Ilkley Playhouse Spring/Summer Programme 2020

ILKLEY Playhouse has been producing great drama in our beautiful town since 1928. We are a community theatre tucked away on the banks of the River Wharfe but we are very much at the heart of Ilkley’s thriving community arts scene. Each season we offer audiences a wide range of quality plays, events, courses, music and family entertainment. Our Spring/Summer 2020 line up is no exception. You can get your hands on a copy of the programme at the Playhouse, in local libraries, Ilkley tourist information office and in businesses throughout the town.

Our Spring season opens in the Wildman Studio with John Godber’s comedy Teechers. Running from February 3, it tells the story of an idealistic new teacher in his perilous first days inside a local comprehensive school. Three school leavers, Salty, Hobby and Gail, decide to perform an end of term tribute about their lives in secondary school. The play is based on their own drama teacher Mr Nixon who ignites their passion for the stage with his idealism and beliefs. The play was written in 1984, a time of intense change in education which culminated in the 1988 Education Reform Act. The play retains its political and social relevance today and the social commentary which runs throughout the play, is presented with great wit and pace.

The first of our main plays in the Wharfeside Theatre from March 5 is the beautifully adapted Ladies in Lavender. Based on the critically acclaimed film starring Judi Dench and Maggie Smith, the play tells the tale of two sisters who live in a close-knit, fishing village in Cornwall in 1937. Their lives are transformed when they decide to house an unconscious stranger washed up on the beach. This is an evocative, heart-warming story of unfulfilled dreams and unrequited love.

April brings the production of Frost/Nixon, based on the true story of how David Frost approached Nixon’s office to be given the exclusive right to interview the disgraced President Nixon in the wake of his resignation after Watergate. Whether you know anything about the Watergate scandal or the history of the Frost/Nixon TV interview, this play is a must-see, exposing the vanity of politics, corruption and power.

In May, we have more historical drama, this time going back to 1669 when Charles II reopens the Playhouses for the first time, allowing women to take to the stage. Playhouse Creatures will be performed in the Wildman Studio where you will be transported to a restoration playhouse to celebrate a bold moment in the history of modern theatre.

Towards the end of the season in June, we have the brilliant musical Singin’ in the Rain. With fabulous costumes, well-known musical numbers and fizzing choreography, this is a feel-good production for the whole family that will leave you humming those famous tunes long after you’ve left the theatre.

Aside from our main plays, we have two fringe productions lined up this season: We’re Not Going Back and Flamingoland. Fringe productions often bring new writing to Ilkley Playhouse. Usually led by new directors, there is a special, fresh energy around fringe events, capturing the spark of creativity as it happens. The first of our fringe events is We’re not Going Back written by Boff Whalley and directed by Yvette Huddleston. It tells the story of sisters Olive, Mary and Isabel who support the local miners by setting up a branch of Women Against Pit Closures. Set in West Yorkshire during the miners’ strike in 1985, this hard-hitting play celebrates the power of community and ordinary people resisting a government intent on destruction. The play will be complemented by live music from musicians Lorna Bird and Mairead O’Donnell. The play will be performed on February 27th, 28th and 29th in the Wildman Studio.

Stagefright Comedy nights feature throughout the Spring/Summer season, filling the Wildman Studio with laughter on Saturday nights. February 15th, April 4th, May 23rd and July 4th will showcase the finest comedy acts on the UK and international comedy circuits. Future line-ups include Meryl O’Rourke, Noel James, Ivan Brackenbury and Tom Binns.

Ilkley Playhouse is becoming well known for the quality of music events it hosts, thanks to our Theatre Manager, Justine Sowden. This season sees the return of two sell-out shows The Music of John Denver and Laurel Canyon Union. In July, Chris Bannister will be performing John Denver favourites such as Sunshine on My Shoulders, Take Me Home Country Roads, Leaving on a Jet Plan and of course, Annie’s Song. Laurel Canyon Union will be filling the studio in May with their tribute to 60s/70s West Coast America, playing well known songs from artists such as Jackson Browne, Neil Young, The Eagles and James Taylor.

For the latest events please check our website and Facebook page – new information is being constantly added. You can also find out more on our website about hiring our space and how a number of local businesses, organisations and community groups are using the space and facilities at Ilkley Playhouse.

Caroline Mutton