TREADING the boards has become a family affair for Maria Ames.

The Appleton resident is taking one of the lead roles for the first time in Centenary Theatre Company’s adaptation of the romantic comedy, The Wedding Singer, at The Brindley from November 13 to 17.

But Maria has actually been involved with Centenary since she was four when her mum Teresa was in a performance of The King and I and roped her in.

The former St Gregory’s RC High School student said: “We were at the Parr Hall then which is very different to The Brindley in terms of its backstage areas.

“The Brindley is more set up for a theatre production and the Parr Hall is a bit smaller behind the scenes so it was quite overwhelming.

“I also didn’t really know what I was supposed to be doing. I was the smallest child who comes on late and bows the wrong way.

“I just remember someone giving me that push and that was when I had to run on and do that. It would always get a laugh but I didn’t know why because I didn’t get the joke.”

Nevertheless Maria got bitten by the stage bug and her overriding memories of St Greg’s was being in school productions.

She added: “One of the teachers, Mrs McGann, was known for putting on big productions so when I was in high school I was lucky enough to play Nancy in Oliver.

“I carried on doing performances throughout school and then as soon as I was old enough to join Centenary I did.”

Maria has now performed in around 20 Centenary plays and The Wedding Singer – the musical based on the 1998 Adam Sandler film – will see her portray Julia.

She said: “I’m very excited. I’ve been a member of Centenary since I was 16 and it is my first lead role.

“It has been a passion of mine my whole life. My mum is still a member of Centenary and my husband Tommy is as well.

“He doesn’t like to sing or have any lines so he much prefers ensemble parts and he’s the resident ‘lifter’ as he’s tall and strong so he picks up the girls when they need lifting.”

A cast of 35 have been rehearsing for The Wedding Singer for around six months.

Maria added: “We’ve had a busy few months because we’ve just finished Little Women which I was also in.

“For a while I was working on both Little Women and The Wedding Singer rehearsing four nights out of the week. I have a very understanding husband.”

Maria and Tommy also juggle treading the boards with being parents to eight-month-old Archie.

They have managed to keep up their Centenary commitments thanks to Maria’s mum stepping in as a babysitter.

Maria said: “We’ve got an eight-month-old baby so we don’t have a lot of time to do anything

“But this is once or twice a week when we get to spend time together so it’s quite nice that we get to do that. A lot of people with babies don’t manage to find that time so we are very lucky.

“I write a blog about parenting life and I think it’s important to do something for yourself. Otherwise you get lost in sea of nappies and sleepless nights.”

Maria, a primary school teacher, is also urging other budding actors to give Warrington’s thriving amateur dramatics community a go.

The 27-year-old added: “I’ve always enjoyed performing but just getting to hang out with your mates and doing what you all love is great.

“Everyone has that in common and that’s why we’re all there so you know you’re going to get on with the people there straight away.

“The bug of performing on stage is the best thing in the world.

“Not everyone can do it professionally because it is such a tough job – you have to be dedicated and relentless – but if it’s something you love you don’t have to give it up.

“You can go and join amateur dramatic societies like Centenary and still get that alongside your day job. We all network and get along with each other so you’ve got Encore, CODYS and ones further afield in Cheshire and we do try to support each other.

“You get quality performances at the Brindley and people spend a fortune going to London to get the same thing.”

The Wedding Singer is at The Brindley from November 13 to 17. For tickets visit the