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Stories and announcements

23Feb. 2017.

What it is to be Human



We all know the story of Frankenstein, don’t we? At least, we think we do, even though many of us have never actually read it. We’ve probably seen plenty of film adaptations and we can all conjure up the image of Boris Karloff lumbering around in an ill-fitting suit with bolts through his neck. Which is not a million miles from where writer Tristan Bernays and director Eleanor Rhode were coming from when they threw all that out of the window and each burrowed into Mary Shelley’s often rambling, sub-plot-ridden novel to unearth what really excited them about it.


They soon found that they were of the same mind, underlining the same passages - unsurprisingly, as they have collaborated closely and to Offie-Award-winning effect before, with Teddy at Southwark playhouse. Their strong connection and shared artistic vision have sparked an interpretation of Frankenstein like no other.

Stripped back to the bare bones in every way, this production allows audiences’ imaginations to go to work and builds atmosphere, layer upon layer.  We see a cast of only two, George Fletcher playing both Frankenstein and Creature, and Rowena Lennon in the role of Chorus, observing, highlighting and reflecting the characters’ thoughts and actions through sound and music. The world presented on-stage is barely dressed yet richly furnished by sound designer David Gregory, blending natural and electronic, music and ambient noise, to create an absorbing soundscape, made all the more magical by Lawrence T Doyle’s almost hypnotic lighting.



This is Creature’s world where, for Eleanor and Tristan, the beating and, ultimately, broken heart of the story lies. We see him as an innocent child, yet in a full-grown, monstrous body that he doesn’t understand how to use. He is struggling to develop and survive but without the love, protection and nurturing that a child needs. Eleanor was particularly fascinated by his schooling, courtesy of the blind man, in the works of Milton, Plutarch and Werther and the way that part of the story ‘really forces you to stop and think, of all the things that you’ve learnt over a course of a lifetime and how you take those things for granted’.

Movement Director, Tom Jackson Greaves, took George back to the very basics to examine the physicality of a child’s incremental control over muscles and cognition and development of awareness, movement, dexterity and language. The result is a unique interpretation and we’ll leave it for you to wonder how they handle the scene where both Creature and Frankenstein meet and to be captivated by what you see when they do.


George Fletcher in rehearsal

Mary Shelley was only 19 when she wrote the book. The story was concocted merely to amuse and impress Percy Shelley, Lord Byron and other guests during a stay near Lake Geneva when what she described as the ‘ungenial’ summer of 1816 confined them indoors to entertain each other with scary tales. She did not originally intend it to be a great novel but it grew into a story that is destined to resonate through time. As Tristan Bernays puts it, Frankenstein is about ‘the dangers of science, parental responsibility, Good and Evil, the question of what it actually is to be human. These are massive universal themes in a story that will always be relevant and will always speak to people'.

If only Mary Shelly could see this extraordinary re-imagining of her work  - what would she make of it?

Frankenstein runs 7th to 18th March and you can book tickets here.

Photography by Philip Tull


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31Jan. 2017.

Plays Without Décor


Calling all budding directors! 


If you are a young or emerging director in need of space and support to workshop some of your brilliant theatrical ideas, our Plays Without Décor programme may be just what you're looking for. As part of our Learning and Participation Programme, led by David Graham, Wilton’s is offering eight emerging directors the chance to use our new, purpose-built Aldgate and Allhallows Learning and Participation Studio for one week between June 2017 – September 2017.

This light, airy space can accommodate up to 40 people, including audience and company, and you will be able to use it entirely free for a week. During that week, you may choose to produce one reading, workshop or semi-staged performance and we will manage the Box Office if you choose to perform for a paying audience. You will also be entitled to up to two hours of mentoring from Wilton's staff in the field of producing, marketing, fundraising or working for and with young people.

We are delighted to be able to offer this exciting opportunity to new directors thanks to support from the Noel Coward Foundation www.noelcoward.org. The closing date for applications is Monday 27th March 2017.

To Apply simply download the info sheet and application form and send to info@wiltons.org.uk with 'Plays Without Decor' as the subject title.
Info sheet
Application form


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4Jan. 2017.

The incredible true story of Tarrare The Freak - Part Two



Following on from Part One, which told the story of the man himself, we take a look at the fascinating research and development process behind Wattle & Daub's The Depraved Appetite of Tarrare the Freak.



Wattle & Daub writer and puppeteer, Tobi Poster, claims he found Tarrare’s story down the back of the internet as he wandered, lost in Wikipedia. Understandably, his first thought was 'How come no-one has ever turned this into a puppet opera?'

Haunted by the idea that Tarrare died believing he’d been killed by the golden fork that Baron Percy failed to find during the autoposy, Tobi’s thoughts turned to writing a libretto. Armed with a notebook containing translated phrases from Percy’s original autopsy notes, and together with his acclaimed pianist-composer brother, Tom, he wrote the opera’s opening song. I think we can safely say this was probably the first time autopsy findings have been used for such a purpose.

That was in 2012 and, by the middle of that year, with funding from Arts Council England and Bristol Theatre, Tom, Tobi and W&D Artistic Director, Laura Purcell Gates, had developed the story with help from writer Hattie Naylor. Both the score and prototype puppets were taking shape as they geared up to to a 15-minute work in progress showing at Bristol Ferment, which won considerable praise from Exeunt Magazine:Somehow this company, with a devising period of three weeks, have created magic through the careful concoction of puppetry and opera’. 



 Since then, this musical interpretation of Tarrare's bizarre and tragic life, has been slowly and sensitively, ahem, fleshed out to become the full scale 'monstrous chamber opera for puppets' that will be staged here at Wilton's. Along the way, they were joined by new members of the creative team, including Director Sita Calvert Ennals and puppeteer performer and maker Aya Nakamura.

Wattle & Daub fervently believe that puppets and objects have their own meanings and stories embedded within them, to be discovered and drawn out. This was at the heart of their devising sessions in which they allowed the puppets themselves to lead the creative process – and were often surprised by where that took them; for instance the realisation that, despite his entire life being governed by his insatiable appetite, poor Tarrare took no pleasure at all in eating. Other explorations included analysing movement in musical theatre performances, which revealed the importance of physical levels of tension, particularly in the sternum, during singing. This was one lesson which, with all due respect and despite their love for that motley puppet troupe, helped them to avoid what they describe as 'Muppet-style singing'. You can watch the team experimenting with some early ideas here.

Historical accounts have described Tarrare as both kind and decent as well as monstrous and freakish. Striking a balance between the two was one of the key issues Tobi and Laura wrestled with during the early stages of the story development with Hattie. As Tobi explains, 'So many of the details of his life are so grotesque - swallowing live cats, smuggling military documents in his stomach, eating amputated limbs, that it can be easy to simply revel in the monstrosity of it all'. They were, however, always clear on one crucial thing: 'We were telling the story of an actual human being and we felt a responsibility to do justice to that humanity. The big challenge is how to retain the essential humanity and genuine tragedy at the heart of the story. Yet it's a story about a freak show, so that tension runs through the whole show. For us, the most interesting route was to portray his humanity without shying away from the unpalatable elements - to make him relatable by sanitising his behaviour would have felt like the most significant betrayal of all'.



 As well as exploring the furthest reaches of humanity, the research and development process involved a crash course in the histories of medicine, pathology and disability. A Wellcome Trust Small Arts Award opened the door to inspirational and illuminating collaborations with a team of senior academics and experts in pathology, disability and medical phenomenology and humanities. There were also visits to fascinating (if occasionally gruesome) museums, including a trip to the Old Operating Theatre with Dr Alan Bates, who described to Laura and Tobi the sheer physical strength and force necessary to carry out an autopsy.

The complete work was premiered as part of the Bristol Old Vic Ferment Programme in September 2015 and, as an accompaniment to the show, W&D created a public engagement event titled Performing the Freak: A Dialogue between Science and the Arts about Monstrosity, in which they were joined onstage by some of their collaborators and other speakers to discuss the issues around medicine and monstrosity that have informed the show.

The Depraved Appetite of Tarrare the Freak
 runs 30th January to 18th February and you can book tickets here. Incidentally, this is probably your only chance to see an opera featuring a song entitled Gullet, so you’d be a fool to yourself if you missed it.

You can read Wattle & Daub's own R&D blog in full here.


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19Dec. 2016.

The incredible true story of Tarrare The Freak - Part One



“Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn't.” So, it is claimed, said Mark Twain. He need have looked no further than the story of an 18th century Frenchman known as Tarrare for the perfect illustration of his adage. The details of this man's short but extraordinary life scarcely seem possible. As we're inclined to say today, you just couldn't make it up.




From 30th January to 18th February, one of the country's most talented puppetry companies, Wattle & Daub, will present this story in their highly distinctive way, as a 'monstrous chamber opera', hauntingly scored by acclaimed pianist and composer, Tom Poster. To describe Wattle & Daub's The Depraved Appetite of Tarrare the Freak as unusual is an understatement so we thought we would introduce it to you via a two-part blog. Here in Part One, you can find out the story behind the name and, in Part Two, discover more about Wattle & Daub's research and development process as they created this fascinating work, which took them to dark and strange places and led them to consult experts in fields not often associated with puppet theatre.

The man whose only known name is Tarrare was born near Lyon around 1772 and displayed an abnormally voracious appetite from birth. By his teens, he needed to consume at least his own body weight in meat every day and had been cast out by parents who were unable to feed him. Forced to survive as best he could, he took to begging and stealing with bands of thieves before joining travelling charlatans and sideshows and performing swallowing feats on the streets of Paris by eating stones, corks, whole baskets full of apples and even live animals.



When war broke out in 1792, Tarrare joined the French Revolutionary Army but collapsed with exhaustion when military rations failed to satisfy his extreme hunger. Even being granted quadruple rations was not enough to stop him scavenging for scraps in bins and gutters. He even fed on poultices stolen from the apothecary. Baffled senior military surgeons detained him to investigate his eating habits and fed him meals intended for 15 or more labourers as well as live cats, snakes, lizards and puppies before deciding that his digestive system should be put to military use smuggling documents swallowed in wooden boxes and retrieved after passing through his gut. His very first assignment which, unknown to him, contained only a dummy message as a 'test' mission, led to his capture and torture by the Prussians, culminating in a mock execution followed by yet more brutal beatings before being dumped by French lines.

Understandably desperate to avoid any more active service, Tarrare returned to the military hospital and begged the chief surgeon, Baron Percy, to do anything in his power to cure him. Everything failed; laudanum, wine vinegar, tobacco pills and numerous controlled diets were unable to stop him from escaping to scavenge for offal outside butchers' shops and fight for carrion on rubbish heaps. he was even caught trying to eat corpses in the hospital mortuary. Despite calls from many quarters for him to be sent to a lunatic asylum, Percy insisted on continuing his experiments but, when a toddler disappeared from the hospital, suspicion fell on Tarrare and he was driven out.



Four years later, Percy was summoned by a surgeon of the Versailles Hospital to find Tarrare dying from tuberculosis. He died within the month, aged around 26. An autopsy revealed an abnormally wide gullet, liver and gallbladder, an enormous, ulcer-ridden stomach and that his body  was filled with pus. Throughout his life, he had remained surprisingly slim. His mouth was abnormally wide and his skin hung in loose folds, stretching to accommodate a dozen eggs or apples in his mouth at any one time and to allow his abdomen to distend like a massive balloon after eating meals that sometimes consisted of 30 pounds of raw bull lungs and liver in one sitting. He was described as smelling so foul that no-one could bear to stand within 20 paces of him and he displayed what we now know to be the symptoms of hyperthyroidism - extreme appetite, rapid weight loss, profuse sweating, heat intolerance, and very fine hair. A recent study suggests that Tarrare's excessive appetite may have been caused by damage to the amygdala region of his brain.

Tarrare claimed to Baron Percy shortly before his death that he had swallowed a golden fork and that was the cause of his acute illness whilst at Versailles. The fork, however, was never found.

Discover in Part Two how Wattle & Daub have interpreted this extraordinary story as a 'monstrous chamber opera for puppets'. The Depraved Appetite of Tarrare the Freak runs 30th January to 18th February and you can book tickets here.


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18Nov. 2016.

Wilton's New Season is Now on Sale!

January - March 2017. 


From Lord of Thrones, the 10th anniversary of Improvathon bringing 50 hours of non-stop improvised comedy, to an electrifying new production of The Watermill Theatre’s Frankenstein, we are thrilled to introduce you to 2017 at Wilton's.

Download the brochure here: Season-Brochure (PDF)







January


Kicking off the 2017 season with a bang is Dame Nature – The Magnificent Bearded Lady (10 – 14 January). An evening of hilarious stories from the faded star who has been looking after her facial furniture for as long as she can remember. A poignant, off-kilter show for people who don’t like to judge a woman by her beard. 
 
The cream of the improv crop will descend on Wilton’s as Extempore Theatre & Something for the Weekend present The 2017 London Jam (16 - 19 January). Featuring a stellar line-up of home-grown spontaneous talent from 2016 Olivier Award winners, The Showstoppers, The Sufferettes and more. An uproarious night perfect for comedy fans and improv newbies alike.

Lord of Thrones (20 – 22 January) – the 10th annual 50 hour Improvathon, will take over over Wilton’s for an entire weekend of pure improvised comedy from some of the world’s funniest performers.

Closer: The Devil’s Violin & Burns Night Ceilidh (24 & 25 January), a musical journey taking audiences from the American South to Italy to Scotland to Argentina, finishing with a raucous and rollicking Burns Night Ceilidh. 

Morgan & West: Parlour Tricks (26 & 27 January) is back for 2017 as The Time Travelling Magicians make a triumphant return to Wilton’s with their mind-boggling, jaw-dropping, brain-burstingly brilliant feats of magic. 




February


Wilton’s is thrilled to be welcoming the extraordinary The Depraved Appetite of Tarrare the Freak by Wattle & Daub (30 January – 18 February) a phenomenal opera based on the monstrous true story of Tarrare the Freak, an 18th century French revolutionary whose only dream is to be human in a world that sees him as a monster. 

Tom Poster, the musical genius behind The Depraved Appetite of Tarrae the Freak, is also an internationally celebrated pianist and has put together a series of three contrasting concerts to run alongside Tarrare, each drawing on themes from the opera. Chamber Concerts: Tom Poster and Friends (2, 9 &16 February) brings together a number of the country’s celebrated classical musicians for three nights only.

Morgan & West return with their Utterly Spiffing Spectacular Magic Show for Kids and Childish Grown Ups! (16 & 17 February) – their fabulous, fun-filled, mind-frying magic extravaganza for kids and adults alike! 

Presented by DeNada Dance Theatre and choreographed by Carlos Pons Guerra, Ham and Passion (21 & 22 February) is an exhilarating and filmic spectacle that promises to subvert the senses and take you on a journey from the bloody Spanish Civil War to 1950’s Seville.  

In an extraordinary evening combining music and storytelling, OneTrackMinds (23 & 24 February) makes a welcome return to Wilton’s. A dynamic group of writers, artists, musicians and thinkers present a piece of music that has made a difference to their life.

The Sailortown Sea Shanty Festival (25 & 26 February) sails into town for the weekend, celebrating traditional maritime work songs as well as contemporary songs of the sea. Curated by The Trad Academy Sea Shanty Choir, this community-led festival is jam-packed full of music, art and history, featuring some of the finest international performers of maritime music. 

In Art Sung – Alma Mahler (28 February), Alma Mahler's story is explored through her songs, the works of her famous husband, her teacher and lover Zemlinksy and those of the great Germanic composers, Wagner, Schumann and Beethoven. 



March


Poet in the City return with Langston Hughes: Dreams Deferred (1 March). An exhilarating evening of poetry, music and dance celebrating this iconic Harlem poet, this is an exploration of the remarkable voice of Langston Hughes, a man whose powerful, urgent poetry inspired and empowered a generation of new writers. 

The maestros of swing, Step Out With Swing Patrol (2 March) are back with their usual taster class at 7pm, followed by fun and friendly social dancing until 10:30pm. Open to everyone, from complete beginners to old timers, this is guaranteed to be a great evening full of old-fashioned fun and frolics. 

Dark, dynamic and downright brilliant, No Angel Uncensored (3 & 4 March) is an evening of decadence and devilish delights as Charlie Bicknell, Louise Innes and Richard Casemore entwine anarchy, wit and comic ingenuity with aerial acrobatics and a jockey… Prepare to be unprepared! 

One of the greatest gothic tales of all time comes to life in an electrifying new production of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (7 – 18 March). A transfer from the award winning, internationally renowned Watermill Theatre, Tristan Bernays’ vision tells the story of Frankenstein, a young scientist who brings a gruesome body to life and is horrified by what he has made. This take on a powerful and dark masterpiece explores the timeless relationship between parent and child, isolation, prejudice and revenge. 

Based on true stories from the 1984 miners’ strikes, Undermined (21 - 25 March) tells the epic story of the brave men and women who stood up and fought for what they believed in. Written and performed by Danny Mellor, this is a deeply powerful and human story, bringing together the personal and the political in a way that will have audiences laughing, crying and shaking with anger. 

Fresh from a critically acclaimed run in Edinburgh comes The Reduced Shakespeare Company’s William Shakespeare’s Long Lost First Play (Abridged) (28 March – 1 April). In a better-late-than-never nod to the Bard’s 400th anniversary, the bad boys of abridgement present this ‘new’ play by the man himself, as discovered in a Leicester car park! 

Join performance poet Ivy Davies in the cocktail bar as she sets off on her magical journey through time and space with Play Ground (29 - 31 March), weaving spoken word and song together in this one woman show.

And one more...
It’s fun for all the family as Silver Electra (4 & 5 April) flies into Wilton’s. An exhilarating and fun packed family show telling the story of Amelia Earhart, her mysterious disappearance and an incredible globe-trotting adventure taking audiences from the Australian Outback to America and back again. Presented by English Touring Opera.

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13Oct. 2016.

The Memory Project

Piecing Together Our History

Pastor James Hanson (known to many as ‘Pop’) was in charge of the Mahogany Bar Mission from 1921 to 1937. Three years ago, his grandson, Chris Hanson, sent us images of photographs from his grandfather's time at the Mission, along with other items from his family collection. It was the picture of Pastor Hanson with children in Graces Alley that prompted Sylvie Richards (nee Georgiades) to write to us, showing once again that Wilton’s history is a story told by many voices. Every memory provides a glimpse of the past and together they bring the past to life. 



Photograph of Pastor James Hanson with children in Graces Alley, reproduced by kind permission of Chris Hanson.


Sylvie wrote ‘My daughter has just emailed me your site. I lived at No.7 Graces Alley prior to the Second World War with my grandparents Alec and Norah Ottolangui and their extended family. I have many happy memories both of life in the Alley, the Mahogany Bar, St Paul’s School and the children who lived and played in Wellclose Square.’ The picture was particularly poignant for Sylvie as it brought back memories of her late cousins, Mary McDonald, the child  third from the left and Mary's sister Shirley, holding Mary's hand. Sylvie thinks that the child on the tricycle in the second picture may have been herself 'I certainly had a little bike and those horrible ankle-strap shoes which I always hated.'

‘My Grandparents and their extended family lived at No. 7 Graces Alley and most of my childhood between the age of four and seven was spent there.  The Mahogany Bar as it was then known was a really important place in the life of myself and my cousins, who also lived at No. 7.  In fact three families lived there, all related, one on each floor.  It was an amazing and lovely childhood, although a bit crowded.  

The Mahogany Bar was a Mission in those days and most Sundays a slide projection show was held which was, of course, religion based and no doubt meant to influence the children attending. Prayers were also included. This would be followed by afternoon tea consisting of jam sandwiches, bread and butter, cakes and soft drinks.  We were also given little goody sweet bags.
 

My cousins and I were Jewish as were many of the other children but this didn’t stop us going there.  In spite of sometimes being terrified by the slides which included pictures of Jesus on the Cross and God depicted as an old man with white hair and angels and clouds around him, we were definitely not going to miss out on the tea and sweets!
 

The Mahogany Bar was also used as a social centre with Shows being produced for and by the local community and also what was probably the equivalent of Jumble sales.  To my young eyes, it was all hugely glamorous and a wonderful experience.
 

The area around Wellclose Square was mainly Jewish and Irish.  Doors were never closed or locked and everyone got on with their neighbours.  Children played together beautifully. The Square was our playground and the lamp-post at the bottom of the Alley (almost outside the Mahogany Bar) was our Maypole.  We used to tie long skipping ropes to the top of the post and swing round it. Wonderful!
 

St Paul’s School is still there and I attended for a short time before the war.  I last visited the area a few years ago, it has changed dramatically.  But it was great to see the Mahogany Bar re-emerge as the original Wilton’s Music Hall, thanks to all those dedicated people who restored this wonderful old building for a new generation.’

- Sylvie Richards
 





Do you have a memory or photo of Wilton’s from before 2004 or know someone who does? Maybe you were part of a film shoot or your family grew up in the area. We are collecting stories and would love to hear from you.

Email our Historian, Carole, on memories@wiltons.org.uk.


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15Sep. 2016.

Word of the Day from Floyd Collins


SITZPROBE

It may sound like an embarrassingly intrusive medical procedure but, no, it's what's happening today in our Floyd Collins rehearsal studio and it's something very special!




Sitzprobe is, in fact, the first coming together of full band and cast, in this case for a full run-through of Floyd Colllins The Musical. Glorious sounds have been wafting down the corridor past our offices today, seriously whetting our appetite to see this one-of-a-kind musical show - think down-home gig with a powerful story. Meanwhile, here are a few behind the scenes rehearsal pics for you to enjoy and a wonderful trailer to tell you more about Floyd's world.







Floyd Collins The Musical runs 22nd September to 15th October and bluegrass band, The Sand Cave Crickets, will be playing in the Cocktail Bar before every performance and during the interval. Click here to buy tickets.

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13Sep. 2016.

Peter Honri (1929-2016)

Wilton’s is saddened to hear of the passing of Peter Honri. Peter was one of Wilton’s chief campaigners who worked tirelessly to save Wilton’s Music Hall.

Born in 1929, Peter was a natural performer, and in 1951 formed jazz band the High Curley Stompers. An accomplished musician he inherited his grandfather’s talent on the concertina, above pictured with Mary Honri and Roy Hudd. He was the fourth generation of a line of renowned variety performers. His grandfather, Percy Honri, performed with his parents as the Royal Thompson Trio. When appearing in Paris a spelling error of Percy Henry birthed the name ‘Honri’ which stuck throughout his career. Peter’s father formally changed the family name, with Peter becoming the first to be born ‘Honri’.

Peter joined the fight for Wilton’s in 1972 and was part of the first Trust for the Restoration of Wilton’s. As a member of Equity and with his network of industry friends, Peter wrote tirelessly to the leading lights of variety entertainment to build support for the struggling Wilton’s. Along with Marius Goring he fought against the GLC’s granting Wilton’s lease to the Half Moon Theatre Company, believing this threatened to turn the populist music hall to an overtly political theatre. Their success raised plans for a National Centre for Variety Entertainment.



In 1978 Peter became the founder-director of the newly formed London Music Hall Protection Society; the group tasked with restoring Wilton’s and named after an 1860 organisation established by John Wilton himself to oppose a bill preventing music halls from any form of spoken performance.  As Artistic Director, Peter prepared ‘An Artistic Blueprint’ for Wilton’s. Based on a return to classic music hall format, proposed shows such as ‘Wilton’s Varieties’ aimed to discover and encourage new talent in variety performance.

The campaign launch took place at All Hallows by the Tower after the granting of the lease to Wilton’s for a peppercorn rent. In reference to the historic Knollys Rose Ceremony, a symbolic rent tradition dating back to 1381, Peter placed a rose on the altar cushion. That preserved flower is now held as a treasured item in the Wilton’s archive.




After a series of fundraising events work was finally commenced on the restoration of Wilton’s, with work replacing and restoring the hall roof begun in the early 1980s. Peter’s interest in the history of the hall, as well as his concern for the future of the building, lead to his research into the life of John Wilton and the acts who performed on the Wilton’s stage. He compiled his findings and imaginings of the era into his book ‘The Handsomest Room in Town’, written as a diary of Wilton’s founder.



Funding to continue building work could not be sustained and Wilton's remained derelict until the recent conservation and repair. Throughout the years Peter Honri remained an enthusiastic champion of Wilton’s. His belief that Wilton’s could be restored and become a viable and popular performance venue has borne out. Peter returned to see the completed Wilton’s and is seen here performing in the hall with Christopher Beeching as Champagne Charlie.



Passion and commitment like Peter’s, as much as stone and steel, has supported Wilton’s rescue and repair. Having been brought into a wreck of a building it was a proud moment that Peter was able to sign on the lease ‘return to original use’.
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7Sep. 2016.

Christmas is coming!

It may still be hot and steamy out there but the nights are drawing in, the leaves are beginning to fall and our thoughts are turning to... PANTO!


After an industrious week of costume fitting, we had a day of hectic fun yesterday with our official pantomime photo shoot.



We're thanking the Panto Fairy for blessing us with the same ace team who kitted out last year's cast - Tony Priestly and Paula Patterson. Having worked together, on and off, for around thirty years, our dynamic duo have dressed the great and the good on stages the length and breadth of the country. It's not unusual for Tony to be working on two or more pantos at any given time and, this year, we're in excellent company because he's doing Dick Whittington at the Birmingham Hippodrome and Cinderella at the Palladium, as well as our very own Mother Goose. Tony and Paula have done us proud again this year, we have the most wonderful cast and creative team we could have wished for and we're VERY EXCITED about it all, so here are a few of our lovely official photos plus some silly behind the scenes snaps for you to enjoy.


Amelia Rose Morgan as Jill and Ian Parkin as Squire Stingy


Roy Hudd as Mother Goose and Ian Jones as her son Willy


Gareth Davies as Vanity and Julia Sutton as Virtue


Priscilla the Goose as Herself


Paula weighs up a couple of things with Roy


You're 'avin' a larf ain't yer?


Virtue and Mother Goose swap beauty tips


Tony plumps up our Goose


Altogether now...

Mother Goose runs 2nd to 31st December. Hurry and buy your tickets here!

Official photography by Matt Crossick

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31Aug. 2016.

Floyd Collins: Cast Announced



We're getting ready to take a
journey to Floyd Collins' breathtaking Sand Cave in this all-new production of Adam Guettel and Tina Landau’s award-winning musical. Our exciting line up includes...



Floyd Collins
 will be played by Ashley Robinson
Ashley played Tyler in Maria Friedman’s Olivier Award-winning production of Merrily We Roll Along, both at the Menier Chocolate Factory and in the West End.  He created the role of Tybalt in The Last Goodbye (the Jeff Buckley/Romeo and Juliet musical), as well as the role of Jett Rink in the world premiere of Giant (Helen Hayes award nomination). His other theatre includes Wicked (original Chicago cast), Studs Terkel’s The Good War and the 40th Anniversary production of Hair.   Film and TV credits include Hate (with Marcia Gay Harden), Fallen Souls and The Accident.   

Nellie Collins 
will be played by Rebecca Trehearn
Rebecca was most recently seen as Julie La Verne in Daniel Evans’ critically acclaimed production of Show Boat in the West End.  Her other theatre credits include Aspects of Love at the Menier Chocolate Factory, Dogfight at the Southwark Playhouse and City of Angels at the Donmar Warehouse.  She has also appeared in We Will Rock YouDirty Dancing and Love Story (West End), the UK tour of Ghost and Alfie the Musical (Palace Theatre, Watford).   Rebecca’s television credits include Carla Hewson in Casualty (BBC) and Angharad in A470 (S4C).  Rebecca won The Wow Factor for S4C which led to the release of her self-titled solo CD.   

Lee Collins
 will be played by Jack Chissick 
Jack most recently appeared in the 2016 Olivier Award-winning production of Gypsy in the West End.  His previous theatre includes People at the National Theatre, She Loves Me at Chichester Theatre Festival, The Fairy Queen for Jonathan Kent in New York and Paris and Kiss Me Kate in the West End.   His television credits include Silent WitnessCanterbury Tales: The Pardoner's TaleFoyle’s WarJudge John Deed and Midsomer Murders.   Film credits include Les Misérables for Working Title/Tom Hooper, Ex Memoria and Somerstown for Shane Meadows.   

Miss Jane
 will be played by Sarah Ingram   
Sarah’s West End credits include Oklahoma!, South Pacific, Martin GuerreFlashdance, Imagine ThisMurderous Instincts and Napoleon.  Her other recent credits include Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd  at Twickenham Theatre, the European premiere Road Show at the Menier Chocolate Factory, the UK premiere of See What I Wanna See at Jermyn Street Theatre, Taboo at Brixton Clubhouse and Annie  at the West Yorkshire Playhouse.   

The rest of the cast will be announced soon.  

Read the full press release here (pdf).
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