Cromer and Sheringham Operatic and Dramatic Society

The Society began life in 1914 as The Cromer Amateur Operatic Society.

In the programme for the performance of Margery Deane by Cromer Amateur Operatic Society in May 1914, it said "A Society has been formed to encourage local talent in the production of light opera and drama". This was the first production after it had been instigated the year before by local enthusiasts.

That first performance was an entirely original musical comedy written by the three instigators of the Society - Alfred Heath (organist at Cromer Parish Church), Graham Bennett, an ex-professional opera singer, and A. West Walker. a dental surgeon. The first Cromer Amateur Operatic Society consisted of men and women of the Cromer Choral Society, which Heath conducted.

That first production of Margery Deane, was performed at the Town Hall Theatre in Cromer on Thursday and Saturday, May 14th and 16th 1914 and at North Walsham on Friday May 15th, and was "a notable success and all concerned were enthusiastically congratulated". The lead in that first performance was taken by Allan Dale, "late of the Globe Theatre and Geo. Edwardes' Company". The title role was played by Miss Gladys Riches. 

In the programme of that production, the list of vice-presidents, which contained many celebrities of the time, was topped by His Royal Highness Prince Chudadjuj of Siam!

The First World War intervened after that first production, but in 1923 the Society reformed under the slightly altered title of Cromer Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society and the following year staged Pantomime Rehearsal (1924) and The Monkey's Paw (1924) (both written locally) and its first venture into comic opera, H.M.S. Pinafore (1924).

In 1932, performers from both Cromer and Sheringham joined forces and became The Cromer and Sheringham Players. The Society flourished and comic operas, light operettas and dramatic plays were staged annually right up to the outbreak of the Second World War.

The Society was reconstituted in 1949 under its new name The Cromer and Sheringham Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society, and as a result of the generosity of three pre-war members acting as guarantors to the tune of £50.00 each, H.M.S. Pinafore was performed in Cromer Town Hall the following Easter 1950. (Unlike the pre-war years, when performances took place at both Sheringham and Cromer, Sheringham now had no suitable theatre and all performances were staged at Cromer).

After two successful years at the Town Hall, it was decided to gamble on a move to the 720 seat Pier Pavilion. This move was welcomed by Society members and the general public alike, but, after only one year, the Pier was so badly damaged in the 1953 floods that the Society was forced to return to the Town Hall, re-establishing itself at the Pier Pavilion in 1956 with its production of Ruddigore. After refurbishment in 1978, the seating capacity was reduced to 443.

Since then, a major production has been performed each year at the Pier Pavilion. In recent years, we have increased our number of productions, presenting plays in the Spring and Autumn at the Sheringham Little Theatre in addition to our main musical production on the pier. December 2002 saw our one and only pantomime, Cinderella, at the Auden Theatre in Holt, and Autumn 2004 saw us back there with Sue Townsend's comedy, Bazaar & Rummage. Since that time the Little Theatre has undergone extensive refurbishment with the help of Lottery funding and we continue to perform two productions a year at this wonderfully intimate venue.

In 2004, the seating capacity of the Pier Pavilion Theatre in Cromer was increased to 514 with the addition of an upper circle, and we were very pleased and proud to be the first users of the newly refurbished theatre.

2014 was our centenary year and it certainly proved to be a year to remember. With our highly acclaimed production of  The Elephant Man in February, our record breaking Oliver! in May, and most recently The Flint Street Nativity in October.

We also raised over £3200 for charity, taken part in both Cromer and Sheringham Carnivals, as well as winning the most voted for boat in the Crab and Lobster Festival Bootiful Boat Trail. We also marked our proud history by unveiling plaques celebrating our Centenary and our long association at the Sheringham Little Theatre and Cromer Pier Pavilion Theatre.

Click here for a selection of photos of our Centenary Celebrations

If you have any old photos, newspaper cuttings, or just memories of past productions, do get in touch by contacting us on 01603 262632 (Editor and Archivist) or e-mailing

OLIVER! 2014