About Hyde Little Theatre
For many years Hyde Light Opera Company had a drama group performing plays and entering drama festivals. This drama group continued to attract growing interest and it was decided to form a new society to perform plays on a regular basis at the Festival Theatre in Hyde. The Operatic company gave a contribution of £50 to help set up the new dramatic society.
The new society was established and founded in 1967 by Keith Mowl, Robert Atkins and Duncan Backhouse under the name of Hyde Little Theatre.
The society performed its first production that year, this was the comedy ‘Billy Liar’ a popular and topical choice at the time.
Needless to say they hadn’t got a home, nowhere to store scenery, props or the like. So for the next twenty years garages, lockups, people’s houses and the last resort was on the balcony of Union Street Sunday School hoisted up by ropes. Meetings were held in the Green Room of the Unity Pub on Croft Street in Hyde: sandwiches were supplied free of charge.
Throughout the 1970’s a steady growth in membership and support continued and the society became a familiar name in Greater Manchester amateur theatre, performing three plays and a Pantomime each year.
By the end of the decade and into the 1980’s the need for a proper home became apparent, meetings and social events often taking place in ‘The Unity’ public house and rehearsals being held in unsuitable locations.
The quest for a regular home began and thoughts became focused on the derelict Miles Redfern social club at the top of Market Street in Hyde. Inspired by Chairman Keith Mowl it was decided to go ahead and make an offer for the premises. The necessary formalities were finalised and the property secured in 1985.
Subjected to years of neglect and vandalism the hard task of renovation seemed daunting to say the least but members toiled for long hours and on Sunday, April 6th 1986, Hyde Little Theatre celebrated a memorable day when the building was officially opened and named Studio 9. After 19 years, our society finally had a home!
Since that memorable day progress has continued and Studio 9 today is a fine headquarters that any group would be proud of. The society today is a successful organisation dedicated to bring the best in amateur theatre to the people of Hyde.
Hyde Little Theatre has been fortunate in having a hard core of loyal members both past and present and their efforts and dedication have been in invaluable. Today the society has four life members John Rothwell, Janice Haughton, Stan Knowles and Brian Ashley -all awarded the honour for their services dating back to the formation of HLT.
The society continues to grow and develop and this year we celebrated our 50th Anniversary of bringing quality amateur theatre to the people of Hyde. To celebrate, our year kicked-off with the reproduction of our first ever show, Billy Liar.
In July 2017 we held our first Summer Fair, in September, we hosted a celebratory Golden Anniversary Dinner Dance attended by members, friends and family and in October we launched our brand new website. The future looks to be continually bright and golden for one of the North West’s premier AmDram societies.
— o0o —
There have been many over the years but some stand out for special reasons.
1970: “The Heiress.” Our first play to be costumed by The Royal Exchange.
1974: “Cinderella.” In 1974 things were getting desperate, we had £2.14.6d in the bank. So the Pantomime was born. “Cinderella “ was written by members of the society and fortunately it gave us new life -and an opportunity for the children of our regular actors to get involved!
1979: “Lock up your Daughters” was performed at the Royal Exchange in Manchester, to great acclaim.
1981: “Virtue in Danger” was a bawdy romp. We played 4 performances at the Festival Theatre then up sticks and on Friday played at Buxton Opera House and back again for our final performance in Hyde on Saturday night!
1984: “Canterbury Tales” The first play to be rehearsed in Studio 9. This was also performed at Buxton Opera House needing the same dexterity but with even more complicated props.
1994: Our 100th Production was celebrated with a week’s performance of “Fifteen Streets” A great success all round.
2010: The Junior group played “Around the World with class Six” in the GMDF All England Finals which took place in Thurrock, London. Here, they won the Buxton Cup.
2017: Our 50th anniversary! Our seasons started with an anniversary production of our first play ‘Billy Liar’ and ended with our Pantomime, Robin Hood, winning the ‘Best Pantomime’ at the GMDF awards. We celebrated with a 50th Anniversary Dinner Dance.