Originally formed in 1962 as Corby Operatic Society it was made up from a mixture of Stewarts and Lloyds Amateur Dramatic Society (SALADS) and a group of young actors and singers who wanted to branch out more into the world of musical theatre and comedy.
Starting with virtually nothing, Glyn Walters as their President and other members' enthusiasm, they brought together a talented group of performers, directors, musicians, choreographers, choral masters and stage designers to form one of the strongest theatrical societies in the county. They staged productions in the Corby Technical College and soon built up a large following that expected, and received, superb productions.
In 1966 the society moved into the Civic Centre Theatre and a strong bond of mutual support was forged between the management and our society. Ross Jones was the theatre manager. He loved live theatre, and relied heavily on the operatic society to assist and promote it in the town. He persuaded us to extend the range of shows by staging variety Music Halls and Pantomimes written by Bill Godwin, who was for many years our chairman, and many others. For the first time Corby audiences saw the comic genius of people like Rowley Lovell, John Bridgeford, Eric Foster and Keith Patrick, who set a standard of performance that has been hard to match and even harder to beat. In 1980 the society decided to change its name to CATS and has continued the tradition of staging shows with local amateurs from Corby and beyond ever since.
Since those early days, the society has staged over hundreds of shows, pantomimes and concerts - many being written by members of the society - has had over 2000 members, and has maintained the unique bond over support and co-operation with the theatre and its management.
In August 1989, the Civic Theatre was closed due to faults in the Festival Hall floor, but it never stopped us. On January 1st 1990 we all moved into the Festival Hall at six o'clock in the morning and, in the space of twelve hours, cleaned the hall from the New Year's Eve Dance and built a fully operational theatre in its place to stage our annual pantomime. We did this for five years, which was a tremendous achievement.
When the theatre was reopened in 1995 the council asked CATS to re-launch the theatre with a production of the Wizard of Oz. Well do I remember it - I was directing the show. They were still sweeping up the plaster and finishing the final touches of emulsion on the opening night, five minutes before the Mayor entered. The dress rehearsal was a nightmare - the lighting board blew up and went on fire, there were no scenery poles and ropes to hang scenery from. Again the resources of CATS were put to great use, old favours called in and within twelve hours we had a brand new lighting system and the whole stage was re-roped and re-rigged by our members.
In 2009 we were sad to say goodbye to the 'Civic Theatre - Willows Arts Centre' that had been home to CATS for many years. But this loss did not stop CATS from performing its annual pantomime, which was staged in Lodge Park Technology College. Now, we perform at 'The Core Theatre' and work with the fantastic staff to continue producing amazing shows for the Corby audiences.
CATS has gone from strength to strength over the years and now has many young up and coming members, as well as more mature and experienced members - securing a great future for us.