Shrewsbury Musical Theatre Company (SMTC), previously known as Shrewsbury Amateur Operatic Society (SAOS), is celebrating its rich history of 100 years performing musicals in the county town.
SAOS was founded in 1923 and, apart from during the Second World War and the Covid lockdown period, the Society has entertained several generations of audiences made up of the people of Shropshire and beyond.
The past century has seen performances at the Royal County Theatre, the Granada Cinema and the Music Hall, with traditional productions such as The Gondoliers, The Pirates of Penzance and The Mikado as well as Hollywood-inspired shows like Paint Your Wagon, South Pacific and Oklahoma.
More recently, the town’s fabulous Theatre Severn has played host to their productions of Titanic the Musical, Chess, Fiddler on the Roof, Sister Act, Return to the Forbidden Planet, A Tale of Two Cities, Oliver, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Jesus Christ Superstar, The Wizard of Oz and their most recent sell-out production, Ghost – The Musical.
In 2019 the name was changed to Shrewsbury Musical Theatre Company to reflect the community group’s evolution from light opera to West End musicals.
A century on and the Company is still flourishing, drawing on some of the best local talent, whilst continuing to remain inclusive to anyone wishing to join the ensemble. The not-for-profit group also employs hugely experienced creative teams to bring professional-standard musicals to Theatre Severn audiences.
Two very popular premiere productions form part of SMTC’s 100 year celebration in 2023. Tickets are selling fast for Sunshine on Leith, a jubilant, feel-good musical featuring songs from The Proclaimers (30th March – 1st April). Then in November, a talented cast of children and adults will wow all three tiers of the Theatre Severn auditorium.
On June 10th audiences are invited to join members of the company, past and present, for an entertaining concert of musical theatre favourites from the past century, including songs from: Blood Brothers, Oliver, Billy Elliot, Les Miserables, Fiddler on the Roof, Joseph, My Fair Lady and many more.
Tickets for A Century Of Song are on sale at Theatre Severn’s box office. Past members interested in taking part in the concert are invited to get in touch if contact hasn’t been made already: firstname.lastname@example.org.
SMTC are aiming for this concert to form part of a bigger celebration to commemorate a century of fun, laughter, song and dance. They are inviting anyone who has been involved in earlier productions, either on-stage or behind the scenes, even descendants of past members, to get in touch to share their memories, memorabilia, passed-down stories, etc. Similarly, if there are any past audience members with stories to tell, or with old SAOS flyers or programmes to share, do get in touch.
SMTC Committee Member, Karen Muxworthy said, “It would be particularly lovely to give a voice to people who trod the boards with us during the pre or post war years. How amazing would it be to find out what stage-life was like back then? It would to help us to celebrate how far we’ve come, and what we have meant to the community over the years.” Anyone interested should email email@example.com.
The group has been awarded a small grant from the Shrewsbury Town Council Community Fund to put towards a mini-exhibition in June, and it is hoped that they will be successful with an application for further funds from another potential donor that will allow them to go ahead with a more detailed project to collect and preserve old artefacts and shared memories.
If the full history project is able to go ahead, it is hoped that there will be funds in place to offer free training to members of the community interested in the process of Oral History and research interview skills.
One thing is for certain… Shrewsbury Musical Theatre Company is a vibrant part of both the history and the future of Shrewsbury.