New Watford Season Precedes Planned OverhaulDate: 19 July 2001
The Watford Palace Theatre has announced details of a major new season, which could be its last for some time if planned redevelopments go ahead. Co-productions with the Theatre Royal Bath and Manchester Library Theatre will feature, offering works by Alan Ayckbourn, Jimmie Chinn, Liz Lochhead and Terence Rattigan. A Roy Hudd pantomime and the world premiere of Diane Samuels' latest drama are also scheduled.
Kicking off the autumn & winter 2001 programme is Ayckbourn's How the Other Half Loves, with the theatre promising a cast of familiar faces. A comedy about three married couples and their liaisons, it opens on 31 August.
This will be followed from 28 September by Chinn's A Different Way Home, starring Roy Barraclough. Winner of two Manchester Evening News Awards, the Theatre Royal Bath will tour this bittersweet family saga later this year. Chinn is also the author of the West End comedy Straight and Narrow. Although Barraclough is familiar as Coronation Street's Alec Gilroy on TV, his early theatre career took off via the Huddersfield Repertory Company where he had worked as stage manager.
Also forthcoming at the Palace is Lochhead's romantic comedy Perfect Days, previously seen in the West End. A joint venture with the Manchester Library Theatre, where it plays first, this tale of a celebrity hairdresser approaching 40 runs from 31 October in Watford. The winter season's pantomime is Roy Hudd's adaptation of Dick Whittington which sees the return of comic duo Graham Hoadley and Michael Vivian.
A co-production, with Theatre Royal Bath and Big Dog, of Rattigan's The Deep Blue Sea rounds off the main schedule in February 2002. This widely acclaimed British drama tells the story of a woman who risks everything for the love of a dashing young man who betrays her. There's also a chance to catch the first outing for Diane Samuels' Mata Hari. Samuels wrote the well-received stage play Kindertransport, and her new work is set in Paris during the First World War.
The Palace Theatre's appeal is continuing apace, with the aim to raise £2.2 million and then obtain an equivalent Lottery grant. Established in 1908 as a music hall, the theatre could potentially close from next year for up to 14 months whilst the necessary improvements (including modern air-conditioning) are installed. The venue's President is Sir John Mills CBE, with Vice Presidents including Sir Elton John and Helen Mirren.
- by Gareth Thompson