Rugby Operatic Society was founded in September 1963 by Barrie Woodward and Peter Carder, who both taught in the Borough. Originally the idea was to provide an opportunity for young teachers in the area, with a common interest, to meet.
An initial meeting of seventeen people decided to recruit others from outside the profession to produce a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta – The Pirates of Penzance. Peter Carder was appointed Musical Director and Barrie Woodward, Producer. The Society was called Rugby Young Teachers’ (N.U.T) Operatic Society.
Funding the new Society was a problem but a loan of £20.00 covered expenses. Pirates was performed for three evenings at Dunsmore School for Boys, in modern dress. The orchestra consisted of an organ and two violins.
The thought of financial flop never entered the minds of the enthusiastic cast. Despite being slated the local press, the show was a success and a profit of £100.00 was realised.
In 1970 and 1971 productions moved to Lawrence Sheriff School, but by then the following had become so big that a move to Rugby Theatre was required.
In 1972 the Society trod the boards of the Henry Street stage for the first time. With the exception of performances of H.M.S. Pinafore in 1978, The Mikado in 1981 and Merrie England in 1982 at Rugby School’s New Theatre, all subsequent productions have been held there.
In 1977 the Society’s name was no longer deemed appropriate, so Rugby Operatic Society came into being.
Barrie Woodward was honoured for serving the Society for 20 years as chairman by being made life President.