Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Diverse choice for the new season

THE autumn and winter programme at Henley’s Kenton Theatre offers a blend of professional and amateur shows across all genres,

THE autumn and winter programme at Henley’s Kenton Theatre offers a blend of professional and amateur shows across all genres, writes Alison Stodolnic.

The Kenton is proud of its long tradition of supporting local amateur dramatic groups. But it now offers a more diverse range of shows than it did in the past, which is attracting new audiences of all ages and from further afield.

“More and more of the professional touring theatre companies want to perform in our lovely cosy theatre,” said managing director Wendy Bowsher, “and we are attracting some really big names.” Comedians Steve Punt and Hugh Dennis are warming up in Henley at the start of their national tour, and ticket sales are already strong for other popular shows such as The Vagina Monologues and The Nutcracker ballet.

There is plenty of music to send the spirits soaring and get the feet tapping this season. The National Youth Jazz Orchestra (NYJO) returns after three previous sellout performances — some of the country’s finest young jazz musicians will play special arrangements of well-known songs and themes from the movies. Other musical acts include The Rat Pack with Kenny Lynch, award-winning Elvis impersonator Ben Portsmouth and rock ‘n’ roll legend Joe Brown, who is performing for three nights after his daughter Sam Brown’s group The International Ukulele Club of Sonning Common.

The current theatrical trend of one-woman shows has not passed the Kenton by. Tickets to Pam Ayres sold out long before her show in September, Rohan McCullough presents My Darling Clemmie next weekend, and Anita Harris will be telling her life story in November through music and multimedia effects.

Children’s theatre also features heavily in the programme. Emil And The Detectives is based on a classic Thirties adventure story, there is a ‘meet the dancers’ session after The Princess And The Frog, and the Kenton’s own professional pantomime, Aladdin, is being billed as the highlight of the season.

Local amateur dramatic groups are putting on some ambitious shows too. The Henley Players present Great Expectations later this month, followed by HAODS’ much-anticipated musical version of Pride And Prejudice, and Woodley Light Operatic Society’s comic opera The Gondoliers in November.

January sees two more children’s shows — The Henley Children’s Theatre Group amateur production of Dick Whittington and Behind You Productions’ Snow White And The Fairytale Creature. Psychic Tony Stockwell is rounding off the season with an evening of spiritual mediumship.

For more details, visit www.kentontheatre.co.uk or call (01491) 575698.

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