Many of the Costa del Sol's amateur music and theatrical groups are busy preparing for their winter shows and Christmas performances, and none more so than The Andalusian Performing Arts Society, or TAPAS, as it is affectionately known.
Based in Alhaurín el Grande, this popular theatrical group and choir are presenting a series of shows to coincide with Halloween, Armistice Day and Christmas. As in previous years, productions will include carol concerts, music hall shows and a pantomime, which, for this year, they have chosen a production of Aladdin.
TAPAS, which was started in 2004, has built an admirable reputation for promoting performing arts along the Costa del Sol, and there are currently more than 60 active members. The theatrical society is a registered NGO and all of their productions are staged to raise funds for charity. Over the years they have raised over 15 thousand euros for different charitable organisations in the province of Malaga. These have included Lux Mundi, Cudeca, Debra, the Malaga children's home and several animal welfare organisations. The group has also helped in times of crisis, performing concerts to raise funds for the victims of local forest fires and floods.
Along with helping others and promoting art, the theatrical society aims to give people the chance to either act on stage or perform in a choir, even if they have not done so before.
A royal audience
Although predominantly performing in English, the group, which comprises a 35-voice choir and a theatrical cast of around 20, welcomes members of all nationalities. It has appeared in diverse locations and functions, including a gala event which was attended by Spanish royalty.
"Although it was before my time with the society, members still talk about being invited to sing in the presence of Spanish royalty. A cousin of Queen Sofía is patron of an Aids charity, and TAPAS was asked to perform some years ago when she made a visit to the Costa for an event to raise funds for the charity," Angela Stopforth, the group's publicity officer, tells SUR in English.
The choir is directed by Kevin Turner, who is assisted by his wife Suzanne. All of the singers are amateur and anyone who can hold a note is welcome to join. There is no audition and the ability to read music is not needed, but the desire to enjoy singing is.
The theatre group traditionally presents three shows a year and these will include murder mystery and light-hearted comedy, pantomime and a Christmas show. The festive productions are staged in conjunction with the choir and some of the most popular have been Cinderella, A Christmas Carol and Christmas in Aspen.
"We are regarded as one of the most popular music and drama societies in the area. 2018 has been one of our busiest years yet and we have lots more events before the end of the year. We choose two charities every year and this year we are supporting Debra, the butterfly children's charity based in Marbella; and Arca Noah, the Alhaurín el Grande-based animal charity," TAPAS chairman, Bob Stopforth, explains.
The society also offers an active social side, with regular meetings and activities, such as the annual car treasure hunt, the Krazy Kraft Club, a collaborative tuition guitar group and day trips to museums and sights.
TAPAS has progressed with increasing success over the years, however not all of its members are performers. Some prefer to be behind the scenes, working as stage hands, lighting and sound technicians and wardrobe assistants. The society is always looking to welcome new members, whether they prefer to be treading the boards, or keeping the show running smoothly backstage.
"If you enjoy being in front of an audience acting or singing, then we would like to hear from you. We have a friendly atmosphere and we focus on enjoying ourselves with the music and productions, while benefitting various charities. There is a good social aspect to being a member too and a strong network to help out anyone in need," Angela concludes.
The TAPAS choir will perform at the Royal British Legion Armistice service in Coín cemetery on Sunday 11 November. The choir will also sing at the Mijas town hall's Christmas concert on Thursday 13 December.
The production of Aladdin will take place in El Palacio, Coín, on Friday 23 and Saturday 24 November.
For more information, see www.tapassociety.com