History of Gang Show

A Gang Show is a theatrical performance by members of Scouts, Guides and Leaders.

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Gang Show had its beginning in England in 1932 by a young Rover Scout, Ralph Reader, who was making a name for himself in theatrical circles. In fact, Ralph was already a famous and sought after choreographer on Broadway – but his life took a remarkable twist after he wrote and produced the first Gang Show to raise money for a local swimming pool. Recognising the worth of this form of training, Baden-Powell encouraged Reader to continue. He did – and went on to establish the world famous London Gang Show tradition, as well as writing the words and music to hundreds of songs and sketches, including the world famous song “We’re Riding Along on the Crest of a Wave” (1934).

From that small beginning, the Gang Show has become one of the traditions of Scouting and has given Royal Command performances – the only amateur act to ever receive this honour.

Sir Harry Secombe, Sir Richard Attenborough, Peter Sellers, Darryl Stewart, Max Bygraves, Spike Milligan, Norrie Paramour, Dick Emery, Tony Hancock and many other stage and film stars were involved in Gang Shows early in their careers and have contributed in building the Gang Show tradition.

The Exeter & District Scout & Guide Gang Show started in 1983 at the Barnfield Theater, gaining national recognition in 1987 and the right to wear the Red Necker. Since the Exeter show began there have been 10 different producers, some individual and some teams, and over 700 members of “The Gang” have appeared on the stage.Gang Shows then spread quickly to many other countries around the world , as well as to most capital cities here in England. It is often said that a Gang Show is playing somewhere in the world every night of the year !

Picture: Ralph Reader, C.B.E., M.B.E. 1903 – 1982

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