Cast Set for the Criterion Theatre's 150th Anniversary Gala Performance

The event is on 24 June.

By: Jun. 17, 2024
Cast Set for the Criterion Theatre's 150th Anniversary Gala Performance
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To celebrate its 150th anniversary, the Criterion Theatre will host a special gala performance on 24 June 2024 at the historic venue in the heart of London’s West End. Directed by Michael Fentiman, the gala will be hosted by Stephen Fry, celebrating the theatre’s rich history featuring songs, sketches and scenes from the last 150 years. 

Announced today, performances from an all-star cast of over 40 actors and musicians will include highlights from productions at the iconic theatre over the years.

Musical theatre stars Roshani AbbeyAudrey Brisson, Tanasha Chege, Jenny FitzpatrickNadine HigginEllis KirkZizi Strallen and Johnson Willis will perform songs from Amélie, Elegies, Mack & Mabel and current production, Two Strangers (Carry A Cake Across New York).

Esteemed stage actors Amanda AbbingtonSam AlexanderTom BennettJulian BleachGunnar CautheryForbes MassonPippa NixonSimon Paisley DayMark Quartley, Jenny Rainsford, Ian RedfordTom Rhys Harries, Rosie Sheehey and Angus Wright will perform scenes and excerpts from the likes of Noel Coward, Joe Orton, Terrence Rattigan, Tom Stoppard plus many others.

Joe Stilgoe will present a brand-new opening number composed especially for the evening, and for one night only The Reduced Criterion Company will take to the stage. 

The original Mischief West End cast of The Comedy About A Bank Robbery will also return to the stage with a scene from the hit show, they are; Charlie Russell, Nancy Zammit, Henry LewisJonathan SayerHenry ShieldsDave HearnGreg TannahillChris Leask, Jeremy Lloyd, Ellie Morris and Holly Sumpton.

The one night only production will be directed by Michael Fentiman, has lighting design by Richard Howell, sound design by Dominic Beale and music supervision by Barnaby Race.

Stephen Fry said: “To celebrate 150 years of the Criterion Theatre, I am very proud, as Chairman of the Criterion Theatre Trust and lover of this gorgeous jewel box of a West End house, to be hosting our 150th Anniversary Gala on the evening of the 24th June. Aside from saluting the matchless history of this beloved venue, we are celebrating the work we do, as a charitable trust, to encourage and develop new talent from all over Britain. This will help highlight and fund our 150Tix initiative, which offers 150 free tickets a week to the under21s throughout the spring and summer, as well as our work in providing experience, mentorship, guidance and opportunity in new writing and all aspects of theatre to young people from around the country. But above all the Gala will be a joyous and entertaining occasion, full of fun, mischief, and delight. Out of respect to the wishes of the theatre management, I will be hosting this event fully clothed. For most of the time.”

The Gala is a celebration of the Criterion’s past, present and future and will be raising funds for the theatre’s 150TIX scheme. Begun in the spring of this anniversary year, offering 150 free tickets a week for eight weeks to under 21 year olds, the theatre hopes to raise funds to continue the scheme  - £75,000 will enable it to extend the scheme for a further 20 weeks.  Encouraging live theatre experiences which it is hoped will inspire not just future audiences but perhaps future theatre workforces.

Michael Fentiman said: “I am terribly excited to have been invited to direct the Criterion’s 150th Anniversary Celebration. The Criterion holds a very special place in my heart, as my “back to work” venue in 2021, when the run of my production of Amélie re-opened the theatre after its pandemic closure. It will be a privilege to bring our wonderful cast of “Criterion Friends” back to the stage, to raise funds in aid of such a good cause! We hope to bring an evening of fun and mischief that raises a salute to the history of one of the West End’s most iconic locations - filled with memories, scenes and songs from across the years - both those lost to time and our modern classics. With lots of surprises in store (not least Stephen Fry keeping his clothes on) I’m sure it’s going to be an unmissable evening of entertainment.”


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