© Downfield MusicalSociety 2007
Downfield Musical Since 1928 - Generations of Entertainment and Fun
DMS was formed in 1928 from the members of Downfield South Junior Choir, who, produced their shows in the local village hall in the days when Downfield was a small community on the periphery of the City of Dundee, Scotland. Their first show was ‘Cupid and the Ogre’. Seven shows were produced prior to the Second World War, the last being ‘The Quaker Girl’ and after the war the obvious choice for a ‘first’ production was to repeat the last production prior to the enforced break. ‘The Quaker Girl’ was represented, in 1950.
The limitation of the hall where the shows were then presented motivated the Society to consider a move, and it was decided to hire the 2,500 seat Caird Hall, the largest hall in the City. The Society stage crew managed to build a theatre within this vast hall. Two shows were presented there, the first being ‘New Moon’ in 1954, then ‘The Land of Smiles’ the following year. One of the reasons for the move, was to persuade the City Officials that the venue could be converted very successfully into a civic theatre, they did not agree, and the Society decided to revert to the Training College for their next two productions of ‘Bless The Bride’ and ‘Waltz Time’.
In 1957 the Palace Variety Theatre became available to Amateur Societies, and with a seating capacity of 1,250, it suited perfectly. Playing in the Palace was a wonderful experience, and the first show in 1958 was ‘The White Horse Inn’.
In the same year DMS started, something that the Tayside Audience were to discover to be one of Downfield’s Specialties; that was Pantomime. “Aladdin”, the first PANTO presented in the YMCA, was so successful, that the following year, “Cinderella” was presented in the Palace Theatre. It was the start of a pattern of two productions per year, later to become three shows per year, and now more recently four.
The Palace closed in 1969 and “Kismet” was the last production. Amateur Societies then moved to the “new” civic Whitehall Theatre. The Society’s first production there was “Puss in Boots”. But in the early 1980’s the District Council, to reduce costs, decided to dispose of the facilities; a disaster to the amateur movement; not so, for they bought it and have run it successfully since.
In 1971 the Society bought their own clubrooms, a major decision at that time. A move to bigger premises, where they are now, took place in 1983, and since that time, a great deal of work has taken place, to make it a pleasant, and enjoyable place, to rehearse, perform and relax.
The Society has been to the forefront of producing “first” in the City including “Grease, “Jesus Christ Superstar”, “Underneath the Arches”, “Hans Anderson”, the Broadway version of “Pirates of Penzance”, “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas”, “Godspell”, “Windy City”, “Barnum”, “Chess”, “Me & My Girl”, “Return to the Forbidden Planet”. This added to 8 years of entertaining over 35,000 SAGA tourists to Tayside, and presenting many cabaret performances, in Gleneagles, Coylumbridge, Dunblane Hydro, Creiff Hydro, and Peebles Hydro Hotels, makes the Society one the busiest in Scotland.
Since 1993 DMS made four visits to the Waterford International Festival in Ireland with “Godspell” gaining runners up spot as well as two other major awards in 1993 and the Best Stage Direction award in 2007 for "Batboy"
DMS are also in a unique position of being UK agents for the West End hit show “Windy City” written by Tony McCaully. The Society were delighted when Tony joined the company in Waterford to actually present the show at the Festival in 1994.
The 40th Anniversary PANTO “Aladdin” in 1998, proved to be a great success with the “Full House” sign out for all twelve performances ! Since then the same sign has ben used many times!!!
1999, was also a very exciting year for the Society having been chosen to represent Scotland at a “Showcase” Gala at The Royal Albert Hall in London as part of NODA’S Centenary Celebrations. A huge honour for the society.
In 2003 DMS celebrated it's 75th anniversary year and this proved to be an astonishingly successful year for the Society. Starting with an 'archive evening' presented by the indefatigable Mr Graeme Smith who prepared and presented all of this magnificent work. Highlight of the evening was the presence of DMS original accompanist from 1928. Then followed a near sell-out production of 'Jesus Christ Superstar' in April for which DMS subsequently won the NODA Scotland Programme award and Runner up for best POSTER. Then followed a highly successful one night Gala performance in the Caird Hall attracting the biggest ever audience for the Society in one evening - 1850 patrons. A re-run of JCS in September proved to be highly successful once again. In October the Society were afforded the highest honour of a Civic Reception in Dundee City Chambers hosted by Lord Provost John Letford JP. To round off this remarkable year the Pantomime Dick Whittington played to sell out houses in December. For the first time in 2003 patrons were now able to conveniently pay for tickets by Credit Card keeping the society to the technological forefront yet again.
2008 our 80th birthday was just as exciting with a return visit to the Caird Hall for the fabulous show "Happy Birthday Downfield"
DMS have now performed Seasonal Cabarets at Peebles Hydro for over 30 years having entertained the NODA conference at the Midnight Cabaret for the third time in 2004
In August 2009 we were delighted to perform the inaugural show "Smokey Joes Cafe" in the new Starlight Showroom where by redesigning and refurbishing the rehearsal hall we now have a fabulous venue where we can produce small company and intimate shows and cabarets. The opening night comments from our patrons were terrific and we are now looking forward to presenting many more shows in this amazing venue
In recent years DMS continue to present new and exciting shows to the people of Tayside including “Whistle Down the Wind” and The Scottish Amateur Premier of “Spamalot” and have also move into drama with “The 39 Steps” and another Scottish Amateur Premier of “Calendar Girls” and most recently the Tayside premier of "Sister Act"
In 2012 DMS were invited to present the closing Cabaret at the award ceremony at the Waterford International Festival in Ireland which was the fourth time the society has performed at this prestigious event.
With the Website www.downfieldms.co.uk now making the society known worldwide on the Internet, the bursaries being made available for the benefit of our younger members, and the workshops now set up for development of our new members - the Society looks certain to have a long and fruitful future ahead and is a tribute to those who set up this organisation back in 1928.