Reintroducing Rep Theatre
Repertory Theatre returns to Leatherhead Theatre with 'Yes, Prime Minister', 'The Secret Garden' and 'Communicating Doors'.
Some of the biggest names in Hollywood started their careers in repertory theatre – Dame Judi Dench, Sir Ian McKellen and Imelda Staunton, to name just a few.
Rep theatre was a brilliant way for actors to hone their craft while working as part of a resident theatre company over a number of plays, and while it was great for the actors it was also the lifeblood of many a regional theatre, offering up quality theatre seasons year after year.
But it wasn’t to last – and in the end the costs got the better of the old style rep system so that by the 1980s it was all but dead.
Not anymore! Rep theatre is making a resurgence in the UK – not least in Surrey, where this month the Hordern Ciani theatre company will bring a trio of productions to Leatherhead Theatre as part of their seasonal rep season.
Leatherhead Theatre is a 500-seater, Grade II listed building which opened as a purpose-built rep theatre in 1969 – so it seems fitting that it’s returning to its natural realm. Back then – as The Thorndike Theatre (named after Dame Sybill Thorndike) – Leatherhead was one of the most famous repertory theatres in the country.
And again, it’s leading the way alongside theatres like The Theatre Royal in Windsor, The Liverpool Everyman and theatres in Chesterfield and Swanage as rep theatre has its renaissance.
The Leatherhead Rep season will run from Tues 17 April until Sat 5 May featuring Yes, Prime Minster by Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn, The Secret Garden, a new musical adaptation by Dave Simpson based on the novelty Frances Hodgson Burnett, and Communicating Doors by Alan Ayckbourn.
The company of nine actors will be resident at Leatherhead Theatre for a month, rehearsing one play during the day and performing another one at night.
The hope is that working alongside the theatre, Hordern Ciani will bring the theatre back to its former glory days. This is a great feel-good story about putting live theatre back into the heart of our entertainment industry – and we love that sort of thing at Muddy so we’re getting right behind the season and hope it will be the first of many.
And we’re not alone, Michael Caine has shown his support and Timothy West and Prunella Scales, have already said they’ll be attending every show – as will we, here at Muddy.
Yes, Prime Minister
Written by Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn – the pair who wrote the original classic BBC series – Yes, Prime Minister promises hilarious satire and farcical performances from the corridors of power. It’s set at a time when the UK is in crisis: debt is spiralling, unemployment is on the rise and the fragile coalition cabinet, led by PM Jim Hacker, is at breaking point. There may be deal to be had with oil-rich Kumranistan that will bring a solution, but at what cost?
The Secret Garden
This beautiful portrayal of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s classic children’s novel has been adapted to by Dave Simpson – and it’s a wonderful opportunity for all the family to enjoy musical theatre and a beautiful tale. It’s the story of Mary Lennox – pale, spoilt, quite contrary, and said to be the most disagreeable looking child ever – who is sent to Misselthwaite maor to live with her uncle. One day she hears about the secret garden.
Communicating Doors is a classic Alan Ayckbourn farce, full of fast paced wit and exciting time travel. When a sex worker is called to the hotel room of a wealthy dying man, it turns out to be for a reason entirely different to that which was expected.
‘Yes, Prime Minister’ is on from Tues 17 April and running until Sat 21 April; ‘The Secret Garden’ runs from Tues 24 April until Sat 28 April, and ‘Communicating Doors’ is from Tues 1 May until Sat 5 May. On each Saturday there will be a matinee as well as an evening show. Tickets for each show are £18, or you can book all three for £50.
The Leatherhead Theatre, 7 Church Street, Leatherhead, KT22 8DN. Tel: 01372 365141. leatherheadrep.com