Fifty years of concert party antics
For half a century the Taradale RSA Concert Party has been raising smiles — lots of smiles.
The concert party is a unique collection of about 30 talented volunteers who are passionate about entertaining.
And as they have for the past 49 years, they are at it again for their 50th year, and their audiences are delighted.
They may be in their “senior” times but age has certainly not wearied their resolve to put on a show to raise laughter and applause.
They also raise funds through donations to keep the costs down, but then give the rest away.
As Ivan Woodham, who has been part of the happy crew for 20 years said, when they take their shows to other venues they ask for donations and they are suitably rewarded.
“And at the end of the year we sort out a worthy cause and we donate to them,” he said.
Is it a lot of fun being part of the concert party? “Oh yes . . . tell me about it,” he laughed.
He recalled how, 21 years ago, they were seeking someone to step in and play piano for them and his wife happily obliged. “And she’s still doing it.” The Taradale RSA Concert Party is pretty well the only one of its kind still performing after so long, and there is no sign of them slowing down.
As secretary Peter Rawstrone said, they aim to put on about 20 performances a year, and with all the planning, rehearsing, travelling and performing that means a lot of time and devotion.
“It’s not all hard work for the members, most of whom are over 70, with some over 80, as there is always the friendly banter that goes with any group meeting.
“The fellowship comes as we have refreshments, a few laughs and a meal at the RSA afterwards.”
Peter said they all had unique talents and liked to share that with others, and some were in demand to perform outside the concert party in private functions and cabarets.
“Many were involved in the operatic or the theatre world in their younger days and this gives us the advantage of the member’s vast experiences, ensuring a quality performance.”
For their 50th anniversary, the concert party is staging a show titled Sentimental Journey, which is directed by Peter and Helen Hill, and like the previous highly acclaimed shows is filled with songs, sketches, dance, magic and comedy.
“It is a production which takes the best from past shows and will also present a bracket of army songs and routines to recapture the spirit of Anzac in this 100th year since Armistice Day,” Peter said.
It follows a sort of Vaudeville path with plenty of variety that will inspire the audiences to join along in song and get the hands clapping.
The origins of a concert party date back to the days of the Tin Hat clubs.
These were local groups who entertained thetroops during World War II.
The Taradale RSA Concert Party was formed in 1968 when 17 people answered a call for those interested to attend a meeting.
It was decided to go ahead with the group and the first rehearsal was held at the RSA in March, with the first official performance on Anzac night the following month.
“The late George Coldicutt was the first president, and, to this day as far as we know, we are the only performing concert party left in New Zealand,” Peter said.
“Our members are mainly retired and this year we welcome back our youngest member, Peter Coldicutt, the son of the foundation member, George.”
Peter said the concert party had its own lighting, sound equipment and stage curtains with each member having a job to do when setting up.
“We can set up in an hour and be ready to perform not long after,” he said.
“We also have our own band consisting of a pianist, a bass player, a guitarist and a drummer.”
He paid tribute to the great support they got from the Taradale RSA which had provided them with two containers to house their equipment, costumes and props, as well as a trailer.
“Each year a different show is produced and members start practising three months before the show is presented to the public,” Peter said.
“We perform at rest homes and clubs, both in Napier and Hastings and we also go away to the Waikato, Manawatu¯ , Tauranga, Wairarapa or Wanganui areas for two or three weekends each year, when we put on three shows at different clubs or RSAs.”
The weekend of November 10 and 11 is when the group will be formally gathering to celebrate their 50th jubilee.
“Members and ex-members will be invited to a dinner and entertainment at the Taradale RSA on the Saturday and Sunday will be the time for reminiscing over photos and renewing great friendships made over many years of being a member of the Taradale RSA Concert Party.”
So 50 years have passed for the concert party, and there’s plenty more to come. Peter said the members were hopeful that some younger men and women will step up and join the group.
“This will ensure that the concert party will continue to entertain people for many more years,” he said.
The cheerful and devoted Taradale RSA Concert Party crew.