Rehearsals are well underway week for the 69th Harpenden Gang Show which will be performed at the Harpenden Public Halls from January 9 to 13.

The 69th gang has been selected from more than 220 applicants from 14 Cub packs, 15 Scout troops and five Explorer Scout units across Harpenden, Wheathampstead and Kimpton.

Four months of rehearsals culminate in six shows – performing a show of singing, dancing and comedy sketches to up to 2,200 people, with 149 people participating this year.

Although there are other shows that claim to be the oldest, for example Glasgow started in 1936, Harpenden Gang Show are rare in that they say they can prove that they have had a continuous run every single year since 1949.

Even a severed electricity cable in 1974 didn’t stop the show. Some parents drove their cars onto the steps of the Public Hall and lit the stage with headlights.

Many Harpenden Gang Show families have been involved since the show’s inception in 1949 with parents and grandparents who were once on stage now helping out behind the scenes.

Producer Ewan Murray has been involved with the Gang Show for 46 years having first been on stage as part of the Gang in 1972. He has been musical director since 1989 and producer since 1994.

Speaking of a lifetime of Gang Show experiences Ewan says: “There’s no buzz quite like the Gang Show buzz – whether back stage, on stage or watching. The sheer joy on the faces of the young performers is a sight to behold, and the audiences come back from far and wide every year.”

Among the crew you will find people that have either professional or at least semi-professional skills in show production. Parents of cast members or previous cast can be found in every team alongside young people “learning the ropes”. As time went on the need for the effects to heighten increased and so they did, this is including pyrotechnics and lead suits for dance numbers, so the methods used by the crew, whether professionals or not, become more sophisticated.

Since the first show in 1949 there has never been an audition to be a cast member in the show and there is a very strong feeling that this should remain. If Scouting young people want to be in the show then it is believed they should have the opportunity.

Once you have been accepted into the Gang, there is then the opportunity to audition for various singing, dancing and speaking roles.

Harpenden Public Halls, Southdown Road, Harpenden, Hertfordshire, AL5 1TE. Details: 01582 767525