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Drama group celebrate 75 years taking to the stage

A Shrewsbury drama group is celebrating a major milestone this year and is urging people interested in amateur dramatics to get involved.

Andrew, Maureen and Peter Sandilands in costume for their roles in Abbey Foregate Drama Group's My Fair Lady.
Andrew, Maureen and Peter Sandilands in costume for their roles in Abbey Foregate Drama Group's My Fair Lady.

The Abbey Foregate (SURC)Drama Group, celebrating its 75th anniversary traces its roots to 1947, when performances began at the Abbey Foregate Congregational Church.

In those early days many of the members were from the congregation, and the plays had a religious theme. It was in 1950 that the group looked to perform mainstream plays and their first production was The Importance of being Earnest. The Church joined with the St Nicholas Presbyterian Church in 1975 and became known as Shrewsbury United Reformed Church (SURC).

Helen Bryant, the chair of the organisation, said: "The Abbey Foregate (SURC) Drama Group is well loved by locals with a passion for amateur dramatics, whether that be soaking up the limelight onstage or enjoying the performance from the safety of the auditorium. St Nicholas Hall is where most of productions are staged and the introduction of raked seating on three sides places the audience close to the action, which provides an intimate theatrical experience.

"Throughout the years the group has garnered many awards and festival prizes, has earned rave reviews, and consequently attracted the cream of acting talent from outside the Church."

She said an indication of the group’s reputation was illustrated when it was one of the few amateur organisations nationally granted the licence to perform Calendar Girls.

"This wonderful play was performed at Theatre Severn in 2012 to sell out audiences," she said.

"Profits from early productions were modest, which contrasts to today’s healthy financial situation. The group is now able to donate to a range of charities due to the kindness of the audiences and since 2010 donations have risen over £9,000."

"Loyalty and continuity have ensured that the group has survived the fluctuating fortunes that challenge societies up and down the country. If you would like to be part of their continuing illustrious history, as they celebrate this magical milestone, you can find out how to join by heading to the website abbeydrama.com."

The group's next production is ‘Confusions’, written by Alan Ayckbourn.

It will be on stage from May 31-June 2, directed by Carole-dawn Newcombe, Caroline Hamer and Helen Bryant.

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