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Society History

Manor Musical Theatre Company was formed in 1952 as Manor Operatic Society with performance of Operas and Musical Plays for the encouragement of the Arts and the raising of funds for charitable purposes being the founding objective.

A decision was made in June 2015 to change our name to Manor Musical Theatre Company in an endeavour to encourage younger members and at the same time perform more musicals.

The company has a strong reputation for presenting high quality productions built up over many years. An insight into those early years follows: By 1951, there was only one operatic society in Sutton Coldfield- namely the Emily Broughton Players, who during and immediately after the war had specialised in Gilbert and Sullivan and shows such as Tom Jones, Rebel Maid, The Grand Duchess and "Cav and Pag".

The Sutton Operatic which had performed grand opera under the direction of Victor Fleming and his wife had closed down in the late 1940s. Suddenly, there was a general feeling among the ex-members of the above societies that there was room for another operatic society and a preliminary meeting was held at the home of Harold Burke in July 1952. There were eleven people at this first meeting: Harold, Ivy and Cecily Burke, Dorothy Lewis, Norman Fairey, Stan Finchett, Tommy Dobbin, George Marriott and Ted Vaughan Jones all of whom became long serving members of the society and most playing on stage with distinction.

Many shows were considered for our first production and it was late November 1952 before we decided on A Country Girl with music by Lionel Monckton which was considered attractive and musically interesting without being over-demanding for such a new company. Our show was performed at the Sutton Coldfield Town Hall from the 12th to 16th May 1953 in the presence of members of the cast from "The Archers" - it was well received and a financial success and we gave a donation of 75 guineas to The Infantile Paralysis Fellowship. This was a generous amount in 1953 and it set the company on the road of annual donations to many causes which have always given the company great pleasure. Seat prices were five shillings, three shillings and sixpence and two shillings and sixpence, and we have kept on offering high-quality entertainment for affordable prices to further our goals of encouraging performance art, and being able to give back to charitable causes.

Dr. Harold Burke 1902-1973

Hon LLD (Birm), CEng, Hon FIProdE, FIMechE, FBIM, MSAE

Founder of the Manor Operatic Society and father of Committee President Cecily Gilbert BEM

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