Staines Musical Theatre Group is a friendly society that provided quality music and entertainment to the Staines community for over 50 years.
We meet at St Paul's Church Hall, Thorpe Road, Staines TW18 3HJ, next to Magna Carta School. We rehearse on Mondays from 8pm to 10pm. Nearer to showtime we then also rehearse on Wednesdays, and rehearsals start at 7.30pm.
Please contact us if you would like to join as an acting member, helping behind-the-scenes or become a patron.
In 1966 Alan and Gwen Davies put an advert in the local paper for members to form a new group to sing and perform musical shows. The first meeting was on a cold wet evening in Laleham Village Hall, but fortunately, enough people turned up to form the group. The local paper in September 1966 states that it was agreed that the club should be called ‘The New County Light Opera Club’, and that the first production was to be a Music Hall followed by Gilbert and Sullivan’s ‘Trial by Jury’.
At the start, Alan and Gwen allowed rehearsals to be held in their house, and in the run up to the show, built and painted the scenery in their garage. However, when the club membership outgrew Alan and Gwen’s home, the rehearsals moved to Laleham Village Hall (which just happened to be conveniently close to ‘The Feathers’ and ‘The Turks Head’). From 1967 the club put on two major shows a year at St Peter's Church Hall, Staines.
Among the other early member of the group were husband and wife, Percy and Maureen Raison. Both were lifelong members, Percy becoming Business Manager of the group and Maureen singing and acting, taking many lead roles over the years. Percy’s job as a lock-keeper at Penton Hook put him in contact with people from all walks of life, one of those being Jack Warner, famous for his role as Dixon of Dock Green. He was invited to become President of the group, an invitation which he readily accepted. Louise Smith, another of the group's founder members, remembers him as a very courteous man who attended shows when his schedule allowed him to do so, and was overheard to remark after seeing Gilbert and Sullivan’s ‘Ruddigore’ for the first time, “If that’s Ruddigore, it’s ruddy marvellous”.
Other famous names associated with the club during those early days as Vice Presidents have been Mr Raymond Baxter OBE (BBC commentator), Glynn Edwards (actor in Minder) and more recently Mr Johnny Briggs MBE (aka Mike Baldwin in Coronation Street).
In 1976 the club changed its name to be associated more closely with Staines, and became ‘Staines Light Operatic Society’ or SLOS for short. For their production of ‘Merrie England’ in 1969 the club moved from St Peter's Church Hall to Staines Town Hall, where it stayed until the 1990’s when the Town Hall was converted into an Arts Centre. Staines Town Hall was a hall with loads of charm. However, even before its conversion it was never really the ideal performance venue, having limited changing space and absolutely no space to store scenery in the wings. (Well - actually there were no wings.)
While the conversion was taking place SLOS went through an unsettling time and moved to Chertsey Hall for several years. When the Staines Town Hall re-opened as an Arts Centre it became clear that it was no longer suitable for groups such as ours, so a search began for another performance venue. It was around that time that the Magna Carta School put in an application for a lottery grant to change their ordinary school hall into a theatre. SLOS joined the local groups supporting the venture and in 1998 SLOS became the first group to perform in the new Theatre with ‘Half a Sixpence’.We are rather proud to be able to say that we were awarded ‘The NODA Award for Excellence’ for that show.
With a mind to keeping up with the times, in 2001 the group changed its name yet again. This time, from Staines Light Operatic Society to Staines Musical Theatre Group. It was felt that ‘Musical Theatre’ was a better description of what the group actually does. Hopefully, the name and the group will continue far into the future.