Who Are We?
In an age of disposability, where it seems nothing is expected to last, ACAOS continues to endure, building on a tradition that is over 100 years old and going from strength to strength, pushing new boundaries while retaining the traditional foundations that made the club the success that it continues to be today.
In 1909, drawing on the talents of the local choral societies and inspired by the emergence of the amateur clubs of the time in Glasgow, Airdrie Amateur Operatic Society was founded with a view to producing the Gilbert and Sullivan classic ‘HMS Pinafore’. As a suitable venue could not be found in the town, Coatbridge’s Theatre Royal agreed to house the fledgling society and in 1910 the newly named Airdrie and Coatbridge Amateur Operatic Society played to sell out crowds, with standing room only reported for the final performance. And so a legacy that was to span more than a century was born. History was completed with the move to the newly built Sir John Wilson Town Hall in 1913, an impressive new theatre that was to serve as the society’s spiritual home right up until the present day.
Only two World Wars have been able to break show continuity as ACAOS have continued to perform to sell out audiences annually for over one hundred years. In that time, the shows have changed, extending beyond the roots of Gilbert and Sullivan, but the name of ACAOS as a society that excels in bringing the highest quality productions to the stage, persists. For the society’s 50th Anniversary in 1959, the amateur premiere of Franz Lehar’s ‘Merry Widow’ was performed. In 1969, for the Diamond Jubilee, ACAOS was only the third amateur club in Scotland to perform the London smash hit of the time: ‘My Fair Lady’. And this tradition of breaking new ground continued in 2009 after the society secured the Scottish amateur premiere of ‘Footloose’, performed as part of the ongoing celebrations of the Centenary Year.
• Alex McIntyre (1925 - 1950)
• Alex Davidson (1950 - 1953)
• J M Blair (1953 - 1957)
• A M S Clelland (1957 - 1966)
• R L F Ness (1966 - 1969)
• Robert Johnston (1969 - 1977)
• Bill Lindsay (1977 - 1979)
• C J Smith (1979 - 1982)
• Harry F Hamilton (1982 - 1986)
• Elizabeth M M Donald (1986 - 1991)
• Robert Johnston (1991 - 1992)
• Bill McCloy (1992 - 1997)
• Joan Hamilton (1997 - 1999)
• Anne H Smith (1999 - 2002)
• Lewis Paul (2002 - 2007)
• Andy Smith (2007 - 2011)
• Grant A Johnston (2011 - 2014)
• Alan Smith (2014 - 2016)
• Iain N Campbell (2016 - Present)
Harry Hamilton Award
Awarded to those who have gone that little bit further in their service to the club!
Elisabeth M.M. Donald (2003)
Robert Johnston (2004)
Morag Murray (2005)
Anne G. Smith (2006)
Alan Love (2007)
Katrina Costello, Susan Campbell & Ian G. Montieth-Mathie (2008)
Fiona McCloy (2009)
Grant A. Johnston (2010)
Steve Taylor (2011)
Joe Bradshaw (2012)
Alan Smith, Christine Nelson,
Anne H. Smith, Joan Hamilton & Lesley Smith (2013)
No Winner (2014)
Iain A Campbell & Laraine Johnston (2015)
Grant Campbell (2016)
Recent years have seen ACAOS continue to challenge boundaries into the next one hundred years; 2005 saw a return to our Gilbert and Sullivan roots, albeit with a very different interpretation, when Hot Mikado was performed complete with Gospel/Jazz/Swing slant. Rock and roll was the order of the day in 2007 as ACAOS took on Return to the Forbidden Planet, and this style of music featured heavily again when the club performed the ultimate Rock Opera Jesus Christ: Superstar, in 2014. Despite being told it was the show that could not be done, in 2013 ACAOS took on the legendary West Side Story, and delivered a memorable production. The club even survived the closing of the Town Hall in 2012, taking over a local church and staging Godspell, complete with Steampunk styling, in the ornate surroundings of the Wellwynd Parish vestry.
As costs rise against shrinking incomes, many challenges face amateur theatre and ACAOS are no different. But with an extensive family and a commitment to keeping things exciting and fresh it is with quiet confidence that ACAOS looks to ring in the next one hundred years. See you in 2109.
Long live Opera Week!