The King’s Head Theatre in Islington, north London, is hosting a star-studded series of champagne galas to raise money for an extensive refurbishment involving a gallery of 100 seats and to fund a new in-house production schedule.

The galas, in association with Dragonfly Films, aim to raise £100,000 for the venue, and will features acclaimed actors whose careers were fostered in their early days by the King’s Head Theatre - including Celia Imrie, Maureen Lipman, Dave Willets, Anita Dobson, Linda Marlowe, Susannah York and Frances Ruffelle – as well as other celebrities.

The 115-seater theatre situated in Islington’s historic 19th-century pub was founded in 1970 by Dan Crawford, who died in July last year (See News, 14 Jul 2005). It was the first dinner theatre in the UK and the original London pub theatre, which kickstarted the now vibrant London Fringe scene.

Now under the artistic directorship of Stephanie Sinclaire, Crawford’s widow, and Ann Pinnington, the theatre is committed to continuing to provide creative and entertaining theatre for the local and London theatregoing community. Its numerous awards include Oliviers, the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Award and this year’s Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers’ Choice Award for Best New Comedy for Who’s the Daddy? by Spectator drama critics Toby Young and Lloyd Evans, who will be giving a talk about their experience with the play as part of the King’s Head fundraising schedule.

The gala events will be held on Sunday and Monday evenings throughout the year, including special Dan Crawford tribute performances. These evenings will be musical tributes, variety, interviews and high profile play readings. Many will include a champagne buffet. There will also be an auction for the theatre, hosted by Jeffrey Archer, in June.

Stephanie Sinclaire said: "My husband founded the theatre 35 years ago. He lost a grant in the late Nineties, and it ceased being a producing theatre, which was an absolute tragedy. So we're doing these galas to raise some money and get it back to the way it should be. Our first production will be Peter Pan at Christmas, as a tribute to Dan, and we have some excellent musicals and plays lined up to be produced in-house in the new year."

Currently at the King’s Head, Sophie Tucker's One Night Stand, starring Sue Kelvin as “the original Red Hot Mama” runs to 30 April 2006 (See News, 22 Feb 2006). Following that, EastEndersShaun Williamson will play a failed movie producer turned drug dealer alongside Wendy Morgan as his moll in Arthur Kopit’s Road to Nirvana. The satirical slice of 1980s Hollywood life will be directed by Colin McFarlane and runs from 2 May to 28 May 2006.

- by Caroline Ansdell