The History Of Woodseats MTC
The seeds of the present Society were sown in the early 1940s. Mabel Norton was asked by the Education Committee to form a music class at Woodseats and the first rehearsal; was at Abbey Lane School, but immediately transferred to Woodseats School as a mixed class who put on a production of The Gondoliers at Holmhirst Road Methodist church School Room, with an all female casThey carried on rehearsing and performing, present The Mikado in 1945 at the Teachers Training College. Then in 1946 they returned to the Holmhirst Road Methodist Church School room with Iolanthe.
In 1945 the society was known as The Woodseats Evening School Operatic Society. Then in 1962 it was decided to make the society completely self supporting and was renamed The Woodseats Operatic Society. Throughout the years from 1945 a show was produced every year until 2005 when through no fault of their own performing had to cease due to financial problems.
Just to compare how the costs have changed from the early days to the 21st Century. Tom Jones presented in 1960 cost £450 to stage. Guys and Dolls the last full musical performed in 2005 will have cost in the region of £60,000.
In 1949 due to increases in audiences it was decided to present the shows at the Montgomery Hall and this is where The Woodseats Operatic Society stayed until one dreadful night in May 1971.
Woodseats Rises From The Ashes
A production of "A Country Girl" was well into rehearsal, the Society spirits where high and the Dress Rehearsal on May 3rd indicated a successful week was to follow:
However in the early hours of May 4th Rex White (Chairman and producer at the time) was advised that the Montgomery hall had been gutted by Fire.
The damage was disastrous; the stage area, roof, auditorium of the hall were all badly damaged; the scenery was completely destroyed, 95% of the hired costumes and many personal costumes were also destroyed as were the band parts, members scores and libretti.
It was obvious that "A Country Girl" would be impossible to stage that week. A meeting was held on May 5th with members of the City Council and the Society was offered the City Hall on Thursday and Friday 27th & 28th May.
Offers of help from other Societies was overwhelming and after rehearsals with the members of these various societies the show was performed.
This was a trying and vital time for Woodseats Operatic Society but as usual the membership of this amazing Society came through it and became stronger, and were proud to be the first Society to grace the stage in the new Montgomery Hall with a production of "The Gypsy Baron" in 1972
Woodseats MTC has always been a forward thinking Society and it was in 1989 that "Splinters Theatre Group” was formed as part of the Woodseats Operatic Society with the aim to be a group "run by young people for young people". Many people worked hard to launch this new group, and the success it has achieved and enjoy is testament to the members of Splinters and also Woodseats MTC.
The group was and still is; open to anyone between the ages of 14 – 30 years who are interested in musical shows, either on or off the stage.
Splinters Theatre Group has now got its own Committee and makes all its own decisions but both societies are still linked in many ways mainly with many members belonging to both societies which was the vision of the original founders.
Another Theatre Move
Another milestone for Woodseats Operatic Society was in 1994 when it was decided to take a massive leap and move from the Montgomery Hall to the Lyceum Theatre. This was the culmination of many hours of diligent work and preparation for many people, particularly Paul Wright (Chairman) and Neil Kenyon (Business Manager). With the support of many people, they worked hard to bring "South Pacific" to this prestigious professional theatre. The press reviews were glowing and the whole thing was a brilliant success. It was during their time at the Lyceum Theatre that it was decided to change the name of the society to Woodseats Musical Theatre Company, which is its current name to this day.
Another Set Back
In 2005 a production of Guys and Dolls was booked at the Lyceum theatre. However this coincided with the G8 Summit which was to affect the society greatly.
One night's performance had to be cancelled due to the Lyceum Theatre being closed and people stayed away from the city centre for fear of riots.
This resulted in a massive loss in income and left the Society almost destitute. The amount left in the bank account was nowhere near enough to enable them to present another show for some time.
A New Beginning
Then in 2009 a new Committee was formed and with a lot of hard work, dedication and masses of enthusiasm Woodseats was reborn. In 2010 a review called “Woodseats Meets the West End” was performed. It was a phenomenal success with full houses every night, a profit was made and they were back onto the road of recovery!
Then in 2011 they performed a fantastic review “Woodseats Goes to the Movies”. In 2012 they performed their first full scale musical in seven years with a production of "The Boy Friend", This was also a great success and was followed in 2013 by Kiss Me Kate. They also perform every year at the Woodseats Festival and now present an annual Christmas concert at the beginning of December at the Abbeydale Sports club.
Everyone is very optimistic about the future. A lot of fantastic people are working tirelessly to bring Woodseats MTC to where it belongs, back at the top of the amateur theatre tree.
In 2016 we will take another leap and return to the Montgomery Theatre in Sheffield, back to the city where we belong.
Nothing will keep Woodseats MTC down. It is really exciting to be involved in re-building the company to its former glory and are looking forward to the future because the only way is UP!!
If you would like to become a member of Woodseats MTC please feel free to Contact Us!