October saw our first Loft Theatre Main House show of the season, William Wilkinson’s production of John Osborne’s The Entertainer, and featured some stunning central performances. The play has lost none of its potency, and is as relevant today as it was when it was first presented in the late 50s – it is no surprise that legendary theatre critic, Michael Billington chose to include it in his book, The 101 Greatest Plays.

Next up we have one of the biggest shows the Loft Theatre has ever tackled with our Christmas offering of Oliver!, which features both animals and children in abundance and has completely dispelled the urban myth of who you should never work with! With over 1100 tickets already sold at the time of writing – more than two weeks before opening night – booking looks to be essential to guarantee seats. This production features one of the largest on stage teams ever assembled here at the Loft with a company that boasts no less than 9 musicians and 42 actors (including dogs!). What is particularly pleasing is that the show marks the return of young performers in numbers to our main stage after a two-year break, with 26 of our actors aged between 8 and 15 years old, as well as the return of (two) Saturday afternoon matinee performances! Don’t forget you can also catch our latest one-nighter, A Brief History of Christmas, on the middle Sunday of the run.

Oliver! will be followed in early January by the returning TellTale team who present The Austerity Games for two nights. In April we will also see a visiting production in the Douglas Studio directed by Greg Cole. Full details will shortly be posted on the website.

Work on the end of the current season and the first half of our 2017/18 season is now well under way and I am delighted to announce further additions to our programme. Firstly, Nathan Dowling will be directing the modern cult musical, Dogfight, in early June, and our 2017/18 season opener in a newly refurbished theatre will be the long-planned William Wilkinson production of Anton Chekhov’s classic play, The Cherry Orchard. I can also reveal that our closing production of 2017 will be one of the great American musicals, Gypsy, which features music and lyrics by Jule Styne and Stephen Sondheim respectively. Auditions for both Dogfight and The Cherry Orchard can be found either in the Oliver! programme or elsewhere on the website.

2016 has been another challenging and exciting year of change here at the Loft, and I am looking forward to more of the same next year, although on a personal level I am planning on being just a little less busy after directing three shows this year. I am hugely appreciative of the support I have received from the Artistic team, particularly Sue Moore, who has been a ‘rock’ in her new role of Associate Artistic Director, the Board of Trustees, and our ‘engine room’, the members of our technical and front of house teams who work tirelessly behind the scenes to complement what is happening on stage. They all clearly remain committed to the delivery of a viable, balanced and varied programme of quality theatre in line with our available resources. In closing, may I wish you all a happy festive period and a healthy and prosperous 2017. Please do get in touch if you wish to discuss your ideas, raise any suggestions or just comment on what is happening at the theatre.

Tim | e – ad@loft-theatre.co.uk