Dame Judi Dench Launches £600,000 Appeal To Build Rehearsal Block, Band Room And Offices at The Mill at Sonning Theatre

An afternoon event was held celebrating her life and career.

By: Apr. 17, 2024
Dame Judi Dench Launches £600,000 Appeal To Build Rehearsal Block, Band Room And Offices at The Mill at Sonning Theatre
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Dame Judi Dench has launched a £600,000 fundraising appeal for a new rehearsal block, a band room and offices at the Mill at Sonning Theatre with an afternoon event celebrating her life and career.

Hosted by actor and writer Simon Williams, Dame Judi spoke in depth about her incredible career spanning across film, theatre, and television. Recounting how she can remember whole texts of Shakespeare, the Oscar-winning actress stood up and performed an entire soliloquy by Viola from Twelfth Night, prompting a standing ovation from the sold-out audience.

Simon and Dame Judi were also joined on stage by Sewa Zamba and Reeus Sugden, second year students from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, from where Dame Judi is an alumni. Sewa and Reeus performed selected lines from The Merchant of Venice and Macbeth, and were given a potted masterclass from an impressed Dame Judi.

Sally Hughes, managing director of The Mill at Sonning, said: Like so many regional theatres, the Mill is always in need of modernising and updating. Planning permission has been granted for the building now we just have to raise the money. It is a two-storey building on stilts so that we don't lose valuable car parking spaces. It has more offices and storage space for wardrobe and props. It will have a band room for our annual Christmas blockbuster musical. The building next to it will have a new roof and also be upgraded. This building currently houses the dressing rooms and backstage offices. The rehearsal room will be at the top of the new building.

“The Dame Judi afternoon was a fantastic start in our aim to raise £600k and we will holding more special events throughout the year. It was so special havng acting royalty treading our boards. I found myself wiping away a few tears when Dame Judi performed the speech from Twelfth Night, it was beautiful and amazing to witness.”

The Mill at Sonning Theatre

Set majestically on the banks of the River Thames, the Mill at Sonning Theatre is celebrating more than 40 years of entertainment. Uniquely, as one of the only dinner theatres in the United Kingdom, it has gained unrivalled praise both nationally and internationally, winning awards such as the 2023 UK  Theatre Award Winner for the Best Musical Production for GYPSY, and The Most Welcoming Theatre 2016, 2017 and 2018. The intimate theatre seats 217. The elegant restaurant, separate from the theatre but within the premises, with views over the river Thames has the friendliest young staff of waiters and waitresses. A spinning waterwheel features in the gorgeous bar. Only a short taxi journey from the Elizabeth Line (Reading Station or Twyford Station), The Mill at Sonning Theatre is the perfect day trip from London. A two-course meal, coffee and tea, and a beautiful programme are included in the price of the tickets


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