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Beryl at Ilkley Playhouse tells the story of a sporting legend

Beryl opens at Ilkley Playhouse on 3rd November

Caroline Mutton looks at what's coming up this autumn at Ilkley Playhouse including the next production, Beryl.

Opening in the Wharfeside theatre on Thursday 3rd November is Maxine Peake’s phenomenal play: Beryl. The play tells the true story of a woman who is quite possibly the nation’s most unsung sporting legend, a woman who made history and defied all odds. This play is a tribute to her and her remarkable life. Beryl Burton was, quite simply, a phenomenon. Born in Leeds, Beryl Charnock collapsed in the middle of her 11 plus exam and was rushed to hospital where she was diagnosed with rheumatic fever. After spending nine months in hospital and a further fifteen months convalescing, she was advised that vigorous exercise and physical exertion were out of the question for her. What drove her was a fierce determination to disprove every doctor, teacher and employer who said she would never amount to anything. At fifteen, she left school and got a job in a factory where she met keen young cyclist Charlie Burton. He ignited her passion for cycling and she quickly discovered the thrill and freedom she experienced on her bike. It was the beginning of a journey that would see Beryl push herself to the extreme to achieve true sporting greatness. She dominated the sport throughout the 1950s, 60s and 70s, becoming five-time world champion and best British all-rounder for twenty-five consecutive years. She is regarded as the greatest woman to ever ride on two wheels. Beryl Burton showed the world what you can do if you really dedicate yourself to achieving your goals. In her lifetime she didn’t get the recognition she deserved, but thanks to Maxine’s wonderful writing, she serves as an inspiration to a whole new generation of women and cyclists. Following the matinee performance on Saturday 5th November, Beryl Burton's daughter, Denise Burton-Cole, will take part in a Q and A session. A top cyclist in her own right, Denise rode alongside her mother for Great Britain in the 1972 World Championship and won bronze in the 1975 World Individual Pursuit Championship. There will be a short comfort break following the performance and the Q and A session should last approximately 30 minutes. The play runs until Saturday 12th November.

Our vintage fair returns on Saturday 29th October from 10am till 4pm, selling stunning vintage fashion and homeware items. Organised by Jill Coulson, of locally based vintage firm Alfie Robot Retro, vintage lovers will have the opportunity to explore the twenty stalls of vintage clothing, homeware, kitchenware, furniture, toys, vinyl and many more items from the 1920s to the 1980s. Entry is £1 per person (under 16s free).

On Friday 18th November join Celtic folk trio Roisin Ban for an evening of lively Celtic folk music and song. This is the band’s debut performance at Ilkley Playhouse but this accomplished, professional band is well respected on the UK folk scene, having performed at numerous folk festivals in the UK. Meaning White Rose in Irish, Roisin Ban will be playing a mix of mainly traditional Irish and Scottish folk songs and tunes.

Award winning tribute artist Richard Griffin performs Elvis – The Songbook on Saturday 19th November, singing many of Elvis’ classic hits including My Way, Suspicious Minds, Blue Suede Shoes and many more. So get your blue suede shoes on and join us for a night of all things Elvis.

The Soul Train Experience is back by popular demand on Saturday 26th November to delight audiences with their fantastic renditions of timeless Soul and Motown classics. Climb aboard and take a journey back in time to the sweet soulful years of the 60s and 70s, tributing legendary artists such as Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Otis Redding, Stevie Wonder and many more. Soul Train features two powerful vocalists, who together deliver an energetic, flamboyant performance with outstanding vocals and stage presence.

Our Christmas production is Brandon Thomas’ Charley’s Aunt opening on 8th December. This classic farce is set in Oxford during the 1890s. The imminent visit of Charles Wykeham’s Aunt, Donna Lucia, provides an excuse for Charles and Jack to invite their young ladies to meet her. When a telegram arrives postponing Donna Lucia’s visit, they persuade their amiable friend Babbs to impersonate the Aunt and the fun really begins! First performed in 1892, it became the longest running play worldwide, a Christmas favourite, also adapted for plays and musicals.

Talking of Christmas, another date for your diary: Ilkley Playhouse Christmas coffee morning takes place on Saturday 3rd December from 9.30am-1.00pm. Come along for some festive cheer and enjoy watching our young actors perform. Enjoy a mince pie, a warming drink, mingle with friends old and new, browse our Christmas stalls and win a wonderful raffle prize.

To book tickets for all our plays and events visit or contact Ilkley Playhouse box office on 01943 609539.


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