Following a Scout concert for his local Scout Group, Ralph Reader devised the first Gang Show in 1932 to raise funds to build a swimming pool at a scout campsite near London at the request of the London County Commissioner. Ralph wrote the music, lyrics and sketches and produced the Show.
It was called “The Gang’s All Here” because, when they were urgently trying to come up with a title, one of the youngsters came up to Ralph to tell him that everyone had finished their break and were ready to restart rehearsal using those very words.
The Gang soon proved their worth and raised sufficient to build the pool. Lord Baden-Powell visited the Show and expressed the wish that Ralph mount another Show as it was great publicity for the Scout Movement. This was the start of something very big.
Ralph Reader was well known in theatrical circles on both sides of the Atlantic. He had performed in, choreographed and directed several Shows on Broadway and in London’s West End. Because of this, he wrote for Gang Show under the nom-de-plume of “A Holborn Rover” as he was concerned that it could affect his professional career.
However his secret was found out as it soon became widely known that he was that Rover Scout. He was widely praised for the Show. In 1937 a cinema film was made of the London Gang Show with the Gang and featuring Ralph.
Before long other Gangs had formed using Ralph’s music and format. They spread throughout Britain and other parts of the world as far apart as U.S.A. and Australia. Truly it is said that somewhere in the world there is a Gang Show playing on every night of the year.
Crest of a Wave is the Gang Show anthem and the Stirling Gang always sing it during each of their productions as a link with Gang Show members everywhere and because we like it. It was initially written as the first half Finale for the 1936 Gang Show and quickly became a firm favourite.
During the second world war Scout Gang Shows were put on hold but Ralph became a Squadron Leader in the R.A.F. where he was in charge of organising concert parties for the troops. He travelled to many places using the entertainment as a cover whilst also undertaking intelligence duties. Crest of a Wave was also sung at the start and end of every R.A.F Gang Show.
Ralph Reader “went home” in 1982 having been awarded the M.B.E. and C.B.E. during his lifetime of service and leaving a wonderful legacy in Gang Show for the Scout Movement.