Producing great drama in Ilkley since 1928, Ilkley Playhouse has released its Autumn/Winter line up which offers a wide range of quality plays, events, courses, music and family entertainment.
Caroline Mutton from the community theatre looks at what audiences can look forward to:
Our Autumn/Winter season opens in the Wharfeside theatre with George Bernard Shaw’s Mrs Warren’s Profession running from 15th to the 24th September. Mrs Warren’s daughter Vivie has never really known much about her mother. A sensible young woman, she has enjoyed a comfortable upbringing, a Cambridge education, a generous monthly allowance and now has ambitions to go into Law. Is it conceivable that her privilege and respectability have been financed from the profits of the world’s oldest profession? How will Vivie react when she finds out the truth about her mother’s empire? Banned, censored and controversial during George Bernard Shaw’s lifetime, this play resonates in new ways for today’s audience. It shines a light on mother and daughter relationships and the values we hold dear.
In November Beryl opens in the Wharfeside theatre. Written by Maxine Peake, Beryl tells the remarkable true story of unsung champion cyclist Beryl Burton. She dominated cycling in the 50s, 60s and 70s, becoming British record holder, world record holder an MBE and an OBE. What is even more remarkable is that Beryl had a heart condition and early in her life doctors had advised that she could never take part in strenuous activities. 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. The play runs from 3rd to the 12th November.
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.
We kick off the New Year with one of the greatest musicals ever written: Guys and Dolls. First performed on Broadway in in 1950, it is now a period piece but Frank Loesser’s songs are hard wired into our memory banks and can still make us laugh and occasionally cry. It tells the intertwined love stories of Nathan Detroit and Miss Adelaide and Sky Masterson and Sarah Brown. Directed by David Kirk and choreographed by Ted Oxley-Kirk, this production promises a joyous evening of vitality, energy and pure pleasure. Guys and Dolls opens on 10th January.
Our first Wildman production of the Autumn Season opens on 7th February. Set in the present day and post-World War Two, Three Mothers is an award winning play by Matilda Velevitch that immerses the audience in the personal lives and the dilemmas facing its three heroes. Given what is happening in the world, this is a play of our time. This is outstanding storytelling. There is pathos, nostalgia and some laughter. You will leave the theatre feeling uplifted and inspired.
You don’t have to wait too long to see our first fringe production, Bard in the Yard. Fringe productions give our audiences and members additional opportunities to see a wide range of theatre and sometimes to showcase new writing. Following much acclaim in previous years, Bard in the Yard returns with a thirty minute version of Romeo and Juliet directed by Dick Hebbert. In addition there will be half an hour of 6-8 Shakespearian duologues directed by Andrew Leggott. Performances will take place on Saturday 27th August at 7.30pm in the Wildman Studio and in the Manor House Yard (open air) on Sunday 28th and Monday 29th August (Bank Holiday) at 2pm.
Our popular Stagefright Comedy Clubs continue to feature throughout the Autumn/Winter season, filling the Wildman Studio with laughter on Saturday nights. Line-ups on 1st October and 28th January will showcase the finest comedy acts on the UK and international comedy circuits. Over the years, the club has featured the likes of Joe Lycett, Chris Ramsey, Gary Delaney, Shazia Mirza and Justin Moorhouse.
Ilkley Playhouse is now well-known for the quality and variety of music events it hosts and this season is no exception. Soul Train returns on 26th November, to delight audiences with their fantastic renditions of timeless Soul and Motown classics. Following a stunning debut performance in the Wildman Studio in 2022, Jon Palmer Acoustic Band returns on 18th February. The band is best described as “exploding out of the same box as The Pogues, The Saw Doctors and The Waterboys”. On 18th November we see the debut performance of Celtic folk trio Roisin Ban, playing a mix of mainly traditional Irish and Scottish folk songs and tunes. Award winning tribute artist Richard Griffin performs Elvis – The Songbook on 19th November, singing many of Elvis’ classic hits including My Way, Suspicious Minds, Blue Suede Shoes and many more.
Our vintage fair returns on 29th October, selling stunning fashion and homeware items from the 1920s to the 1980s. Come along to our Christmas coffee morning on 3rd December for some festive cheer and to browse our Christmas stalls.
Our Poetry Course is back by popular demand, starting on 15th September. The course is aimed at anyone who enjoys reading and discussing poetry, focusing on twentieth century poetry from England and elsewhere.
We have a wonderful new event lined up on 13th November: AbidA – A Feast for the Senses. Based on a traditional North African ritual, the performance consists of seven scenes which present evocations of each of seven colours through dance, sound, text, imagery and fragrance. Each scene has its own particular ensemble of musicians and dancers.
You can get your hands on a copy of the Autumn/Winter programme at Ilkley Playhouse, in local libraries, Ilkley Visitor Information Centre, the Clarke Foley Centre and in businesses throughout the town.
For the latest plays and events please check our website, Facebook page and Instagram account. New information is being constantly added. You can also find out more on our website about hiring our venue, costume and prop hire, our Greenroom drama classes and how you can get involved. To book tickets for all our plays and events visit www.ilkleyplayhouse.co.uk or contact Ilkley Playhouse box office on 01943 609539.
Looking ahead to our Spring/Summer Season we have a feast of plays in store including The Revlon Girl, Nell Gwynn, A History of Falling Things, Blithe Spirit and Lovesong. For the first time, we have a new season ticket offer. Buy your tickets for all eight Wharfeside 2022/2023 productions at the same time and get one play free, saving you up to £12. Take your seats for some of the best theatre in town!