Every few months, we like to turn the spotlight on an AOS member and find out a little more about them. This time it’s our chairman, Joy Skeels.
How did you get involved in musical theatre?
My mother was in Rugeley Operatic Society and I’d always be at rehearsals, eating chocolates with the other children. Then one year I just wanted to join in.
What was the show?
It was Calamity Jane and I was a dance hall girl. I was fourteen years old and I loved it.
And what was your first principal role?
Ah, it was the following year. They were doing Kismet and I was asked to audition for the leading role, Marsinah. It was a bit tricky, because my mother had already auditioned for the part. The last night of the show was my sixteenth birthday.
You’d been bitten by the theatrical bug?
I think you could say that. I had twenty-five years of doing just about every leading female role in musical theatre – all amateur, of course – but it was wonderful. I moved from Staffordshire down to Oxfordshire in the 90s and just carried on doing two big shows each year.
Which have been your favourite roles?
Well, Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady is special – I’ve done that three times. And Calamity Jane is a great part too – I’ve done that twice. It’s hard to choose a favourite really. Camelot, Carousel, Crazy For You – and that’s just the Cs. I think it must be over forty leading roles over the years. It’s my hobby and I love it.
What is it, apart from the need to show off wearing pretty costumes?
Ha ha. Well, there is a bit of that, I can’t deny it. But the feeling of teamwork and camaraderie is so overwhelming too. I’ve got to know so many wonderful, kind, friendly people over the years. I honestly can’t think what my life would have been like without it.
You’re now increasingly directing shows for AOS rather than appearing on stage. How do you find that?
Yes, that’s right. My first was Crazy For You in 2012 and since then I’ve directed Sweet Charity, Barnum, Sister Act, 2019’s My Fair Lady. and 2020’s All Shook Up. It’s a different sort of challenge. I’ve worked with some wonderful directors over the years and I just try and take the best things from each. But show week is very weird – everyone else is madly busy and my work is done. It’s very strange not to be involved.
And you manage to fit in being AOS chairman too?
Yes, I became chairman in 2016. I’ve served on the committee in several societies in the past and been chairman of different groups twice before. I think that if you get a lot of pleasure from a hobby, it’s important to give something back. When there’s work to be done – and there’s a lot involved in keeping groups like this alive – I believe in stepping forward and doing my bit. I want other people – new members particularly – to experience the pleasure I’ve had over all those years.
And what’s next for you?
Well, I’m directing Carousel in 2021, but apart from that, who knows? Perhaps I might find a role in a future show, or just enjoy being a part of the AOS chorus on stage.
Thanks for your time, Joy.
No problem, web person 🙂