Going back many years, to the 1940s in fact, there were two Methodist Drama/Musical groups in South Wigston.

One group was the Blaby Road Methodist Drama Group, which usually performed three 3-Act plays each year; sometimes with a one-act play added. The other group was the Countesthorpe Road Methodist Concert Party, which performed Pantomimes and Musical Concerts. Both groups were extremely enthusiastic and performed their shows in their respective Church Schoolrooms.

Doris Vann Produced the shows performed by the Concert Party and Gordon Dalton mostly produced and directed the plays with the Drama Group, with other people helping out when Gordon became ill.

In the early 1970s the Countesthorpe Methodist Church closed down, and the members joined up with the Blaby Road Methodist Church. The two drama groups became the “South Wigston Methodist Church Players”. Doris Vann remained the producer for many years, with David Garratt designing and making the scenery for the shows. Eventually, Doris handed the production and directing over to David.

The Players performed a pantomime each February and a musical show in October, usually an “Old-Time Music Hall” or a Variety Show, always on the stage in the Church Schoolroom. Gradually, the group extended to other people outside the Church Members, including several who are also members of the Leicester Drama Society (Little Theatre). Shows began to be performed on bigger stages, initially at Countesthorpe College, then at Bushloe High School and, currently, at Guthlaxton College. The group also put together a touring “Music Hall” Show, which played at various Church Halls and Village Halls round the County. Overall this show was performed over 70 times. This was followed by a touring ‘Wartime’ Musical show in 1995/96 (prompted by the VE-Day and VJ-Day 50th Anniversaries), which was replaced a year later by a “Magical Musicals” Show. Due, in part, to the group performing mainly away from the Church, its operating name was changed to the “SWM Theatre Company”, known more colloquially as “The SWM”. 
The group’s archives, which are primarily those of the Blaby Road Group. They go back to the early 1950s. The earliest show for which we have the Programme and some clear Photographs is ‘Blythe Spirit’ from 1954.

We also have the Programme and Photographs for ‘Bonaventure’, performed in April 1957. Beryl (then Beryl Green) played Nurse Phillips, and can be seen sitting on the floor in the coloured photograph below.


Noel Coward's 'Blythe Spirit' - 1954.

We also have the Programme and Photographs for ‘Bonaventure’, performed in April 1957. Beryl (then Beryl Green) played Nurse Phillips, and can be seen sitting on the floor in the coloured photograph below.

'Bonaventure' from 1957

featuring Beryl Loweth.

David Garratt, who was for may years our producer/director, came from the Countesthorpe Road Group. His wife, Janice, and elder daughter, Sarah, are both involved with the group. Janice still organises the costumes and acts as secretary to the group. Peter Whyatt (Janice Garratt’s brother) and Gill Poyser are the only original performing members from the Countesthorpe Road Concert Party. Beryl Loweth is the only original performing member from the Blaby Road Methodist Drama Group.

At the time of adding this information to the website, June 2006, all those named in the last paragraph were involved in the “Old-Time Music Hall”, which played at Guthlaxton College from 31 May to 3 June 2006. David Garratt directed, with assistance from Sarah Garratt. Sarah also performed a speciality number. Janice Garratt was again involved looking after costumes. Beryl Loweth, Peter Whyatt and Gill Poyser were also featured members of the cast. Bringing things up to date, there is below a photograph of Beryl in the “Old-Time Music Hall” performing a Nellie Wallace comedy song from the hey-day of Music Hall before the First World War - “My Mother Said (Always Look Under the Bed)”.

2006 'Old-Time Music Hall' - Beryl Loweth as Nellie Wallace in '"My Mother Said...".

After our 2007 Pantomime ("Aladdin"), David Garratt decided that he wished to reduce his time input to the group from his many roles and has withdrawn as overall producer/director. He is however continuing to design and oversee the building of the scenery.