“ Address: Ringmead / Bracknell / Berkshire / England / RG12 7PA / Tel: +44 0 1344 484858 „
If you live anywhere in the Berkshire area, then I would really advise you to take notice of South Hill Park, which is a theatre and arts centre based in Bracknell. It really is at the heart of local theatre and over the years since I have been visiting, there have been some fabulous shows performed. The main performances take place in the triple tiered Wilde Theatre which probably has seating for about 250 - 300 people. There is also a smaller theatre which is used for more intimate performances by local groups and also for showing films - although not the most up to date ones. South Hill Park has a very interesting appearance as much of the building is very old. The oldest part of the building is well over 100 years old whereas the Wilde Theatre was only added in 1984 and is quite modern in comparison. The different aspects of the building seem to work very well together and it is also set in quite extensive gardens with lots of parking facilities. The main attraction for me are the varied performances that are staged in the Wilde Theatre. Crowthorne Musical Players and East Berkshire Operatic Society both stage their yearly or twice yearly musicals in this theatre. In recent years we have seen The King and I, My Fair Lady, The Boyfriend, The Pirates of Penzance, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Spend, Spend, Spend! and many more. The standard of both of these groups are incredibly high and viewing these shows are as good as seeing many West End productions for just a fraction of the price! This year in May alone there will be performances of Kiss Me Kate and of Carousel which should both make very good entertainment. South Hill Park also encourages lots of community theatre as well. We have just seen Fantastic Mr Fox and later this year another community show performing Brassed Off! There is also a great variety of other performances too including the Comedy Cellar which is a comedy club that runs every Friday; Swan lake that is being performed by the Vienna Festival Ballet for one day only; and each year there is a Christmas show - usually a pantomime. Last year we saw a very entertaining version of Peter Pan. As well as performances at the theatre there are also plenty of courses, workshops, exhibitions, festivals and fairs. There is really something for everyone including lots for the whole family. There are some great drama workshops for adults and children that will often result in participants being able to take part in performances with the community theatre. My next door neighbour's eleven year old son has taken part in a few of these and as a result has appeared in Oliver!, Peter Pan and just recently Fantastic Mr Fox. It is a great opportunity for children who want to sing or dance and the cost of these workshops and the fact that they take part in performances compares very well with the various theatre schools. You can find out about all that is on by visiting the South Hill Park website and clicking on the whats on diary. http://www.southhillpark.org.uk In fact, pretty much everything that you would want to find out about South Hill Park can be accessed through this very informative website. This includes all the opening times and also directions for how to find South Hill Park. There is also the opportunity to eat and drink at South Hill Park whether you want a pre-theatre supper, a drink after the show or just a coffee and a slice of cake. The food is great and the bar and cafe is very stylish with reasonable prices. The venue can also be hired out for conferences or private functions. It looks like it would be a fabulous place for a wedding with excellent photo opportunities in the grounds. We haven't been to any weddings there but my step daughter did hold her eighteenth birthday party in the Cellar Bar and this was well organised and we were well looked after. Prices for everything are pretty reasonable. We generally pay between ten and fifteen pound for theatre tickets although there are sometimes options for family tickets. You can also become a member and by either paying £22 per individual or £32 per family you can access some very good deals. We have not done this but as we use South Hill Park so much, we really should consider a family membership. Overall South Hill Park is an excellent place to go for local and varied entertainment. It's a lovely place to visit and you will pretty much always be guaranteed to enjoy yourself. And if South Hill Park is too far for you to visit, you probably have something similar on your doorstep!