New Mills AODS Celebrate 100 Memorable Years: 1922 – 2022

Did we hear someone ask for more? 

From Gilbert and Sullivan to Lerner and Loewe; from the Gershwin Brothers to Noel Gay; from Lehar to Romberg and Rodgers and Hammerstein to Novello, Hermann, Berlin and Lippa.  These are just a few of the composers and lyricists whose operettas and musicals have been staged by the New Mills and District Operatic and Dramatic Society (NMAODS) in the last one hundred years.

Celebrating 100 years, NMAODS has long been established as one of the North West’s oldest musical performance groups.  The society’s main purpose has always been to provide its members with an opportunity to participate in an annual, full scale musical production …a vehicle by which they can exercise their hobby.

When that group of people met in 1922 and conceived the idea of an Operatic Society they could never have envisaged that from their enthusiastic beginnings the Society would not only be staging top class musicals in the next millennium, but would be the proud owner of the 440 seater Art Theatre with a revolving stage, lighting and sound system unheard of all those decades ago.

Whilst the cast is comprised of enthusiastic amateurs, the society employs any creative and technical professionals necessary to assist in the production of a particular show. This may be an amateur group, but it always ensures that professional production standards are met.

NMAODS first production was The Gondoliers late April 1922.  During the Second World War, the Art Theatre Picture Playhouse continued solely as a cinema and hired out occasionally for Sunday concerts in aid of War Relief.  “Live” shows did not return to the stage until 1948 when the “Amateurs” began once more to use the theatre.  Although the Society was formed     primarily to perform musical productions, there was a period in the late forties and early fifties when a series of plays were staged to raise much needed revenue.  Musicals eventually returned in 1952 with No! No! Nanette! whereby the following year, Annie Get Your Gun (1953) was performed at the Art proving to be a real hit. 

In 1959 the then owners of the “Art” closed its doors for good and it was left to the Society to take out several two-year leases on the building before eventually purchasing it outright in 1966, with public support.  It is a credit to the members of that time that their dedication and determination overcame all the obstacles- and there were so many – to make the dream come true.  Any dream will do, right?

NMAODS also conceived “Friends of the Art Theatre ” in 1980, presenting its first panto ‘Babes in the Wood’ in 1981.  Annual pantomimes since then have raised very welcome revenue for the Theatre, as well as attracting young players, many of whom move on to the main shows. 

The Society has also won several notable awards from the Manchester Evening News for Fiddler on the Roof in 1972 and Hello Dolly! in 1975, and the Reporter Group of Newspapers for My Fair Lady in 1981, and in 2022 the National Operatic and Dramatic Association (NODA) North West Best Ensemble (The Von Trapp Children) for The Sound Of Music – 2019.

Following their much-loved production of The Sound of Music, New Mills AODS are back for their 100th Anniversary performing on New Mills Art Theatre stage with another family favourite classic musical (based on Charles Dickens’ novel Oliver Twist) – “Oliver!”  Tickets for Oliver! The Musical are on sale now for all performances on 16-19 November 2022.

So as the society celebrates one hundred years of entertaining the public, having bought itself a theatre on the way – affectionately referred to as ‘The Hidden Gem’.  May the heritage of the past and the pride of the present become the promise for the future.

Did you get the teaser for next year’s show?  Formal announcement will be made in due course.  Stay tuned musical fans!   

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