Saturday, 31 October 2020

Re-opened theatre says thank-you

Re-opened theatre says thank-you

SUPPORTERS of the Mill at Sonning have been thanked for helping it survive the coronavirus pandemic.

The theatre, which was closed in March, is to stage its first performance since then on October 30.

Since July, the dinner theatre has only been able to operate its restaurant with reduced seating.

But donations from supporters including George and Amal Clooney, who live in the village, and playwright Ray Cooney as well as fund-raising have proved to be a “lifeline”.     

Managing and artistic director Sally Hughes said: “It has been a very emotional time and I could burst into tears thinking about how generous and kind people have been.

“A waitress here gave us £20, which might not seem much, but would mean a lot to them and we are just so grateful.

“Hickies Music in Reading have also been very generous.

“The pandemic has meant that we went from being a theatre taking a nice income to going into freefall and having zero income overnight, which was a terrible shock.”

Mrs Hughes said customers had been very supportive with about 90 per cent of tickets sold prior to the pandemic being deferred to next year when the performances will be rearranged.

She said: “Our Mill Angels have been supporting us financially and the Clooneys, who come to the theatre, have also been wonderfully supportive, as have the Sonning Volunteer Fire Brigade Trust.

“Ray Cooney came to us with financial help right from the very beginning and he has phoned me every weekend since lockdown started asking when we were doing theatre again.

“He is an amazing man and a real theatre man who has entertained our customers for the 38 years we have been here. He has always been so helpful.

“There are theatres who have been named after people but we can’t really change ours so I thought it would be nice to name the auditorium after him and I’m planning a gala night to have the naming ceremony and I hope we are able to have a full house.”

The theatre has an online fundraising page which has received messages of support from actors and directors such as Brian Blessed, Simon Williams and Jeremy Irons.  

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