100 and counting... Saffron Walden Musical Theatre Company's centenary celebrations

The cast of Saffron Walden Musical Theatre Company's production of Kinky Boots back in March 2022

The cast of Saffron Walden Musical Theatre Company's production of Kinky Boots back in March, when SWMTC members were presented with their centenary certificate from NODA. - Credit: SWMTC

The award-winning Saffron Walden Musical Theatre Company is 100.

SWMTC, previously known as Saffron Walden Amateur Operatic Society, will celebrate 100 years of performing musicals and operettas in the town with a centenary concert this weekend.

The Centenary Celebration Concert of musical theatre favourites from shows the society has performed over the past 100 years will be held on Saturday, June 18 at Saffron Hall.

Tickets are available from www.saffronhall.com/whats-on/view/swmtc-centenary-celebration-concert

SWMTC's founder, Mrs Annie Wycliffe Leverett, the wife of a draper and outfitter in the Essex town, originally formed the Orpheus Orchestra in 1919.

Following successful performances in the Town Hall, it was suggested they should perform Gilbert and Sullivan’s ‘Trial by Jury’ as a concert in 1922.

Due to its success, another G&S, ‘The Sorcerer’, was performed the following year.

In 1924, because of the enjoyment provided by the choral element to both performers and audiences alike, Saffron Walden Amateur Operatic Society (SWAOS) was formed.

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It joined NODA, the National Operatic and Dramatic Association – the national body that represents amateur theatre – and the show chosen was another Gilbert and Sullivan, this time ‘Iolanthe’.

Each subsequent year a production, usually a light comic operetta, was performed by SWAOS in the Town Hall until the unwelcome hiatus of the Second World War.

Undaunted, SWAOS continued by providing entertainment for the troops, helping run the Toc H canteen in King Street, organising Saturday night ‘hops’ at the Town hall and concerts.

In 1975/76, the highly regarded and successful Junior Section (renamed Youth Group in 1986) of the Society was formed with a view to encourage young people from the ages of 11 to 18 years to experience the joy of live performance.

In 2007, to reflect the more modern shows the company's members were performing, the decision was made to rename as Saffron Walden Musical Theatre Company.

A SWMTC spokesperson said: "We are a multi-award winner theatre company with NODA. Most recently we won six awards for our Youth Group's production of Wind In The Willows and one for the adults' production of My Fair Lady.

The cast of Saffron Walden Musical Theatre Company's production of Kinky Boots

The cast of Saffron Walden Musical Theatre Company's production of Kinky Boots - Credit: SWMTC

"Our 2022 main show, Kinky Boots, was a big success, performing to a sold-out audience."

If you wish to read a far more comprehensive history of the company, you will be pleased to know that it is currently being digitised and will be available for all to see on SWMTC's website soon.

More details can be found on www.swmtc.net.