Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Musical star opens new theatre foyer

MARTI WEBB opened the new-look foyer at the Kenton Theatre in Henley before delighting audiences with the first show of the autumn season.

MARTI WEBB opened the new-look foyer at the Kenton Theatre in Henley before delighting audiences with the first show of the autumn season.

The musical actress performed her one-woman show Tell Me On A Sunday despite suffering with a cold and received a standing ovation at the end and demands for an encore.

Before Friday night?s show she cut a ribbon to officially open the foyer, which has been transformed in a two-month project and features a new box office and bar.

She then unveiled a plaque bearing her name on the New Street theatre?s new wall of fame ? the very first.

She also performed on Saturday night and both shows were sold out. Among the audience on Friday night were fellow actress Liz Robertson and Henley Mayor Lorraine Hillier.

Theatre producer Robert Mackintosh, the brother of Sir Cameron Mackintosh, helped stage the production.

Webb, 71, starred in the original production of the show, which was written for her by composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyricist Don Black, 35 years ago. It tells the story of a girl from Muswell Hill who travels to America in search of love.

Ed Simons, the Kenton?s chairman of trustees, said bringing the actress to the theatre was a coup and one of the highlights of his career in entertainment.

Mr Simons said: ?I joked at the after-party that to end up being named on the poster with Andrew Lloyd Webber, Don Black, Robert Mackintosh and Marti Webb was the time to quit.

?The only way he [Lord Lloyd Webber] would grant us the rights was if we had a live band in the way he and Don wrote it. We said we were thrilled to do that so we went for it.

?I thought it was sublime and Marti was mesmerising and an absolute delight.

She was performing for an hour without a pause for breath. You could have heard a pin drop when she had those silent moments. There were people literally crying because it?s so emotional.?

Mr Simons said he was thrilled with the new foyer.

?I?ve been living with and seeing it evolve over the last eight weeks and each day it came to life more and more so by Friday night when we were ready to throw the doors open it was a fantastic feeling.?

He said there was a very tight timetable to complete the refurbishment and paid tribute to the team behind the project, led by Wendy Bowsher, the theatre?s managing director.

?I feel we have achieved everything we set out to, which was to create a wonderful new appearance but to retain certain elements of the original foyer as our heritage,? he said.

The Mayor said: ?It was a perfect evening and the foyer looked beautiful. They have done such a good job.?

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