Nestled in an ex-military hut, in the middle of Donnington, is a precious community theatre, which is celebrating 60 wonderful, dramatic – and melodious – years. Built during the Second World War, ‘The Little Theatre’ possesses a colourful past. Before finally being converted into a theatre by Units of Donnington Garrison and the drama enthusiasts, the building was used as a gymnasium, shooting range, store house and lecture hall – all part of the wartime COD Donnington complex, which opened in May 1940. Within this small venue a number of societies, with names such as: The Cascades, The Estateers and The Orpheus Society used both amateur and professional talent to perform concerts, shows, pantomimes and plays. In the early 1950’s, however, they came together and called themselves Donnington Garrison Amateur Dramatic and Operatic Society and their first production was ‘The Light of Heart’ in 1952. Finally, in January 1954, The Little Theatre was born with the first show being the pantomime Robinson Crusoe. Their first Gilbert and Sullivan show, The Mikado, debuted 5 years later in 1959 and some of that cast are still active members today.
Moving forward 20 years, the theatre underwent a re-vamp. With financial support from the army and society funds, members worked together and the new look theatre opened its door in July 1977 with ‘A funny thing happened on the way to the forum’. Unfortunately, disaster struck 1 year later on 23rd September 1978. Only hours before the opening of ‘The Pirates of Penzance’ fire gutted the stage area, burning the newly installed electrical equipment, with smoke damage badly affecting the dressing room and auditorium. Determined not to be beaten, members, with the support of the army, set about raising and re-building the theatre at an estimated cost of £60,000. Moving into the 1980s, a Community Programme Project meant another re-vamp was possible and the theatre replaced the auditorium toilets, installed a disabled toilet and replaced the existing bar with a dual-purpose rehearsal room and bar. Unfortunately, before the work was complete the army had to withdraw from financially supporting the theatre and the society became independent in April 1987. They took the name, ‘The Little Theatre Donnington Society’ and launched with The Sound of Music. Up to present day, the building that houses this special piece of history is rented from Telford and Wrekin council on a full maintenance lease. It is managed by a small committee of members whose job is to continue the long established tradition of providing dramatic entertainment for the people of Telford and beyond. Members work tirelessly to present two plays, an opera, a musical and a pantomime annually, whilst turning up throughout the year to help maintain the building.
Having recently celebrated the society’s special milestone Jubilee its Executive committee, Patrons and Members look forward to seeing you in the future and welcoming you to another 60 years (and beyond) of entertainment.
A warm welcome is waiting for you behind these doors.
In 2015 our Foyer had a makeover. A small team of members spent a couple of weeks creating a very warm welcome for all visiting the theatre.
The focal point of any theatre. Heading up our 250 seater auditorium.
Come and visit for one of the next shows. You'll be glad you did.