26 Feb 2023

Arts and Culture Award

WAOS are proud to announce that we have been awarded the Mayor's Arts and Culture award. The nomination reflected the centenary of WAOS and the creation and production of The Flames of Injustice, the true story of James Cooke and the Witham fires of 1828, written in celebration of that Centenary.

WAOS Award

26 Jul 2021

Made in Dagenham

We cast Made in Dagenham back in May and until July 19th were rehearsing 'online' using various tools including specialist software that allows multiple people to sing together without the normal time-lag with virtual meetings. We're now rehearsing in person at on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at Spring Lodge and Witham Public Hall and the show is coming together. As usual we have a strong cast and the big numbers are already sounding fabulous. We still have a lot of rehearsing ahead of us and we would welcome volunteers to help Backstage, Front of House, Props etc. Tickets are now on sale and we look forward to presenting this fabulous show in October - show week is 25-30th October.

27 Nov 2020

Cancellation of Annie Get Your Gun

It is with a mixture of sadness and disappointment that the WAOS Committee has decided to cancel all future plans to perform Annie Get Your Gun. The UK Government's Covid-19 Winter Plan, published November 23, makes it clear that the tiering system will continue well into 2021 making it impossible to return to normal rehearsals by early January, our agreed deadline. We did explore the possibility of pursuing small rehearsals and Zoom calls but Claire Carr (Director) and Jessie Tabor (MD) both agreed that these would be no substitute for the full calls needed to rehearse the spectacular company numbers.

The committee extends its heartfelt thanks to Claire and Jessie, who honoured their commitment to stick with Annie Get Your Gun after the first lockdown, and to the cast and crew, the vast majority of whom were available to carry on with the production. Thanks to each and every one of you; without your loyalty we would not have had any hope of getting even this far. On this occasion the show will not go on but we will start again, hopefully with Made in Dagenham in May, 2021.

It is a sobering thought that the last occasion, to my knowledge, on which WAOS had to abandon shows for any length of time was 1940-1946, during WWII. The aptly named Goodnight Vienna was performed in 1939 and Miss Hook of Holland performed in 1947. Our second absence from the Witham stage should not last that long; watch this space for details of rehearsal and audition dates for Made in Dagenham.

Turning to practical matters; the cast and crew of Annie Get Your Gun will have libs and scores to be returned in exchange for the return of deposits. Three committee members have volunteered to accept libs/scores and co-ordinate their return. Please erase all pencil markings, put the books in a plastic bag with your name on and drop-off to:
1/ Anita Goold, Pumpfield, 1, Blunts Hall Rd, CM8 1EX
2/ Paul Goddard, 2, Yew Tree Close, Hatfield Peverel, CM3 2SG
3/ Stewart Adkins, Durward House, Back Lane, Wickham Bishops, CM8 3LU.

All three people are working largely from home so there should be someone at each address. If not, leave the bag on the doorstep.

It may be only small consolation but I encourage you all to consider taking part in our virtual pantomime, Aladdin, on Dec 22. Contact me for details. If you can't be there then the WAOS Committee wish you all a safe and happy Christmas - Oh yes we do!

29 May 2020

Virtual AGM Monday 15 May

As you may recall, the extraordinary events of this year forced us to cancel our AGM, which had been scheduled for mid March. As it seems unlikely that there might be sufficient relaxation of restrictions in the near future to allow us safely to hold our AGM in the traditional fashion, your Committee has decided to hold it online. So the Annual General Meeting of Witham Amateur Operatic Society will be held at 7:30 pm on Monday 15 June 2020, as a virtual meeting, facilitated by the zoom platform, which can be used on a variety of devices.

Members and Friends of the Society wishing to join the virtual meeting should contact the Chairman, Stewart Adkins (stadkins58@gmail.com) for the zoom link.

1. Apologies for absence
2. Minutes of the last AGM, held on 1st May 2019 (attached)
3. Matters arising from the minutes
4. Treasurer's report and presentation of audited accounts (attached)
5. Chairman's report
6. WOW report
7. Appointment of President and Election of Officers and Executive Committee
8. Any Other Business

Appointment of President and Election of Officers and Executive Committee.

Keith Radley has indicated his willingness to serve as President of the Society for a further year.

The Constitution states that the WAOS Committee should comprise nine members, including a representative for the WOW sub-committee, and there are currently nine Committee members: Stewart Adkins (Chairman), Liz Chapman, Trevor Drury (Business Manager), Paul Goddard (Production Manager), Anita Goold (Treasurer), Emma Loring, Annette Maguire, Ben Sawyer and Matthew Waldie (Secretary). All these current members of the Committee are willing to stand for re-election. Anyone wishing to be considered for a position as a full committee member under Item 7 is welcome to put their name forward and will need to have a proposer and a seconder.

As usual, apologies for absence may either be emailed or telephoned through to me.

Matthew Waldie
Hon Secretary

20 May 2020


At a virtual WAOS committee meeting on Monday night we agreed that we would postpone Annie Get Your Gun until April 2021. We felt that the likelihood of being allowed to open WPH for a show this October is slim indeed. Social distancing will likely remain a key weapon in the defence of the individual from infection for some time and maintaining distance between members of the audience is conducive to neither an artistic nor financial success. Of course there are no guarantees we will be able to proceed in April 2021 but the chances must surely be much higher. If you have not already responded on Facebook please can you let me know if you will be available in April 2021 and the rehearsals that precede it. I am sorry to be the bearer of such news but I imagine it is not a complete surprise.

Steward Adkins

17 March 2020


On Monday evening the WAOS Committee met, mainly to discuss our response to the rapidly-changing threat from coronavirus. Our primary aim is to keep our members, friends and volunteers safe and we quickly concluded that "social distancing" was totally incompatible with running rehearsals and putting on a show. Just before our meeting the UK government announced that "everyone should avoid gatherings and crowded places, such as pubs, clubs and theatres" and at the end of our meeting Witham Public Hall Trust announced that they were "having to suspend shows for a while" in the first instance until the end of April.

You will not be surprised therefore that WAOS has suspended rehearsals for the foreseeable future and are exploring the possibility of postponing Annie Get Your Gun until our regular October show date (26-31 October). This is not as simple as you might think, requiring renegotiation of the rights for not just one but the next three shows, ensuring availability of contracted directors and musical directors, as well as being certain that our wonderful cast can still commit to Annie Get Your Gun later in the year and an intensive rehearsal schedule from September until show week. All of this is subject to government advice on when we can return to a normal way of life.

In the meantime we have cancelled both the Barn Dance, which was scheduled for 28th March, and the AGM, which was scheduled for Monday March 23. In a separate email I will send you the information you would have received at the AGM - last year's minutes including WAOS and WOW Chairmans' reports, this year's Chairmans' reports, the Treasurer's report and the accounts for 2019 (which have been inspected by our auditor). We will endeavour to reschedule an AGM when the government advice allows, or failing that find an online solution. We have to have achieved all of this before our submission of accounts and Trustee Report to the Charity Commission before the end of October.

Whatever happens to the timing of Annie Get Your Gun and any negative financial consequences that may result from postponement, rest assured that WAOS is financially secure and well able to survive it. Our goal is to get back on track as soon we are allowed and we hope we can count on your loyalty and support through these difficult times. Please keep track of the WAOS website and Facebook group page - we may have some surprises for you during our enforced temporary retirement.

8 March 2020


WAOS are proud to receive the NODA award for Best Musical and Best Production for "Sister Act” at the Regional Awards ceremony held on Sunday 8th March.
Many congratulations to Director Robyn Gowers, AD Gemma Gray, MD Emma Nash, the fabulous Cast and all the supporting Crew, FOH, Costumes, Props, Sound, Lighting, Chaperones, Make-up and everyone involved!

28/29 Sept. 2019

Beginning the journey towards creating our own musical at WAOS

The weekend of Sept 28/29 saw 16 members of WAOS/WOW engaged in a thoroughly enjoyable process to create a list of scenes and characters for our very own musical. We were guided through a process of devising a drama by professional drama practitioner, Sarah Osbourne, who runs her own production company, Yew Tree Productions in Yorkshire. Starting off with various drama games to shake off our inhibitions and then opening our minds to imaginative thinking using the “yes and” rather than “no but” technique we made rapid progress.

Our basic theme was the Fires of Witham in 1828. This series of fires in Witham culminated in the hanging of 16 year old James Cooke and the transportation of 19 year old Edmund Potto. You might think that the ingredients for a musical were lacking here but under expert guidance we not only came up with three variations of 14-16 scenes but also identified sufficient male
and female characters to satisfy our society’s needs. We even created a working title “The Flames of Injustice” that captures the drama of the play as well as the direct reference to both the fires and the social injustices that perhaps led to the arson attacks as well as the brutal sentencing of a 16 year old boy.

Our next step is to commission a script based on our list of scenes and characters and to find a local musician willing to work with the playwright to compose the songs and their lyrics.
We are aiming for an October 2022 production to celebrate our centenary.

Wish us luck.

20 Sept.2019

WAOScars celebration -

On Friday September 20th WAOS and WOW hosted the first ever WAOScars event - an evening where we celebrated the achievements and successes of our members over the last 12 months and acknowledged the huge debt of gratitude we owe to all of our members, friends,volunteers and supporters without whom we could not survive. Almost 100 people attended this event which included a cabaret from members of WAOS and WOW, a fantastic tapas meal by The Little Catalan Catering company and the presentation of many awards.
Trevor Drury set up an amazing screen on the stage which not only showed the photographs and names of nominees and winners but also allowed all participants to witness the results of a live voting system using a smartphone. 75 members logged onto the voting website giving the lie to the notion that older members don't "do technology".

*2018-19 NETG Showcase Festival Awards Night**
Friday 13th September


NETG Showcase Awards 2018-19

WAOS is proud to announce the following nominations for NETG awards.

Congratulations to all those nominated.

  • KING COSTUME AWARD: Cinderella
  • BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR Darryl Warnaar as Lionel in Cinderella
  • BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Emma Loring as The Fairy Godmother in Cinderella
  • BEST ACTRESS: Constance Lawton as The Stepmother in Cinderella
  • BEST ACTRESS: Aimee Hart as Cinderella in Cinderella
    WAOS/WOW: Claire Carr for her choreography, and the dancing of the cast, in Cinderella and Thoroughly Modern Millie

Dates for your Diary

Sept 20, 2019 – 19.30 Witham Public Hall. WAOS hosts the WAOSCARS!

This lively evening will include entertainment (hopefully from members of WOW, past and present) and food while the cash bar will be open for drinks. The climax of the evening will be the presentation of a series of awards both fun and serious, to members and friends of WAOS/WOW, whether they have been involved on-stage or off. This is the premiere of this type of event and if successful could become a regular addition to the WAOS/WOW calendar. Put the date in your diary and wait for formal invitations nearer the event.

Sept 28 and 29, 2019 – The Barn, Spring Lodge– making a musical for our centenary!

WAOS hopes to write and perform a musical in time for its centenary celebrations in 2022. This is a bold and innovative challenge that will require significant help and support from our members, as well as from external professionals. We have already developed a preliminary theme (based on the Witham Fires in the early 19th century) and have engaged a professional, expert in developing new drama, to work with us during a weekend of workshops to flesh out plots, sub-plots, characters and characterisations so that we can work towards a draft script. The music will come afterwards. Given the space and logistical constraints in managing a creative process we are limited to 25 participants who can devote both Saturday and Sunday to this project. It is a significant time commitment but I promise you will have a ball and learn huge amounts about yourself and the creative process. This is perhaps a unique opportunity that we offer to our own members initially before widening the net. Please let me know if you would like to be involved. Stewart Adkins

WAOS is proud to announce that NODA has nominated WAOS for two awards in 2018.

Best Technical Production - Fiddler on the Roof
Best Musical - Cinderella

There is one other nominee for the Best Technical production and two others for Best Musical. The final announcement of the winners of these and other categories will be at the NODA East awards event on May 12 at Wicksteed Park, Kettering. If any member would like to represent WAOS and pick up a trophy, should we be successful, please contact Stewart Adkins at stadkins@btconnect.com.

WAOS has selected shows through to October 2020

The WAOS Committee can confirm that it has selected and obtained licences for shows through to October 2020. We are delighted to share these with you now and welcome any questions you may have. We have selected Artistic Directors and Musical Directors for the first two shows but are still in the selection phase for the remaining shows. If you have any suggestions please send them to me at stadkins@btconnect.com

Iolanthe. April 2019.

Director and Musical Director – Thomas Duchan.

Sister Act. October 2019

Director Robyn Gowers, Musical Director – Emma Firth

• Annie Get Your Gun(new version) April 2020

• Made in Dagenham October 2020

Results from Survey of 35 NODA-affiliated Musical Theatre groups about Membership Fees and Audition Procedures.

Following the discussion at the WAOS AGM about the audition process and the proposal that the committee consider a variable membership fee structure for “new” members vs established members, we have conducted a survey of 35 NODA-affiliated musical theatre groups. This is to establish what most societies do now and to discover if there are ideas we could apply to WAOS. Please read through the survey (click here) and feel free to ask me any questions you may have. The committee is still considering ways to differentiate between established members and newcomers without deterring them or making them feel unwelcome. We hope to introduce a small change to the financial arrangements surrounding the audition process for our next show, Iolanthe.

Stewart Adkins. Chairman

NETG Awards 2018

WAOS is proud to announce the following nominations for NETG awards

  • ADJUDICATOR' AWARD Choreography and Dancing in Fiddler on the Roof
  • BEST YOUNG ACTOR (21 and under) ​Ryan Wuyts as Mendel/Cossack etc in Fiddler on the Roof
  • BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR ​Ed Groombridge as Motel in Fiddler on the Roof
  • BEST ACTOR ​John Davies as Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof
  • BEST ACTRESS :​Matilda Bourne, Diana Easton and Sarah Miles as Judy, Violet & Doralee in 9 to 5 the Musical (joint nomination)
  • THE JACQUE & PETER COLLYER-SMITH TROPHY FOR BEST MUSICAL ​Fiddler on the Roof directed by David King
  • TIMMENS AWARD FOR MUSIC ​musical accompaniment of the band in 9 to 5 the Musical
  • THE TERRY SADLER MEMORIAL TROPHY FOR FRONT OF HOUSE (nominations based on hospitality, refreshments, posters/programmes, displays etc.) ​9 to 5 the Musical

Our youth group WOW has also received the following nominations

  • TECHNICAL ACHIEVEMENT ​lighting/sound in Cats
  • ADJUDICATORS’ AWARD ​the choreography and make-up in Cats
  • BEST YOUNG ACTOR (21 and Under) ​Tom Nicoll as Old Deuteronomy in Cats
  • TIMMENS AWARD FOR MUSIC ​Susannah Edom for musical direction and the accompaniment of the band in Cats

wins NODA Best Technical award in District 11

The award was made at the NODA East AGM on Sunday May 13th. 2018
Rhianna Howard collected the award on WAOS behalf.

Cinderella mentioned on BBC Essex Radio April 10, 2018

In a live interview with Tony Fisher on BBC Essex Radio today (approx 15.15) Kath Adkins was asked about the next show at WAOS. She mentioned Cinderella by Rodgers and Hammerstein (not a pantomime!) and invited everyone interested in learning more about this show to attend the Open Evening on May 2 at Spring Lodge from 19.30. This show will be directed by Claire Carr, who made her directing debut at WAOS with Return to the Forbidden Planet. James Tovey will be returning as MD. However, WAOS shall be investing in Realtime Music Solutions software that allows every cast member to get a digital download of their vocal part. They can then learn their parts and harmonies at their leisure. This means that note-bashing will be supplementary rather than the sole means of learning the music. This is an experiment on our part but we hope that all members of the company will take advance of this (at no cost to them) and enjoy the boost in confidence this should provide.

If you wish to learn more about Cinderella please come along to the Open Evening with no obligation. Wine and nibbles may tempt you further to enjoy a social evening. We do not restrict our invitation to cast members. We would love to see anyone interested in helping backstage, Front of House or in any other capacity.

In the meantime this is the text from the R&H website about Cinderella (Enchanted Version).

The timeless enchantment of a magical fairy tale is reborn with the Rodgers & Hammerstein hallmarks of originality, charm and elegance. Originally presented on television in 1957 starring Julie Andrews, Rodgers & Hammerstein's CINDERELLA was the most widely viewed program in the history of the medium. Its recreation in 1965 starring Lesley Ann Warren was no less successful in transporting a new generation to the miraculous kingdom of dreams-come-true, and so was a second remake in 1997, which starred Brandy as Cinderella and Whitney Houston as her Fairy Godmother. As adapted for the stage, with great warmth and more than a touch of hilarity, the hearts of children and adults alike still soar when the slipper fits. This Enchanted Edition is based on the 1997 teleplay.


WAOS is proud to announce the following nominations for NETG awards

At the Award Ceremony held on 8th September WAOS won three awards.

  • TECHNICAL ACHIEVEMENT - Lighting/projections in Spamalot
  • BEST YOUNG ACTOR (21 and Under) - Harry Tunningley as Not Dead Fred/Concorde in Spamalot, Cookie in Return to the Forbidden Planet & Lucas Lloyd in Loserville (W.O.W.)
  • ADJUDICATORS’ AWARD - Choreography and dancing in Spamalot
  • BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR - Trevor Marks as Patsy in Spamalot
  • BEST ACTOR - David Everest-Ring as Captain Tempest in Return to the Forbidden Planet
  • BEST ACTRESS - Constance Lawton as The Lady of the Lake in Spamalot
  • COLLYER-SMITH MARINE TROPHY FOR BEST MUSICAL - Spamalot directed by Nikki Mundell-Poole
  • TIMMENS AWARD FOR MUSIC - Musical direction (Geoff Osborne) and orchestral playing in Spamalot
    Collective “out of this world” singing of the cast in Return to the Forbidden Planet

Our youth group WOW has also received the following nominations

  • TECHNICAL ACHIEVEMENT - Lighting in Loserville
  • BEST YOUNG ACTOR (21 and Under) - Chris Tierney as Michael Dork in Loserville
  • BEST YOUNG ACTRESS (21 and Under) - Isabella Chapman as Holly Manson in Loserville
  • COLLYER-SMITH MARINE TROPHY FOR BEST MUSICAL - Loserville directed by Cathy Court
  • TIMMENS AWARD FOR MUSIC - The on-stage band in Loserville

WAOS Christmas Cabaret raises over £1000 for Essex Dementia Care and Cancer Research UK.

On Saturday night, December 3, around twenty members of WAOS and WOW came together to sing a mixture of well-known classic Christmas songs, interspersed with some traditional carols, in a charity Christmas cabaret at Witham Town Football Club. More than 100 people, including the Mayor of Witham, packed the hall to enjoy this event, with more than £1000 being raised for Essex Dementia Care and Cancer Research UK. Emma Loring directed the cabaret and liaised with the charities so that there were plenty of balloons, bunting and other festive decorations available to bring the holiday season to Witham Football Club. The lighting and sound was especially good with a star cloth and LED lights transforming the small stage. The accompaniment was, for the most part, provided by backing tracks but with the professional sound equipment and mixing provided by Anthony Drury and his father, Trevor, the overall effect was excellent. WAOS was fortunate to be able to use the spare rehearsal time not needed during the pre-audition rehearsals for Return to the Forbidden Planet. This kept costs very low, while the venue and sound/light facilities were all donated. Well done to all who took part but especially to Emma for taking this project from idea to successful reality.

NETG Awards 2016

WAOS is proud to announce the following nominations for NETG awards

  • Adjudicators Award - Choreography in The Producers
  • Best Young Actress - Jess Edom-Carey, Mabel in The Pirates of Penzance
  • Best Supporting Actor - Stewart Adkins, Sergeant of Police in The Pirates of Penzance
  • Best Actor - Thomas Pleasant, Frederic in The Pirates of Penzance
  • Best Actor - David Slater, Max Bialystock in The Producers
  • Best Actor - Michael Watling, Leo Bloom in The Producers
  • Best Actress - Corrina Wilson, Ulla in The Producers
  • Collyer-Smith Trophy for Best Musical - The Producers directed by Amy Trigg

Our youth group WOW has also received the following nominations

  • King Costume Award - Half a Sixpence
  • Adjudicators Award - The singing and dancing of the shop boys and girls in Half a Sixpence
  • Best Young Actor - Jake Collis as Kipps in Half a Sixpence
  • Best Young Actress - Amy Seymour, Mrs Walsingham in Half a Sixpence
  • Collyer-Smith Trophy for Best Musical - Half a Sixpence directed by Faith Rogers

The awards ceremony is on September 9th, Princes Theatre, Clacton at 7:30pm and costs £11.00 to attend. If you would like to attend this event please contact Stewart Adkins.

NODA Awards 2016

Stewart Adkins attended the NODA Gala Awards Event at St Ives on Sunday April 3rd. WAOS was awarded the Best Musical award in the District (includes Witham, Braintree, Colchester and Clacton) for The Addams Family. This was a wonderful accolade and is the first time WAOS has won a NODA award since A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. At the same event WOW was awarded the Best Youth Production award for Our House. WOW is used to receiving such honours but it is nevertheless gratifying that the production team - Amy Trigg, Louise Lachance and Ben Firth, working with WOW for the first time, should have their creativity and hard work recognised first time out.

The NETG Awards 2015

A massive congratulations for everyone involved in The Sound of Music and The Addams Family. The North Essex Theatre Guild adjudicated these, and many other shows, over the past 12 months and both WAOS and WOW came away with awards recognising their achievements.
The Best Supporting Actress award was presented to Julie Codling for her excellent portrayal of Elsa Schraeder in The Sound of Music and The Addams Family won the King Costume award. A massive well done and thank you to Sara Lyndon and Debbie Sterling for hand making such a wonderful array of costumes. Also for massively contrasting roles in both The Sound of Music, as Maria, and The Addams Family, as Alice; Corrina Wilson was awarded Best Actress. See her tackle the part of Ulla in The Producers in October.
Finally, massive congratulations go to Ron Howe. He has done some much for WAOS and WOW for so many years and was recognised for his outstanding work with the Jan King award. Well done and thank you so much Ron!
Not forgetting, of course, WOW. They were awarded the highest accolade of the evening when Our House won the Best Musical award, seeing off competition from across Essex; including WAOS's own productions of The Sound of Music and The Addams Family. Well done to Amy Trigg, Louise Lachance, Emma Nash and all of the team both on stage and off. We look forward to Amy and Louise putting their magic touch to The Producers.

Edward Maltby

Those who were able to be present at Edward's funeral were presented with his visiting card. A long time member of the Society and President 1984 - 1986 his dry sense of humour will be greatly missed.

--WAOS Archives--

Over the years, Anne Sheppard has been collecting hard copy archive material since the inauguration of WAOS in 1921, then called the Witham Musical and Amateur Operatic Society. WAOS has now embarked on a project of scanning and uploading this material so that it can be accessed and viewed by members and friends of the Society. This archive will grow as the data is uploaded. However, there is already plenty of material to browse through. Take a look by clicking on the link www.waosarchive.blogspot.co.uk. You are encouraged to leave comments about individual items in the archive if you have additional information, personal memories perhaps or relatives you recall in the Society. To leave a comment click on an individual item and scroll down to the comment box at the bottom. Type your comment and save.