Seaford Musical Theatre (SMT), formerly known as Seaford and District Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society has been performing since 1927.
In 1927, Mr. F. G Stammers called a town meeting in Seaford with the view to founding an amateur operatic society. He proposed that the first production would be Gilbert and Sullivan’s H.M.S Pinafore and everyone present seemed to be in favour until it was asked how much it would cost to stage. When told it would be in the region of £120 the meeting rejected Mr. Stammers’ idea. Not to be defeated, he and a group of like-minded friends went ahead anyway and a very successful show was staged at the Queen’s Hall in Seaford generating a profit of £56.
And thus Seaford and District Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society was born. For the next 45 years it staged mainly Gilbert and Sullivan operettas with the occasional foray into more daring shows such as ‘No No Nanette’, ‘The Merry Widow’ and ‘Maid of the Mountains’. Although no formal productions were staged during the war years, the society carried on by providing entertainment for the large number of troops billeted in and around the town.
Around 1949 the word Dramatic was dropped from the society’s title as another new, non-singing, local drama group was formed which went on to become Seaford Little Theatre.
By the early 1970’s light operettas were starting to decline in popularity and the more commercial shows such as ‘Oklahoma’ and ‘Calamity Jane’ had become all the rage. As a result of this, they were gradually introduced into the society’s repertoire and continue to be staged to this day.
For a short period (unknown), the society used The Queens Hall (aka: The Drill Hall) in Broad Street North to rehearse/stage various performances. It is surmised that during the period, it became an inconvenience to the landlord whereupon the society negotiated the use of Seaford Head School to stage performances.
However, in 1983 the society seized an opportunity of acquiring the lease of a derelict barn and cottage in Steyne Road. The first show performed at the new venue was Gilbert and Sullivan’s ‘The Mikado’ in May of the same year. With the help of grants, endless fundraising, and very generous donations from its members and the public alike, the site was subsequently purchased in 1985 and an extension was built to house the stage, foyer, bar and dressing rooms. This was now to be known as The Barn Theatre.
A major contribution from Seaford Film Society enabled the Society to increase the size of the lighting/projection booth in order to house film projectors in addition to lighting and sound consoles. On 6th November 1999, a gala re-opening was held to unveil the theatre’s ‘new’ tiered seating and carpets which were gifted as the result of a refit at The Dome Theatre, Brighton.
In 2006 the society changed its name to Seaford Musical Theatre (SMT) to better reflect the wider variety of the productions it now staged.
As part of the on-going refurbishment of the Barn Theatre, all the raised seating was re-upholstered during the summer of 2018 and the old stackable chairs were donated to charity and replaced with far more comfortable new ones. At the same time a seat sponsorship programme was introduced and our loyal patrons can now choose a seat, which will carry a plaque bearing their name or an inscription of their choice which can be dedicated to their family or friends, mark their first theatre experience, or celebrate the life of a loved one.
Continuing with the theme to improve audience experience and accessibility facilities the theatre was successful in gaining a local grant from Seaford Town Council to assist funding the provision of a hearing aid loop in the auditorium.
After a highly successful run of Sister Act in 2019 we secured the rights to perform the hit musical Chicago in 2020. Auditions were held and a stellar company was cast but just as rehearsals were in full swing the theatre, along with the rest of the country, went into lockdown as part of the response to the worldwide pandemic; however the theatre never sleeps and when rules permitted work began in earnest to upgrade and refresh the facilities so we can continue to provide our loyal supporters with many more years of quality productions.