Leven Amateur Musical Association: 150th anniversary of a great Fife institution
The association was formed after the presentation of a bill inviting the inhabitants of Leven and the surrounding area, interested in forming “a society having for its object the practice of vocal music of the upper class”, to attend a meeting Wednesday, October 16, 1872.
Minutes of that meeting show that 45 people expressed interest and Reverend Duncan offered to use his town school for rehearsals.
Seven days later, the society met for the first time – and the Leven Amateur Musical Association was born.
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With a membership of 158 and a subscription of six shillings (30p), the association staged a production aptly named “The Creation” which marked the beginning of the society.
From its inception in 1872 to 1915 the company ran regular shows which included Trial by Jury, HMS Pinafore, Patience, The Mikado and The Pirates of Penzance but had to halt productions due to the escalation of the First World War world.
After a five-year hiatus, the association returned once more in 1920 to stage elaborate productions and musicals, but with the onset of World War II the group closed again in 1940 – and would not reform for another seven years.
Returning to the stage in 1947, the association has been a regular fixture at Leven ever since, wowing audiences over the years with their great renditions of famous productions.
In 1977, LAMA took up residence at the Centre, Leven, where he rehearses and stages his shows.
Over the years, the association’s stage sets have been adapted to the facilities available, which, in turn, means the production team is able to produce neater shows with a more professional appearance.
Striving to produce musicals that audiences enjoy, the company has presented shows as diverse as The New Moon, The Land of Smiles, Camelot, Anything Goes and 42nd Street.
In 2011, an exciting development emerged that hoped to secure LAMA’s future for many years to come as LAMA Youth were formed and presented their first show in 2012.
More than 50 young people aged 10 and over came together to put on a specially created concert-show with songs and dances taken from various musicals.
The association hopes that young people who participate and acquire training in musical theater at a young age will become members of the main company.
This year’s production of Oliver was an inspired choice for LAMA’s 150th anniversary, as it provided a rare opportunity for the junior members to perform alongside the adults.
The show was very well received and sold out – a fitting return to the stage after two years due to COVID.
Next year’s show, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., is sold out, and the company is already looking forward to starting rehearsals in the fall.
Laurence Crowe (77) has played a major role in LAMA since his first participation in 1967 when he was only 23 years old. He has since starred in several productions.
He said: “I remember I was looking for a hobby, and when I first went to see what LAMA was, everyone was so welcoming and friendly – after one night I was hooked!
“Over the years I’ve been everything at LAMA, from president to producer to stagehand, I’ve always been very actively involved.
“We obviously had a dip when COVID hit, but it was great to get back to doing what LAMA does best.”
Laurence said that over the years he has had the pleasure of performing in various productions, but one of his most memorable performances was when he starred alongside his wife, Kathleen, in The Sound of Music.
He said. “That was over 40 years ago, but it still holds a special place in my heart because I played alongside my wife, who played Maria, and I played Von Trapp.
“Other productions I’ve enjoyed over the years include My Fair Lady and Kismet, but to tell you the truth, every show has been special.
“I really enjoyed my time with LAMA.
“The association can really attract people because it’s so much fun.” He described the closeness that comes with being part of society.
“There have been a lot of special people who have been a part of him, and he is renowned for being friendly, welcoming and is often seen as part of one big happy family.”
Lynsey Stuart, President of LAMA, said, “It has been a great honor to serve as President for our 150th year.
“Bringing musical theater back to Leven after two years has been fabulous and it was great to see so many familiar faces among the supporting audience.
“LAMA is a very friendly company and everyone involved is part of the LAMA family. We also have a lot of family ties within our group.
“My grandfather was president in 1967 – the same year my mother joined him – and my husband went to shows as a kid and helped out behind the scenes.
“This year I had the chance to perform on stage with my daughter, my mother and my mother-in-law, so it’s a real family affair.
“We look forward to doing it again later in the year for our next 9 to 5 production.”