About Us

Debut Youth Theatre began its life at a committee meeting of Southampton Operatic Society in 1986 during which the lack of young people wanting to joining the group was discussed. A sub-committee was formed to solve the problem and before long a Junior Section was formed.
Arrangements were made to provide master classes at three local secondary schools and a small cast was recruited from SOS to perform HMS Pinafore at these venues as an example of what was on offer. Thirty four enthusiastic youngsters were soon recruited and in March 1987, The Mikado began its two night run at The Avenue Hall.
Since then the group has performed two shows a year, initially at the Avenue Hall in the heart of the City and, with the closure of that venue, at Colbury Memorial Hall, Itchen College and more recently Hanger Farm Arts Centre in Totton and The Plaza, Romsey. In 2006 the group changed its name from the lengthy Southampton Operatic Society – Junior Section to Debut Youth Theatre but remains firmly part of S.O.S.
Throughout its twenty two year history the Chairman has been Colin Sly who, along with the first director Pam de Grouchy and current director Wendy South (née Dalton), was on the original sub-committee. Was their vision a success? At the last count 20 juniors have gone on to appear with the main society as adults and, with many of them taking principal roles, they have made a big impact on the local theatre scene. Furthermore, David Tatnall, who joined the Juniors as an eight year old, has not only directed a couple of junior shows but he has even directed three shows for the Senior Society! Many more have appeared in the Society’s shows as children and without DYT it could never have performed Oliver! at the Mayflower in 2001.
As well as solving a problem for Southampton Operatic Society, DYT has been the source of several unexpected off-shoots:

two members, Rae Baker and Nyle Wolfe, have gone onto perform on the professional stage
past members Declan and Careen Wolfe now run a stage school in Dublin with over 500 pupils
David Tatnall together with Simon Pontin (a former member of the Seniors and now a professional performer) formed a junior section for Eastleigh Operatic and Musical Society
Christopher Daniels began a Light Operatic Society at Warwickshire University.