Based at St. Judes Theatre in Weston-super-Mare, we are an award-winning amateur musical theatre company whose main aim is to produce stage musicals. We perform a wide variety of shows in order to bring to the public both musicals that are well-known and those that they might otherwise never get the opportunity to see. We currently perform two shows a year at Weston-super-Mare’s main theatre, The Playhouse, usually during the week following Easter and in late October.
The Society also trains a large group of children in theatre arts. Called ‘The Oppitts’, members range from 6 – 16 years old. Each year they will perform in thier own production. Recent productions have included ‘Cats’ and ‘The Wizard of Oz’, but many of the children have also appeared in our main productions at the Playhouse Theatre. They have featured prominently in shows such as ‘Oliver’, ‘The Sound of Music’, ‘The King and I’ and ‘The Music Man’. In 2008 they featured in our multi-award-winning show ‘The Secret Garden’ and then the following year in our production of Andrew Lloyd Webber & Tim Rice’s ‘The Likes of Us’.
Alongside our main shows we often have smaller productions performed at St. Jude’s Theatre. These include cabaret shows, a Christmas celebration, and staged musicals. There is also the annual 200 club cabaret. Offstage we hold an annual Dinner Dance and other social/fund-raising events. We also have a team of people who build the senery and make props for our various productions, work backstage managing and moving scenery and who work front of house welcoming people and selling programmes.
There is always a lot going on and we are always on the lookout for new members, both on and off stage. Please check the Membership page if you are interested in joining us. 16s and under, follow the link to the Oppitts site.
The Society was founded in 1908 with its first production, “The Pirates of Penzance” being performed in 1909. From this time we staged just the one show a year. Inevitably the society was unable to stage any shows between 1914 and 1920 and then again from 1940 to 1947 due to the two World Wars. Despite the outbreak of war, the society were still able to provide some entertainment for the people of Weston with a production of “Iolanthe” at the begining of 1940, but could not do so again until 1947. Between the wars and since its return in 1947 the society has flourished. The membership grew and some very well known and influential members of the community belonged to the Society. In 1961 the society performed two shows “South Pacific” and “The Mikado” and has be staging two full productions ever since, along with smaller groups performing concerts and cabarets on request. During the 1980’s and 1990’s a weekly cabaret show was performed at The Playhouse by request of the Town Council to provide entertainment for the holidaymakers. For the last few years, the Society has staged small very successful productions at St Judes Theatre during the summer months which have proved to be extremely popular with our members and patrons.
Following on the success of The Oppitts formation, it was realised that there was a gap for the in-between age groups of 14 – 18 where the children needed a more adult type of show to display their talents. Nesta Shearman, an accomplished actress, singer and musician and long-standing member of the Society; Joline Alexander, who was the Society’s Choreographer and the head of the Alexander School of Dancing and Bee Beasley, a long term friend and associate of Joline Alexander therefore decided to form The Youth Theatre Workshop. Nesta acted as Musical Director, Joline was the Choreographer and Bee directed the youngsters with many other adult members of the society helping backstage. Altogether 14 productions were staged at St Judes; including shows such as ‘Smike’, ‘The Boyfriend’, ‘Love from Judy’, ‘Godspell’, ‘Pippin’, ‘The Card’ and ‘The Match Girls’ were performed with a cast of between 15 – 25 youngsters. Their successful collaboration continued over many years during which time many youngsters went on to train at London Stage Schools. Others were happy to stay in Weston and become members of the main society, where they remain to this day. Sadly, Joline’s untimely death whilst on a cruise brought an end to this partnership and the ‘Workshop’, as it was affectionately known, was eventually disbanded.
The Society purchased St. Jude’s Hall in 1978. Many members, both past and present raised funds for its purchase. Considerable refurbishment took place over the following years which have made it into a rehearsal hall and small theatre. With its new name, St Judes Theatre is now our home. It is our primary rehearsal venue and the performance space for our smaller-scale summer and winter productions. It is also available for hire.