Curtain up on another summer of entertainment

Devon Life|June 2020

Curtain up on another summer of entertainment
CORMAC RICHARDS previews the exciting productions on offer in the forthcoming Summer Play Festival at The Manor Pavilion Theatre in Sidmouth
CORMAC RICHARDS

For over 40 years, the Manor Pavilion Theatre in Sidmouth has been home to a festival of plays throughout the summer, bringing top-quality entertainment to locals and visitors alike.

Whether it is a thriller, a comedy, a drama or a farce, you are bound to find something you will enjoy among the 12 plays performed over 12 weeks.

Providing a variety of plays for as many tastes as possible has been a hallmark of this, one of the longest-running theatre repertory seasons in the UK. This year will mark the eighth year under the helm of Paul TaylorMills, who tells me: “By the end of the summer I will have presented 96 plays at Sidmouth and have yet to repeat a title. It is one of the delightful challenges every year to mine for new and exciting plays with which to entertain. I am as enthusiastic about this summer as ever.”

In times past, there was a local repertory (‘rep’) company around almost every corner – a small company of performers, pulled together to provide audiences with a whole variety of productions.

As the commercial theatres grew, so these small companies faded and dissolved…well, almost. The Manor Pavilion Theatre is still flying the flag. Theatre manager Graham Whitlock reports that 2019 was the most successful season ever; audience levels reached new heights. It is a very popular attraction in the town.

During the time Paul has been the producer, he has gathered some incredibly talented performers and technicians around him who are ensuring the standards of the productions are kept incredibly high. Not least amongst these is Andrew Beckett who not only directs plays, but takes on the extraordinary task of designing the sets for all 12 plays; he returns in 2020 to ensure the season is a visual feast.

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June 2020