Spotlight feature on our President Derek Brooks who was appointed in 2015 and his wife Elaine who have both been involved with BasOp for many years.
Derek was introduced to BasOp in the late 1980s by his good friends Bob and Freda. Freda was the president of BasOp before Derek and she served for many years as president as well as taking part in many shows. Derek was always happy as an audience member until Freda encouraged him to join BasOp on stage. He had acted in school and at scouts but was actually in his 50’s before he took the plunge and joined BasOp for ‘Oliver’ in 1994. Derek will tell you does not consider himself a singer but he loves to act and has been in almost every show since joining BasOp taking up more of the comedy roles which he both enjoys and is exceptionally good at. Derek finds auditions very nerve racking. Even now he prefers having the audience present as he thrives on the interaction.
Derek takes his commitment to the stage and to BasOp very seriously and can be tough on himself so it is great that his wife Elaine joined BasOp in 2004 as she is a huge support. They have been married since September 2003.
The couple have fond memories being in ‘The Spider Ring’ together, a play which saw them star together as husband and wife. Derek will tell you that Elaine is always singing around the house, he says ‘everybody can sing just some are better than others’.
Elaine’s first show with BasOp was also ‘Oliver’2005 when she took a part in the ladies chorus. She remembers being on a big stage for the first time as great fun. Offstage Elaine is usually a quiet person but when she is playing a character she is full of confidence. Derek and Elaine have always enjoyed the social side of being part of the society and both feel that this is the core of BasOp.
Derek recalls performing a few years back at the outdoor event ‘BasFest’ where he sang the classic ‘I’ve got you under my skin’ by Frank Sinatra. He had an incredible crowd reaction and the performance stands out as a favourite memory.
Derek and Elaine have many memories of shows and would find it impossible to name a favourite but Derek says the most hilarious show was ‘Half a Sixpence’ in 1997. Derek’s eyes light up when he recalls the memories, Robert in the wrong costume, himself being naughty and playing pranks, poor ladies in the chorus got a shock when he hid behind pillar just before curtain up! In 2000 the Towngate Theatre, where BasOp had always performed their main show closed temporarily so instead the group used a large local school ‘Woodlands’ for that year’s show ‘The Pirates of Penzance’. Derek played the part of The Sergeant and he breaks into song whilst talking about his part. Derek remembers the hard work that went into getting the school hall ready and turning it into a theatre. This is where the spirit of BasOp shines through as he recalls members of the Society cleaning windows, running their own bar, one member built a ship as the bar even fixing broken tiles! Everyone was involved and no detail was left to ensure a professional show was put on. Both Elaine and Derek mention the community spirit within the society and express they are pleased to see new people coming in to keep the society going whilst taking the standard even higher! Meeting new people and the social elements are key to the fun and enjoyment of being part of the BasOp family.