Dukinfield Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society has, for the past seventy years or so, provided top quality entertainment for the people of Dukinfield and the surrounding areas. With either a golden oldie or a brand new release musical and plays, Dukinfield AODS could be counted on to provide a fantastic hobby for many local people.

 Formed in 1946, the Society is actually a re-formation of the original Dukinfield Operatic Society from 1907 which performed many famous and popular musical comedies at various venues within the town. It disbanded in 1927 and remained defunct until a public meeting was held in November 1945 at the Town Hall for anyone interested in reviving Dukinfield’s operatic society. Many members of the original society, the Crescent Road Musical Society and the Musical Comedy Players all came together and the present Dukinfield Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society was born, presenting its first production ‘Betty’ at the Jubilee Hall, Dukinfield in October 1946. 

Jubilee Hall, Dukinfield

Ebenezer Methodist Church and Sunday School, Dukinfield

By 1948, the society had grown to such an extent, that the Committee decided a bigger venue was required, and so the society moved a mile down the road to Ashton-under-Lyne. It played at both the Theatre Royal and the New Empire which later became the ABC, Tameside Theatre, Tameside Hippodrome and also the society’s home from 1951 – 2007.

Theatre Royal, Ashton Under Lyne

From the early 1950s, DAODS regularly performed a musical in the Autumn at the New Empire, Ashton and a play in the Spring, back at the Jubilee Hall in Dukinfield until regular plays ceased in 1971, with a ‘one-off’ revival in 1983 at the Hippodrome.

 Since the mid-1950s, large-scale, then new musical productions such as ‘Oklahoma!’ in 1955 and in 1957, ‘Carousel’ (which attracted a company of ninety), had been creeping into Dukinfield’s musical show choices and hadn’t gone un-noticed by rights-holders. The society, along with Ashton OS and playing in the New Empire, a theatre with such great facilities and boasting a capacity of 1,274 seats, began acting as a showcase ‘shop window’ for the said rights-holders periodically when ‘new releases’ became available. No expense was spared when presenting shows such as ‘Hans Andersen’, ‘42nd Street’ and ‘Copacabana’. However, on Wednesday 25th September 1968, the curtain went up at the then ABC Theatre, Ashton on the first of twelve performances of probably the most famous of all Dukinfield AODS’s ‘new releases’, Alan J. Lerner and Frederick Loewe’s masterpiece, My Fair Lady. Boasting many hit numbers, including ‘I Could Have Danced All Night’‘On the Street Where You Live’ and, of course the rousing ‘Get Me to the Church on Time’, the show was perfect for a large operatic society.

There had been a buzz within amateur operatic circles during the mid-60s, as to when ‘M.F.L.’ would be released for amateur performance. Many societies had their names down to be considered, but it was Dukinfield who was granted the northern amateur premier, for performance in Autumn1968. The Officials and core membership of the society were delighted and the production attracted a full company of forty-nine, playing to packed houses at every performance. 
The ABC, Ashton continued to operate as a cinema throughout the 60s and early 70s with Dukinfield AODS presenting a show in the autumn and Ashton OS in the spring. However, during the early 70s, the ABC had begun to follow the trend that countless other cinemas and theatres had followed – decline in patronage. The owners, EMI Cinemas and theatres Ltd had a strategy to counteract the problem – a joint venture with Star Cinemas (London) Ltd whereby Star submitted an application for a bingo licence for the ABC in March 1974. Along with Mecca who owned the adjacent Tiffany’s nightclub, Dukinfield AODS and Ashton OS immediately joined forces to oppose the application, led by the then Secretary of Dukinfield AODS, Norma M. Deane. The campaign to save the theatre had begun. A stall on Ashton Market was hired for two consecutive Saturdays where members of both societies urged the general public to SOS, “Save Our Societies”, with members also petitioning elsewhere. A total of 15,856 signatures were submitted with the objection, along with those of the MPs of both towns and many other national and local organisations. At the same time, discussions were taking place with the fledgling Tameside MBC with a view to the council taking over the building for use as a civic theatre. Members of both societies attended then hearing at the Magistrates Court on May 1st1974 and were overjoyed when Star’s application was refused on the grounds that there were already enough bingo halls in the area. EMI had stated that if the application was refused, the theatre would probably close, and the venue showed its final film as the ABC on March 31st 1975. The following day Tameside MBC took a twenty-one year lease on the venue and after much investment, reopened in as Tameside Theatre on March 15th 1976 with “The Vince Hill Spectacular”.
In recognition of her magnificent spearheading and tireless campaigning, Norma M. Deane was awarded a Manchester Evening News Oscar in 1975, the only one ever awarded for a non-acting achievement. 
 
From 1992 to 2008, the management of the theatre was leased out to various different companies and the name was changed to Tameside Hippodrome. The last company, Live Nation did not want to renew their contract and the theatre ultimately closed on March 31st 2008, with a view towards a new company taking over and a massive refurbishment taking place. Unfortunately, the theatre remains closed to this day, and both Dukinfield and Ashton Operatic Societies lost their very comfortable home

Tameside Hippodrome, Ashton-Under Lyne

 
Since the closure of Tameside Hippodrome in 2008, Dukinfield AODS has performed its annual musical at the George Lawton Hall, Mossley from 2009.  The Dramatic side of the society was revived in 2017, recommencing annual plays with the comedy ‘Sailor Beware’being presented from 16th to the 18th March 2017 at Dukinfield Methodist Church Hall – the first time the society had played in its home town for forty-six years! 

George Lawton Hall, Mossley          

    Dukinfield Methodist Church, Dukinfield

Some former members of Dukinfield AODS have performed professionally either on television, on the West End and touring stage, abroad or in all three. These include the present Choreographer Jean Johnson, who performed a twenty year stint as a professional Dancer in South Africa during the 1970s, 80s and 90s, Meg Johnson – Pearl Ladderbanks in ‘Emmerdale’ – who directed the 1992 production of ‘The Dancing Years’, Jean Ashworth, Tony Smart, Frank Lee White and Kevin Williams turned professional during the 1960s, Christopher Howard during the 1980s and most recently, Jennifer Caldwell, Ian Curran, Simon Schofield and Mike Ward.  

Miss Norma Deane

AWARDS TO THE SOCIETY

Manchester Evening News Opera Cup

Best musical production of the season:

1970 – “The Sound of Music” 1977 – “No, No, Nanette”

Manchester Evening News Oscars

1957 – Jack Webb, for the role of Jigger Craigin in “Carousel”

1968 – Bryan Lingwood, for the role of Professor Higgins in “My Fair Lady”.

1975 – Norma M. Deane, for her work resulting in the foundation of Tameside Theatre.

The Reporter Awards Scheme:

The Charles Fletcher Rose Bowl for “Show of the year”
1980 – “Irene” (1979)
1985 – “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers”

(1984)

Individual Awards:

1979 – Suzanne Mather, Best leading Lady for Magnolia in “Show Boat” (1978)

1980 – Jean Ashworth, Choreographer of the year for “Irene” (1979)

Kevin C. Howarth joint winner of Producer of

the Year for “Irene” (1979)
1982 – Don Andrew, Best Leading Man for Cosmo

Constantine in “Call Me Madam” (1981) 1985 – “Seven Brides For Seven Brothers” (1984)

Kevin C. Howarth, Jean Ashworth and Michael Baron won awards respectively for Producer, Choreographer and Musical Director.

1987 – Michael Baron, Musical Director of the year for “The Quaker Girl” (1986)

1991 – Andrew White, Musical Director of the year for “Fiddler on the Roof” (1990)

Reporter Award for Services to Amateur Theatre:

N.O.D.A. North-West Region Awards

2001 – Jean Ashworth, Choreographer of the year for “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” (2000)

2008 – Victoria Schofield, Best Supporting Actress for Miss Dorothy Brown in “Thoroughly Modern Millie” (2007)

Lifetime Special Achievement Award:

2004 -Norma M. Deane, for her Services to Amateur Theatre in the North-West

Poster and Programme Awards:

Owen Peacock Memorial Trophy

1982 – “Call Me Madam” (1981): Commended.

Bill Lyth Trophy Best Souvenir Programme of the season:
1986 – “Hans Andersen” (1985)
1988 – “Hello, Dolly” (1987)

2007 – “Carousel” (2006)

The Poster for the 1986 production of
“The Quaker Girl” won the N.O.D.A. poster competition followed in 1994 and 1995 with a Highly Commended for “42nd Street” and “No, No, Nanette”, respectively.

The Manchester Musical Awards:

2013 – Jean Ashworth, Best Choreographer for “The Music Man” (2012)

2017 – Daniel Winters, Best Comedy Performance for Carmen Ghia in “The Producers” (2016) 2018 – Adjudicators Award: The Dancers, “A slick,

entertaining and professional performance throughout” for “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” (2017)

Association of Community Theatre Spotlight Awards:
2012 – David Noble, Most Original Comedy

Performance in a Musical for The Honourable Gerald Bollingbroke in
“Me and My Girl” (2011)
Anne Emmerson, Special Award; Most

1983 – Jim Kellett 1987 – George Wood

1986 – Norma M. Deane 1990 – Eric A. Dyson

Committed to Theatre:
2013 – The Society for two categories;

Most Accomplished Musical Ensemble and Most Original Group Dance Performance for “The Music Man” (2012)

2014 – The Society for two categories;
Most Original Production Concept and Most Accomplished Musical Ensemble for “Chess” (2013)
Sheila Marshall; Inducted into the ACT Hall of Fame

2015 – Scott Lees, Most Original Comedy Performance in a Musical for Jerry/Daphne in “Sugar” (2014)

2016 – Amy Turner, Most Accomplished Actress in a Musical for Judy Haynes in “White Christmas” (2015)

2017 – David Noble, Most Accomplished Actor in a Musical for Leo Bloom in “The Producers” (2016)

Paul Whitworth, Most Original Character Portrayal – Actor in a Drama for Henry Hornett in “Sailor Beware!” (2017)

2018 – Paul Allison, Most Accomplished Actor in a Musical for Laurence Jameson in “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” (2017)

Paula-Jayne Power, Most Original Comedy Performance – Actress in a Musical for Jolene Oaks in “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” (2017)

Ben Mackenzie, Most Accomplished Supporting Actor in a Musical for Freddy Benson in “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”(2017)

Peter Marshall was inducted in to the Act Hall of Fame

Out of the Spotlight Awards:

2015 -Peter Duncuft and Jean Whitworth, Excellence in Character Presentation – Make-up for “Sugar” (2014)
Andrew Marshall, Most Original Artwork for “Sugar” (2014)

2016 – Judith Hilton, Secretary of the Year 2017 – Andrew Marshall & Team, Excellence in

Stage Craft, Stage Management/Crew/Props

in a Musical for “The Producers” (2016) 2018 – Andrew Marshall, Excellence in Customer

Relations – poster design for “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” (2017)
Sheila Marshall, Excellence in Customer Relations – Box Office for “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” (2017)