The show must go on (and on)

Shirley Russell at New Central Methodist Church, Blackpool-appearingi in her 50th show in 50 years.
Shirley Russell at New Central Methodist Church, Blackpool-appearingi in her 50th show in 50 years.
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The show must go on – even if the choreographer has just had a hip replacement.

Active am dram member, choreographer and performer Shirley Russell is preparing for her 45th annual show with Central Methodist Church next week – at 76-years-old.

The Poulton grandmother has dedicated her time to choreographing the church summer show every year of her involvement with them, despite in 2005 and in 2010 being in recovery from hip replacements.

Shirley is one of the church group’s most active members, having also taken turns directing the annual summer show, Showtime.

As the group prepares to stage its 50th show, opening on Tuesday, she shows no signs of slowing down.

She said: “I love choreographing the shows and being part of it. My fondest memories really are of rehearsals.

“Even when I’d had my hips done I was there on my crutches doing the choreography, we still got the show done.

“Dancing has given me something to do - I can still tap dance a little bit.”

The group began as a young wives group in 1963, with dwindling numbers meaning men were called in for reinforcements in the 1980s.

Mrs Russell added: “It was a laugh when the men joined in, we did have a lot of fun. And then the children joined too, they’re my favourite to work with.”

Now the shows incorporate songs from the shows, a medley of music to commemorate the armed forces, a circus scene and finally a rousing finale of songs of praise.

Showtime opens at Central Methodist Church Hall on Adelaide Street, Blackpool, on June 11, continuing every Tuesday and Thursday night, at 7.30pm, throughout June.

For tickets call (01253) 624836.

Stepping out on to the Tower Ballroom floor from a young age, Shirley Russell has since dedicated much of her spare time to dancing.

As a youngster, Shirley, of Mossbourne Avenue, Poulton, trained with and performed in the Tower Ballet.

In later life she took up work as a secretary for the Royal Mail but continued to choreograph the church shows.

She has also spent the last 12 years performing with Poulton am dram group, Chaddeans.

Mrs Russell said: “I just love dancing.”

She now credits her active lifestyle to making speedy and successful recoveries from two hip replacement operations, the first in 2005 and a second later in 2010.

She added: “There comes a time you have to slow down a little bit I do enjoy it.

“It has kept me young.”

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