A drama group is returning to the stage since the first coronavirus lockdown when its rehearsal base was shut down.

Westhoughton’s Bethel Crowd return to the stage this week for their first show since lockdown.

With song and dance from the musical You Still Can't Stop The Beat, the cast have been working hard over a long time, both over Zoom and using Daisy Hill FC’s clubhouse, their rehearsal base since the closure of the Bethel Church in 2019 and the falling through of renovation plans.

The church was put up for sale and sold earlier this year and the future of the drama group was in turmoil until the clubhouse took them in.

A spokesman for the group said: “As a drama group, we’ve been key in bringing through youth and giving them the confidence-boosting experience of being involved in theatre, helped along by more seasoned actors, and a great bunch of dedicated producers and backstage helpers.

“Next year, the Bethel Crowd will celebrate its 50th year and being ‘homeless’ without a local venue in which to perform in has been difficult for us and casts something of a shadow over the future.

“Whilst the Bethel Crowd is grateful to St. James for the hire of the venue, ticket sales are slow compared to what we would expect at the Bethel.

“It is hoped that, if things go well and town centre plans can accommodate the wishes of the wider community, the Bethel Crowd can return to Westhoughton maybe in time to really celebrate their 50th year.”

The group is a key member of Westhoughton Community Network (WCN), which established in 2011 brings together and promotes voluntary groups and organisations.

WCN has been actively and positively involved in plans for the town centre regeneration since the process began and hopes that the refurbishment and remodelling of the library and Carnegie Hall can provide a suitable large enough space for groups to use.

READ: Westhoughton Greek restaurant back open for dinner

The troupe, which has a majority of young people, are taking their show on the road to Farnworth performing at St James’s CE High School for three consecutive nights from tonight, Thursday, September 23 to Saturday, September 24 at 7.15pm each night.

There is a matinee performance on the Saturday at 2pm. Tickets are priced at £6 and are available to buy here.