Stella Gonet, Pamela Miles, Matilda Ziegler, Flora Montgomery and Ben Stock are among actors lined up for this year’s Frinton Summer Theatre.
Known as the UK’s oldest remaining repertory theatre, it is returning for its 78th season, with seven productions running from July 11 to August 27 under producer Clive Brill at The McGrigor Hall in Frinton-on-Sea, Essex.
The programme opens with Strangers on a Train, adapted from the classic Patricia Highsmith thriller by Craig Warner – the dramatisation used in the award-winning 2013 production in London’s West End. Directed by Jonathan Tafler, it stars Abram Rooney, whose most recent roles include Christopher in A Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time in the West End and Romeo in Romeo and Juliet at the Union Theatre, who plays the sociopathic Charles Bruno alongside Christopher Weeks as Guy Haines and Molly Chesworth as Anne with Nesba Crenshaw, Kieron Jecchinis, William Meredith and Chin Nyenwe. It runs from July 11 to 15.
Next from July 18 to 22 is a revival of Neil Simon’s hit comedy The Odd Couple, made famous by the film with Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon. Directed by Edward Max, it stars John Guerrasio and Will Harrison-Wallace as the sparring flatmates plus Nesba Crenshaw, Rachel Heaton, Kieron Jecchinis, William Meredith, Chin Nyenwe and Abram Rooney.
Flora Montgomery stars as the troubled Hester Collyer in a revival of Terence Rattigan’s The Deep Blue Sea from July 25 to 29 alongside leading TV and stage actor Pamela Miles as Mrs Elton. Directed by Eoin O’Callaghan, the play also stars Lewis Collier as Freddie and Clive Brill as William Collyer with David Alwyn, Nicholas Murchie, Michael Oku and Alisha Williams.
This is followed, from August 1 to 5, by a new production of Patrick Barlow’s screwball adaptation of The 39 Steps which ran in the West End for nine years from 2006. Featuring 150 characters, the comedy has a cast of just four: Max Gell, Natasha Pring, Chris Levens and Andrew Ashford. It is directed by Patrick Marlowe.
Stella Gonet stars as Florence Foster Jenkins in Glorious! by Peter Quilter, a comedy based on the true story of a soprano in 1940s New York who enjoyed a career despite lacking talent – recently filmed with Meryl Street and Hugh Grant. Stella, whose long career spans lead roles in TV’s House of Eliott and Holby City through to Humans and Siblings, is joined in the cast by prolific stage and screen actor Matilda Ziegler, best known for Lark Rise to Candleford, and musical theatre star Ben Stock. It also features Nesba Crenshaw and Pia Laborde Noguez with further casting to be announced. Running from August 8 to 12, it is directed by another leading actor, Amanda Root.
Alan Ayckbourn’s classic comedy Absurd Person Singular follows from August 15 to 19. Directed by Edward Max, it features James Camp, Charles Davies, Vivienne Garnett, Jennifer Greenwood, Philip Starnier and Nina Young.
The final production, running from August 22 to 26, will be Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music, directed by Clive Brill. It stars Taryn Sudding as Desiree, Nigel Richards as Frederik and Carolyn Lyster as Madame Armfeldt with Will Arundell, Ruth Betteridge, Susie Emmett, Rebecca Ferrin, Simon Pontin, Hannah Rose-Thompson and Eleanor Toms.
The programme also includes a comedy night on July 9 at Frinton Lawn Tennis Club, featuring comedians getting ready for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and a music night on July 30, also at Frinton Lawn Tennis Club, with Dot’s Funky Orchestra Experience and The Jazz Slayers.
The season ends with a gala night on August 27 at The McGrigor Hall, hosted by Frinton Summer Theatre’s patron, actor Richard Wilson. It promises top-class guests, helping to raise funds for the Friends of Frinton Theatre, The McGrigor Hall and The Lynda Bellingham Frinton Summer Theatre Debut Fund.