IT’S the county’s most popular Scouting show with more than 60 years of history.

But for the first time this year Oxfordshire Gang Show will feature only youngsters.

New director Anthony Morris is ringing the changes and has excluded over 25s from taking part on stage.

The show also has a new venue.

Mr Morris, 47, from Kennington, said: “To fall in line with the Scout Association policy we have taken the decision that only young people will perform.

“Leaders can still be involved, they just won’t be performing on the stage.

“But it has changed the dynamic of the cast.

“We have had youngsters come forward who have shied away from performing solos before because adults were doing them.”

At least 100 young people from the age of eight up to 25 will be dancing and singing in this year’s production at Radley College in Abingdon from Monday, February 18, to Saturday, February 23.

Assistant director, producer and choreographer Kim Griffiths admits some are disappointed with the change.

Miss Griffiths, 51, from Headington, said: “I was a little apprehensive about the decision. I would be lying if I said there wasn’t any disappointment. The over 25s were thoroughly disappointed because it was something they love to do.

“Some of the audience are disappointed as well. It is fun to see the leaders make absolute fools of themselves.

“I think it made it the funny show that it was. But now it’s a new experience.”

Over 25s will now take backstage roles, such as make-up and stage management.

Last year’s director Paul Cox, from Banbury, understood the decision but believed it could cause upset.

He left the role last year as he could no longer commit enough time, but hopes to return in future.

He said: “You’ll find that with these shows people invest a lot of time in them.

“Some people have been in the show for 20-odd years since they were the young ones.

“It is upsetting and disappointing but people realise it is the best thing for the show.

“It is a cliche but the show must go on and it will go on with a younger cast.”

The not-for-profit show has also moved from the New Theatre in Oxford, where it has been held for at least 20 years.

Mr Morris, previously the director of a gang show for 12 years in London, said: “I suppose the main reason is that we weren’t filling the New Theatre, which had 1,700 seats per night. We decided to come out of there because of the financial situation.

“We were always looking over our shoulders thinking are we going to make the show viable?”

The cast are busy rehearsing for the show at Cheney School and at the 10th Oxford Scout HQ in Marston Road.

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