We are UK Registered Charity number 302531
The Harpenden and Wheathampstead District Scouts are very lucky to have many active Scout Groups and Explorer Units. That number has been growing over the last few years and, at the time of writing, we have 10 Scout Groups and 6 Explorer Units. Many of the Groups have more than one Cub Pack or Scout Troop. The down side of this is we have a huge pool of young talent eager to join the Cast of one of the UK's, if not the worlds, top Scout Gang Shows. This would explain why every year since 2006/7 the cast applications have been heavily over subscribed. Sometimes by as much as 60% plus
The Public Hall in Harpenden is not blessed with huge space either on stage nor dressing areas so there is a limit of 152 cast members over the 3 Scout sections that take part. There is a limit on numbers in the audience as the Eric Morecambe Theatre, within Harpenden Public Halls can only safely accommodate around 370 people. Some have said that this does mean that the show has a "family" feel and, until the new Harpenden Leisure, Arts and Media centre is opened in 2021-22, we will enjoy ourselves as we are.
The audience often includes people from far and wide, with members from Scout HQ and other Gang Shows some travelling from all over the country to enjoy our show. Brave people indeed, as there is always meteorological excitement to be had in the first week or two of January when our Show takes place! The national distance record, previously held by Glasgow and Edinburgh Gang Shows at around 380 miles was shattered by Graham Eden of the Inverness Gang at our Saturday evening show in Jan 2014 who travelled 540 miles by plane/train/car to the show. The international record being held by Brisbane Gang Show at around 10300 miles!! Ewan, our Producer, has the boomerang to prove it too. Gang Show or not, Scout Association or not, family of cast or not you will always be made most welcome to join us wherever you are from. You will be always greeted by our friendly Front of House team and Explorer Scouts at the doors and shown to your seats. Come and be part of the 2500 or so people that enjoy seeing our show every year.
Since our first show in 1949 there has never been an audition to be a cast member in the show and there is a very strong feeling that this should remain. If Scouting young people want to be in the show then they should have the opportunity. Once you have been accepted into the Gang, there is then the opportunity to audition for various singing, dancing and speaking roles. There is often the headache task for the Creative Team to cast the "Front Row" which is 8 of each girls and boys from the Explorer Scout units. Often with a complete backup Front Row too. With so many young people eager to take part this means that, since 1994, we have not had anyone on stage over the age of 18. The exception being our 50 th, 60 th, and 70 th shows where we were able to feature several members of the original 1949 Gang. The 70th in January 2019 featured several members from every decade.
Our Crew members have come a long way since those early days too and feature a number of ex Cast members, some have children in the cast. The 1949 show had around a dozen enthusiastic adults and today we have 150+ that help to put on what has been described by a UK Scout Association member as a "very professional, amateur show". We are rather pleased by that comment.
Although there are other shows that claim to be the oldest, Glasgow started in 1936 for example, we can say and can prove that the Harpenden Gang Show has had a continuous run every year since 1949. Even a severed electricity cable (not our fault by the way) in 1974 didn't stop the show. Some parents drove their cars onto the steps of the Public Hall and lit the stage with headlights.
Among our Crew you will find people that have either professional or at least semi-professional skills in show production but most are amateur with tremendous spirit to put on the show each year. Parents of cast members or previous cast can be found in every team alongside young people "learning the ropes". Obviously as time goes on then the show effects, including pyrotechnics and led suits for dance numbers, and the methods used by the Crew become more sophisticated and we have been using the internet to sell show tickets, USBs, DVDs and PhotoUSBs/Disks for a number of years alongside our locally produced branded clothing too.
All in all a tremendous effort each year by so many people aged between 8 and 75+ to produce a briliant show that we are so very proud to be a part of.