Maggie’s dancing her way to family fun at Darwin Shopping Centre

A woman who has worked with comic icons Tracey Ullman and Su Pollard and on big budget films Heaven’s Gate and Fame is the first Community Co-ordinator for Shrewsbury Shopping Centres.

Maggie Love, whose career has included West End musicals, films, top acting schools and a stint in America, plans to put arts and families firmly into the limelight at the shopping centre.

“We want to make this a place where people don’t just shop, but where families can come and enjoy themselves, with a variety of events,” said Maggie.

“We will be using space in the Darwin Shopping Centre for exhibitions, talks and workshops – it’s a real opportunity for artists to interact with the public about their work.

“I also want to hear from artists and other organisations who are interested in displaying their work. There are so many artists in their area, and yet at the moment there aren’t many opportunities for them to display their work. Also, the town presently lacks a centre where families can come together for workshops.”

Maggie, who was behind last summer’s Shropshire Diamond Jubilee Pageant, is planning more one-off events, such as the recent dance flash mob, plus performances within the centre.

“I am delighted with the role and thrilled to have this opportunity,” said Maggie. “I am very passionate about Shrewsbury and community involvement and see this as a real step forward for the town.”

Her new Community Co-ordinator role sprang out of the hugely successful Lantern Processions, which Maggie has organised for the last two years.

She said: “We used two empty shop units for the processions, with people turning up for workshops to make the lanterns. We realised that we could do more with families, so they can work together, rather than just dropping children off to do something by themselves.”

That included the recent Easter Seed Days, with more than 150 youngsters heading home, carrying their own seedling to nurture.

Kevin Lockwood, Manager of the Darwin, Pride Hill and Riverside Shopping Centres, said: “Maggie is already doing a fantastic job and she is fantastically well qualified to bring a new dimension to the shopping centres – we’re very lucky to have her here.

“We really want to make a visit here about so much more than shopping. We want it to be fun and interesting and to engage with families and the whole community and make the centres and Shrewsbury itself an even more vibrant and attractive place to come to.”

It wasn’t Shrewsbury-born scientist Darwin, after whom one of the shopping centres is named, who led Maggie to take her first dance steps, but another famous son of the town, John Weaver, now regarded as the father of pantomime.

The dance master and choreographer – born in Shrewsbury in 1673 – was also responsible for bringing ballet to the UK from France.

Maggie, who is also director of Shrewsbury Youth Theatre based at The Hive, said: “I have a passion for dance history, which I realised when I was 11 and was told about John Weaver. He put on the first ballet in London, the Tavern Blinkers, in the old Drury Lane theatre, and went on to write books on dance.

“I wanted to know about dancing, and what made him go to France to study baroque dance and music.”

She left Shrewsbury aged 17 to train as a dancer and within a few years was choreographing her first West End musical: Grease, with Su Pollard – who went on to star in TV comedy Hi De Hi – and Tracey Ullman, since nominated for a Golden Globe for her smash-hit comedy roles on American TV.

Maggie went on to work and perform in films such as Heaven’s Gate and Fame – The Movie, plus coaching actors in period dance.

She taught at prestigious London acting schools including Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art, Central School of Speech and Drama and London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. In addition she worked with academics and historians at Cambridge University, reproducing dance and movement in Ancient Greek plays.

Maggie then moved to the US as Head of Movement and Dance at California’s world-renowned Berkeley Shakespeare Festival.  When her partner died, leaving her with a young baby, she re-trained as a pre-school teacher and set up her own centre, and was involved in dance and arts events.

When her father died she moved back to Shrewsbury with daughter Annabel, then aged five, to care for her mother, working as Shrewsbury’s Community Arts Officer until she was made redundant.

She also worked on the town’s 2009 celebrations of Darwin’s birth, plus made films with a German company, and went on to organise events with the Shropshire Olympian Festival. Since 2006 she’s led the children’s programme at the annual Shrewsbury Folk Festival.

Artists interested in working with Maggie or displaying their work at Darwin Shopping Centre should email her at

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