Theatre group’s sudden loss

The group during its productions of The Wizard of Oz
The group during its productions of The Wizard of Oz

A popular amateur dramatics group has had to cancel its upcoming productions after the sudden loss of its facilities in mysterious circumstances.

The New Garrett Theatre Group has been based at Atherton Community School since 2016, but was told it could no longer perform there last week, reportedly without being offered an explanation.

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As a result, the group had to cancel this year’s summer production whilst it sources a suitable venue.

Committee member Debbie Smith said: “The school is an excellent venue which was accessible to the whole community, due to its position, size and amenities within. The loss of civic venues such as Formby Hall, in Atherton and surrounding areas, has put a great strain on groups which just want to serve the community.

“We hope that a compromise with the school can be reached with the support of the local community.”

She added: “As a longstanding Atherton community group of 24 years, we rely on the support of local residents to watch and support our shows and we are fully committed to serving this community. We are currently looking for suitable local venues and hope to be back on the stage as soon as possible.

“In the meantime, we are performing a number of gigs within the Atherton area over the summer so please watch this space.

“This is sad news but we hope we can find a solution to continue to serve this community. Thank you all for your continued support. The show must go on!”

Debbie added: “We are very disappointed by this news as this venue is currently the only one of its size within the town of Atherton which we are very keen to stay within.”

The group has been based in Atherton since 1994, originally performing at Formby Hall which used to be council-owned, was then privately run still as a venue but then, despite local protests, was demolished to be replaced by a residential home. Since losing the hall, the group had performed at Atherton Community School and staged a total of five productions there since 2016.

The group said it had been left in the dark over the reasons behind the decision and continued to await correspondence from the school.

Attempts were made by the Observer to contact the school but no-one was available due to the current school holidays.