Skip to content

Reflecting on the first 85 years of The Sainsbury Singers

Bill Buckley, Michael Schult, Wendy Carne and Catherine Hannan.
To commemorate our 85th Anniversary in 2023, we had the pleasure of speaking with Bill Buckley on BBC Radio Berkshire last week — where we delved into The Sainsbury Singers rich history and exciting future plans. Join us as we take a nostalgic trip down memory lane and explore the incredible journey of our society.

Throughout our illustrious 85-year journey, the society has delighted audiences with a diverse repertoire of shows. From enchanting Gilbert and Sullivan operettas to grand operas such as Carmen and Faust, our commitment to delivering exceptional performances has been unwavering. Memorable productions include The Gondoliers, The Merry Widow, La Vie Parisienne, and Merry England. Notably, our rendition of Hot Mikado in 2016 garnered accolades, winning two NODA Regional Awards and a NODA District award.

In 1976, The society underwent a significant transformation, embracing the realm of modern musicals. It was during this period that we presented a highly successful production of My Fair Lady, marking a new era for The Sainsbury Singers. This landmark performance paved the way for a series of captivating productions that would follow.

One venue that holds a special place in our hearts is The Hexagon Theatre. Though it opened its doors just 45 years ago, The Hexagon has become an integral part of our journey.

Credit: Reading Arts and Venues on behalf of Reading Borough Council.
Credit: Reading Arts and Venues on behalf of Reading Borough Council

In 1978, we were honoured to be the first amateur theatre group in Berkshire to perform on The Hexagon’s stage – commencing our partnership when we were invited to perform a concert version of The Gondoliers, inaugurating this iconic venue. Our performances at The Hexagon have been nothing short of magical, leaving indelible memories for both our members and audiences alike.

Reflections from the President – Wendy Carne

As the current President of The Sainsbury Singers, I am privileged to witness the passion and dedication of our members. I share fond memories of spectacular performances at various venues, including personal favourites like My Fair Lady and Half a Sixpence. Looking ahead, we are excited to announce our plans for a 2024 production titled “Kipps” a remake of the beloved Half a Sixpence. The Hexagon, as a cherished performance space, symbolises our commitment to the arts and the enduring partnerships we have formed.

Dedicated members – The lifeblood of the society

The Society owes its success to the unwavering commitment of its members. Catherine Hannan, a valued member for over 20 years, encapsulated the spirit of our community during the BBC interview. Her love for the stage and dedication to the society have been instrumental in our achievements. We take pride in our recent accolade for Made in Dagenham, a testament to the exceptional talent and collaborative efforts of our team.

During the BBC Radio interview, Michael Schult revisited significant milestones in our journey. As well as exploring the ground-breaking transition to modern musicals in 1976, the interview was an opportunity to share our passion for the performing arts and our commitment to musical theatre in Reading. He was able to share his excitement about our upcoming production – The Addams Family musical comedy – which will be our 169th show since the society started under the baton of Frank Sainsbury in 1938.

As we celebrate 85 years of captivating performances and the enduring spirit of the society, we extend our heartfelt gratitude to our members, supporters and audiences. Together, we have built a legacy that will continue to inspire and entertain for years to come. Here’s to the next 85 years onstage!

We invite you to listen to the full interview on the BBC Sounds website:

Play Video