SUTTON’S theatre group is celebrating its 90th birthday this year.

The Green Hut Theatre Company will next month present its latest show in the same building that hosted its first-ever gathering in 1928.

Vicar of Dibley 2 – based on episodes of the hit TV sitcom – is a far cry from the inaugural production of long-forgotten musical Pocahontas.

The group, originally St Thomas’s Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society and more recently Sutton Amateurs, continues to present musical every year, now supplemented by an annual pantomime.

And also, reviving a tradition from the 1970s, the Green Hut has a junior group that encourages the next generation of principal performers and chorus members.

The group was set up by choir members of Sutton’s St Thomas’s Church with membership subscriptions of 2s.6d per year.

The first production Pocahontas was followed by Highwayman Love, yielding a profit of £52, but over the years costs grew until the group rarely broke even with its annual musical.

Over the decades there were other challenges: financial difficulties during the 1930s depression, the absence of members fighting for their homeland during the Second World War, and a shortage of chorus girls for the 1957 production.

Cost savings in the 1930s prompted a shift from Gilbert and Sullivan operettas to less-expensive modern works.

On September 4, 1939, three days after the outbreak of the Second World War, members voted to cease activities, but those left home ended up holding concerts, plays and dances to raise cash for members serving in the forces.

In 1978, Sutton Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society could still count five women among its members who had performed in the first show 50 years before.

In recent years the society decided to modernise its ‘brand’ – renaming itself after its distinctive green rehearsal hut off Main Street.

Following this December’s pantomime Jack and the Beanstalk, members will look forward to a successful 91st year with the musical Anything Goes, written only five years after the Sutton society began.