I have already, in previous opinions, talked about supporting our local theatre, the Queen’s Theatre in Hornchurch. However, another local theatre, which is far from being local to where I live, is the Richmond Theatre, right across the other side of London. I have become quite attached to this theatre, in spite of its distance from me, and consider it to be one of the best, outside of the centre of London. I first heard of the Richmond Theatre back in 1999, during the last nationwide tour of The Rocky Horror Show. Being a Rocky nut, when I heard it was playing at Richmond after its London showing, of course I just had to go! My daughter and myself booked seats, and made the trek across the capital! WHERE IS IT? The Richmond Theatre is, as you would imagine, in Richmond, Surrey. It faces a beautiful green area, around which there is plenty of parking space. It is within easy walking distance of Richmond station, which is served by both the underground, and by British Rail from Waterloo. It is in an area of mixed residential and retail establishments, in a fairly affluent part of the outskirts of London. HOW DO YOU GET THERE? By Car: Approach Richmond, and the theatre along the A316. After 6.30 pm there is free parking on Richmond Green, which is right opposite the theatre, and in the Old Deer Park. By Train: Richmond is 20 minutes from Waterloo by British Rail, and the theatre is less than a 10 minute walk from the station. It is approximately 15 minutes from Hammersmith station via the District Line on the underground, or by Silverlink from North London. WHAT IS IT LIKE? From the outside, the theatre resembles one of the old time music hall facades. It does not appear to be particularly large. Indeed, one could easily overlook it if you didn’t know it was there! This, however, is a smokescreen! Once inside, it is surprisingly spacious and comfortable. There are three levels: stalls, (front and rear), dress circle, and upper circle. Each level has its own bar facilities, and there are plenty of toilets. The whole theatre is non-smoking, so if you want a puff during the interval, you have to step outside! The theatre caters for disabled clients, with wheelchair access facilities, and an infrared hearing system. Special headsets can be booked when reserving tickets. There are wheelchair spaces within the theatre, which can be prebooked. Guide dogs are also welcome, so long as you let the theatre know when you book, so that they can issue a seat with extra room for the dog. I have had seats in both rear stalls, and front stalls. Being very short (4 ft 11 inches) I found my view from the rear stalls somewhat restricted, although not severely so, but from the front stalls, even on the side of the auditorium, I could not fault the view. From choice, I would book front stalls each time, especially as the prices only differ by about £2.00 between the two. I haven’t seen a show from either of the circles, so I cannot comment on the views of the stage from either. From experiences in other theatres, I find the atmosphere from the stalls, be they rear or front seats, always superior to those of the circles, and would always book stall seats, whatever I was watching. WHAT IS SHOWING THIS SUMMER? Having just received my spring/summer season brochure, I am extremely pleased at the variety of the shows offered this year. They vary from children’s plays, through comedies, tragedies, musicals, one-night-stands, opera and ballet. There is something to suit virtually every taste in theatre. Below is a brief synopsis of what is available, and dates, taken from the Spring/Summer brochure. Tuesday 2nd – Saturday 6th April A Chaste Maid in Cheapside. This is a comedy, by Thomas Middleton, presented by the Almeida Theatre Company. Monday 8th – Saturday 13th April The M oscow City Ballet Monday 22nd – Saturday 27th April Deathtrap, written by Ira Levin, starring David Soul (of Starsky and Hutch fame) and Susan Penhalligan. A thriller, which has been showing on Broadway. Monday 29th April – Saturday 4th May A woman of no Importance by Oscar Wilde, starring Kate O’Mara and Oliver Tobias. Monday 6th May – Saturday 11th May Single Spies, by Alan Bennet, starring Robert Powell and Liza Goddard. Monday 13th May– Saturday 18th May The Return to the Forbidden Planet by Bob Charlton. Cast from the Queens Theatre Hornchurch. No prizes for guessing where I will be on 18th May! (see my op Two Beeps or not two Beeps) A superb musical. Wednesday 22nd May – Saturday 25th May The Threepenny Opera by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill, performed by the Opera Group. Tuesday 4th June – Saturday 8th June Benefactors by Michael Frayn, starring Neil Pearson and Emma Chambers. This is showing prior to being staged in the West End. Tuesday 2nd – Saturday 6th July Carousel by Rodgers and Hammerstein. Performed by the Twickenham Operatic society, who are celebrating their 75th anniversary. Monday 15th – Saturday 20th July Just Between Ourselves by Alan Ayckbourn, starring Les Dennis and Jean Boht. Monday 22nd July – Saturday 27th July Heaven Can Wait, a musical packed with Buddy Holly hits. Tuesday 30th July – Wednesday 31st July The Magnificent Musicals, starring Ruthie Henshall, with Andrew Halliday and Tim Hower. During the summer holidays, they will be showing children’s plays, such as James and the Giant Peach, and Postman Pat. Monday 7th – Saturday 19th October Blood Brothers, Willy Russell’s superb Musical, fresh from the West End. Monday 28th October – Saturday 2nd November Macbeth by William Shakespeare, starring Sean Bean. This is anothe r must for me, and it is showing at the Richmond prior to being staged in the West End. Monday 11th November – Saturday 16th November The Rocky Horror Show by Richard O’Brien. This is another must for me, and if anyone else from Dooyoo is there on the final showing on the 18th November, I’ll meet you in the stalls bar at the interval! As well as the weekly showings, there are also a number of one-night-stands, some of which will be of interest. I will here show those that I think would be a pretty good night out! Sunday 5th May Bjorn Again. Abba songs recreated. I saw this act at the Last Night of the Proms in the Park and they are superb. Wednesday 29th May Sing-a-long-a Sound of Music. The film version with sub-titles. Don your curtains and habits and join in with all the favourites. Thursday 30th May Magic. A tribute to Freddie Mercury and Queen Sunday 7th July The Bible: The Complete Word of God (abridged) by the Reduced Shakespeare Company. Having seen the Complete works of Shakespeare in the West End, this is another must for me! This is by no means a complete list of performances between now and November, but as you can see, there is tremendous variety, and something for all the family in one way or another. PRICES Ticket prices vary according to production. Prices range from £8.00 in the Upper Circle for Carousel, and one or two others, up to £28.00 for a front stalls ticket to the Moscow City Ballet. Prices for al other productions are somewhere between the two. For groups of ten or more people, there is a reduction of £2.50 per ticket for Monday – Thursday evenings in the stalls or dress circle. For groups of 25 or more, the reduction is £3.50. Schools and colleges can book Monday – Thursday evenings, or any matinee for just £10.00 per ticket, plus a free teacher’s ticket for every 10 seats booked. < br> Senior citizens get £2.00 reduction for Monday-Thursday evenings, plus all matinees, and under 18s get the same reduction. Standby tickets can be purchased one hour before the performance by all concession groups for just £8.00-£10.00 depending on the production. HOW TO BOOK 1) By phoning the Box Office on 0208 940 0088. This will involve a £1.50 booking fee. 2) Through Ticketmaster on 0207 413 9009 or online at www.ticketmaster.co.uk You can also access Ticketmaster through the theatre’s own web-site at www. theambassadors.com/Richmond 3) For group bookings, phone 0208 939 9206 4) To check availability email email@example.com IN CONCLUSION I am a person who likes to support local theatres as well as attend big West End productions. Many of the shows above will be at much higher prices in the West End, to see exactly the same thing. Although it means travelling, I will certainly be attending about half a dozen of the spring/summer productions at Richmond, and if you live within travelling distance, and enjoy going to the theatre, I would urge you to do the same. Many of our local theatres rely on being fully booked in order to keep showing top notch productions. In my view, The Richmond Theatre is one of the best local theatres around, so it is in everyone’s interest to keep it going. Meanwhile, if you DO book something, let me know…maybe we can get a Dooyoo meet up in the bar at one of the performances. Stranger things have happened twix mice and men.