URMSTON Musical Theatre has been hit by a double whammy.

When their theatre at Urmston Leisure Centre closed for refurbishment of the centre three years ago, they used their initiative by putting on two small productions, Café Rene and Festive Showtime at their Pennybridge headquarters with a capacity of just 50.

Last autumn tUMT presented Winter Wonderland there.

But just as the leisure centre reopened several weeks ago it was closed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Now it is coronavirus which is again hitting their productions.

Anita Partridge, their chairman since 2003 has showbusiness in her blood.

She said: “I have been involved with amateur theatre from an early age.

“I joined UMT in 1971 and my husband, John in 1980.

"I first appeared in the chorus of Summer Song at the Curzon Cinema.

“I had been used to small audiences and musicals were a new experience.

"Previously I had sung in a church choir and that was it.

“The size of the venue was daunting but I enjoyed every minute of it.”

John’s first role was with Quaker Girls for UMT in 1981.

At the same time as performing with UMT, the couple appeared with South Trafford Operatic between 1989 and 1997.

Anita added that she has appeared in 20 UMT shows and 11 STO productions, occasionally taking the lead. John has also appeared in many shows.

For UMT Anita was Miss Adelaide in Guys and Dolls, Annie Oakley in Annie Get Your Gun, and Goldie in Fiddler on the Roof.

Her husband, who appeared opposite her in Guys and Dolls in the key role of Nathan Detroit, said: “I have played in that show three times - for Urmston, South Trafford Operatic and Worsley Operatic.

John played Chief Sitting Bull in Annie Get Your Gun when Anita was playing Annie.

For STO Anita was Nancy in Oliver, Miss Adelaide again in Guys and Dolls and Bloody Mary in South Pacific.

Anita has become indispensable in other ways for UMT.

She has helped with wardrobe, worked as a follow spotlight, done front-of-house and is the current ticket secretary.

John can only make claim to have been a ticket ripper.

He said: I enjoy acting the most. I am not a great singer. I always tell directors I can sing but can do nothing operatic.”

His last on stage performance was as King Egbert in Humpty Dumpty, which because of the leisure centre closure, was held last year at Wellacre School.

He added: “They left me out of the programme but at the age of 83, nothing upsets me any more.”