past with our EUCMS friends and their families.


In April we also enjoyed a trivia night organised by Kath Sharpham and, at a stagecraft workshop given by Bess Yager, learned ways to create character and develop scenes. In the early months of this year we have already benefited from another stagecraft workshop given by Simon Ward, tailored specifically to the interpretation and performance of Gilbert and Sullivan. In 2017, we also had a strong presence again at the Granny Smith Festival and hosted two charity suppers at rehearsals.


Your executive committee members, in addition to the many behind-the-scenes roles they take on individually, have also worked very hard even further behind the scenes. This group of people – Penny Wilson as Vice-President, Megan Willis as General Secretary, Joanne Conolly as Treasurer, Belinda Bongers as Business Secretary, Karen Swancott as Property Officer, and our floor members, Cathy Bulfin as Bulletin Editor, Kath Sharpham as membership convenor, Adam Wilson looking after Publicity and IT, and Elaine Gow taking care of PR – has faithfully carried out the business of the Society and chipped away at projects new and ongoing: continuing to work through and update the job descriptions, writing policies, and making new makeup mirrors, to name a few. This year we’ve made a new user agreement with EUC, mainly meaning a change to our rehearsal spaces on Tuesday dress rehearsals to avoid disruption to the language classes meeting in the East-West room.


We’ve implemented some new benefits of membership including access to preferential booking night and lower prices for some EUCMS events. In response to increasing overall costs we’ve planned some ongoing changes to ticket prices, as you have already heard, but we’ve also come up with some new strategies to combat the old problem of slow sales on the first weekend followed by a rush on tickets for the second and third weekends.


I would especially like to thank Elaine Gow, who is not re-nominating for the executive this year. Elaine has been on the executive committee on and off for longer than any of us, and she takes on and faithfully carries out a huge number of tasks, but it’s not just that; her contribution to the Society – both at a committee level and a personal level – is invaluable not only due to her knowledge and experience from EUCMS shows past, but also due to her wisdom. I and the rest of the executive are grateful that as the current director, Elaine will still be part of the committee for a little while longer!


Thanks also goes to those members not on the executive committee – too numerous to list – who have taken on various roles for the society outside any one production or event, such as managing our costumes, our makeup, our lights, our records, our health and safety, and representing EUCMS in various ways.


As we look back on the year past, we remember those who are no longer with us. We mourned with several of our members as they lost parents and grandparents, and we were saddened to learn of the passing of recent former member Cliff Watson. But we also rejoiced with members who celebrated especially happy times – a daughter born to Jess and Steve Lee, and a daughter to Linda and Jonathan Billingham, enriching the lives of the Cosier family. Our members celebrated the births of great-grandchildren, there were three weddings of current or past EUCMS members – including Golde and Tevye from our 2005 production of Fiddler on the Roof! – and two 60th wedding anniversaries, the Barrys and the Glovers.


In the next year, we look forward to two contrasting styles of show in Yeomen of the Guard and Little Shop of Horrors – one show from our past and one new to EUCMS, to carry on the theme! – which nevertheless have in common clever writing, great characters and great music. Like last year, we have already welcomed new members into our ranks EUCMS is very dependent on the enthusiasm and generosity of all of you, and while it is still sometimes very difficult to fill certain roles or find people with the time to take on those persistent non-production projects, I am very encouraged by seeing more existing members stepping up to new roles.


With the EUCMS mix of experience, tradition and new ideas, we will continue to provide good quality entertainment and to be a great community of friends working together for years to come.


Caroline Reddell