A Potted History of the Early Years
In 1886 the first Burton Operatic Society was formed and this continued, in one form or another, to just before the outbreak of the Second World War. Most of the shows were staged in the purpose built Opera House, situated in George Street before, with the growing popularity of films, being converted into the Ritz cinema in 1934.
At the beginning of 1951 an item appeared in the Burton Daily Mail inviting interested people to a meeting to look into the possibility of forming a new operatic society.
Enough people came forward to enable the Burton-on-Trent and District Operatic Society to be formed. Margaret Sheardown, her future husband, Geoff Wendon, and a small committee then had the task of implementing the interest shown into positive action.
The Gilbert and Sullivan operetta The Gondoliers was the first show the committee decided to produce. Auditions were held and the principal parts cast. Rather uniquely, two people shared most of the secondary parts, over the week. The Gondoliers was performed in February 1952 at the Little Theatre in Guild Street.
After the First Show
The show was well received with full houses most of the week. In November 1952, the society continued with a second Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, The Mikado. By now the society had the feel for who should take the principal parts so there was no more sharing of roles.
Patience was produced in October 1953, and in May 1954, HMS Pinafore. In 1957 The Society moved to Hillside School (now Paulet High School) for its production of The Yeomen of the Guard. After 4 years at Hillside the Society moved venues to Horninglow Secondary School, in Harehedge Lane, for a repeat production of the Gondoliers. We still use this venue to this day, although now it is known as de Ferrers Academy.
In 1973, the Society rented premises in Ferry Street which they later purchased, and still use today as rehearsal rooms and a workshop in which to build their lavish sets.
Recent History and Name Change
We received a letter from the Queen when we celebrated 60 years in 2012.
The society decided to change its name in 2014, as it was felt that we did not sing opera but produced more musicals. We became known as The Burton Musical Theatre Company.
We go from strength to strength and have recently won the NODA Award for the Best Musical in Area 3 for our 2018 production of Sister Act, and joint winners for the same award for Legally Blonde in 2019. We have an excellent stage crew who build our sets and a technical team to support our productions.