Stories and announcements

6Apr. 2020.

Can you help Wilton’s?

Donate to Wilton's

Wilton's has faced many challenges in its 161-year history. It has survived a fire in 1877, two world wars and the threat of demolition in 1964.

We now find ourselves at another challenging juncture. Following government measures to slow the spread of Coronavirus, we have had to close our beautiful and unique building until further notice.

As you may know, we’re unlike many other theatres in that we are a charity but we receive no Arts Council funding or in fact any statutory funding. We have to make sure our 350 seats are filled for each performance and on top of that raise an additional £1 million to keep our building running and enable us to programme and produce world-class art.

Without you, our wonderful audience, in our building it is very difficult for us to maintain self-sufficiency. But we are committed to finding a way through this period so we can look forward to the future and the many exciting productions and projects ahead, especially our Christmas 2020 production.

To do this, we will need your help and we are therefore asking you today to support us and to do so generously.  

Your donation will help secure our future and the future of a generation of artists we work with.

We realise that many of the organisations you visit will be asking similarly of you and we appreciate that you may not feel able to do so; these are exceptionally hard times for the nation and indeed the world. If you do feel able to donate, we will be extremely grateful and, for us at Wilton’s, every pound will make a difference at this time.

So, whether it’s £10, £100 or £1,000, please donate here today.

It is only with your support that we can continue to present extraordinary theatre and music for all of London and everyone with a curious imagination.  

Thank you.

Photo: © Paul Marc Mitchell
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24Mar. 2020.

An update from us all at Wilton's

Following government measures to slow the spread of Coronavirus, we have now closed our beautiful building until further notice.   

We will reopen neither as a theatre nor as a bar before 22nd June.   

We have been in touch with bookers for March, April, May and June shows and building tours. This year's Wilton’s Music 4all Festival has also been cancelled. All participants have been notified.

Wilton's is a charity and we receive no regular public funding. It takes over £2 million a year to sustain our unique East End building – the oldest Grand Music Hall in the world – and present our programme of extraordinary theatre and music.        

If you are able to support us at this time, we ask you to donate today
. Your donation will ensure we can keep presenting world-class theatre and music in our magical building for all of London and everyone with a curious imagination.         

Thank you again for your understanding and support,   
The Wilton's Team  
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13Mar. 2020.

An important update about Wilton's

Following the government's advice yesterday (Monday 16th March) that people should not go to pubs, clubs, theatres and other venues, Wilton's will be closing for the foreseeable future.     

We will reopen neither as a theatre nor bar before the end of March.   

We will be in touch with bookers for Walking to Jerusalem, Artists Unknown, The Turn of the Screw, OneTrackMinds, Ida Barr: Granarchist and building tours.   

Wilton's is a charity and we receive no regular public funding. It takes over £2 million a year to sustain our unique East End building – the oldest Grand Music Hall in the world – and present our programme of extraordinary theatre and music.     

We would be extremely grateful if you were able to take this opportunity to donate to Wilton's, so that we can keep presenting world-class theatre and music in our magical building for all of London and everyone with a curious imagination.    

Thank you for your understanding and support.
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11Mar. 2020.

Sasha Regan's All-Male H.M.S. Pinafore has a full crew!

Come and sail the ocean blue with Sasha Regan's All-Male H.M.S. Pinafore, docking at Wilton's this April!

The award-winning team that brought The Pirates of Penzance to Wilton’s take you below deck, where World War II troops set out a distraction from the goings on above board with Gilbert and Sullivan’s classic comic operetta.

Full cast announced as follows:

Alan Richardson as Josephine

David McKechnie as Sir Joseph Porter

Richard Russell Edwards as Hebe

Matthew McDonald as Captain Corcoran 

Danny Lane as Buttercup

Matthew Pennington as Dick Deadeye

Ensemble: Chris BreisteinTom DuernMatthew FacchinoCallum FitzgeraldLiam GartlandRyan HallSam Kipling and Phillip Murch.

Book now for plenty of mischief, mistaken identities and surprises on the high seas... (15th April – 9th May).

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3Feb. 2020.

Announcing our Summer season - on sale now!

Come and join us this Summer when we're celebrating the return of some of our favourite companies and some extraordinary new theatre and music shows.

With every ticket in our Summer season £30 and under, there's something for everyone to enjoy!

Some highlights include:

The world premiere of Wilton’s Music 4all Festival (11th – 16th May) showcasing the best emerging artists in Opera, Contemporary & Jazz, Rock, Pop & Indie, Cabaret & Alternative and Urban, Electronic & DJ.

City of London Sinfonia
present I’m a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star, a tribute to the original rock ‘n’ roll stars, Mozart and Vivaldi. Both took cities famed for parties by storm, were virtuoso performers as well as composers, and led lives that were as chaotic and incident filled as any rock ’n’ roll colossus from the 60s, 70s or 80s. 

FRIEND (The One With Gunther)
(1st – 6th June) reimagines the TV classic Friends through the eyes of barista Gunther. Come and settle down in Central Perk to hear the true insider story of what happened to Ross, Rachel, Phoebe, Chandler, Monica and Joey.

Horse Country
(30th June – 4th July) is a delightful and confusing satire that offers a window into a world of menace, hilarity, disappointment and improbability, all delivered by a magnificent comic duo.

Following the storming success of HMS Pinafore last year, Opera della Luna are back with The Burglar’s Opera (2nd – 5th September). This hysterically funny ‘new’ comic opera by Jeff Clarke and Stephen Wyatt is based on a short story by WS Gilbert and set to a sparkling score of music ‘stolen’ from Sullivan’s rarely-heard orchestral works.

Get involved at Wilton’s! Apply for our Fringe Foundations scheme supports a fresh new company to develop a production that is going to the 2020 Edinburgh Fringe. Apply for our Plays Without Décor scheme that offers four emerging directors the chance to use our studio free of charge for a week in order to workshop or develop a new idea.

Book online or ring our Box Office on 020 7702 2789 (Lines are open 11am – 6pm, Monday – Friday).

The full season:

Wilton’s Music 4all Festival, presented by Wilton’s Music Hall (11th – 16th May)
I’m a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star, presented by City of London Sinfonia (20th – 23rd May)


FRIEND (The One With Gunther), presented by James Seabright (1st – 6th June)
Dead Poets Live (24th – 25th June)
EastEndless, presented by Obsessive Entertainment (26th – 27th June)
Horse Country, written by CJ Hopkins and presented by Flying Bridge Theatre and Rive Productions (30th June – 4th July)


Ida Barr: Granarchist, presented by Christopher Green (7th July)
OneTrackMinds, presented by VERYFINE (8th – 9th July)
Marlene in Havana, presented by Latin Rediscovery (13th July)
The Marilyn Monroe Story, presented by The Cabaret House (15th July)
Pop Up Vintage Fair (16th July)
Ashes to Ashes, presented by Cabaret vs Cancer (20th – 21st July)
Tricity Vogue’s All Girl Swing Band (22nd – 23rd July)
Martin, Izzy and Friends (30th July)


First Piano on the Moon, presented by James Seabright (3rd – 5th August, 24th – 26th August)
Kings of Silent Film, presented by The Lucky Dog Picturehouse (10th – 13th August)  

The Burglar’s Opera, presented by Opera della Luna (2nd – 5th September)

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17Jan. 2020.

Actor musicianship in Macbeth

'I’ll charm th' air to give a sound, While you perform your antic round…'

The Watermill Ensemble was formed in 2017 and its ensemble of multi-talented actor musicians have developed an approach to Shakespeare that incorporates live music into their bold productions.

The actors in Macbeth sing and play instruments live throughout the production. Violin, piano, drums, bass guitar, electric guitar and percussion are all used. Incorporating music into the play adds excitement, individual qualities to each character and a sense of liveness that supports the atmosphere intended for each scene. Having music to accompany the storyline or create an atmosphere with an instrumental underscore can give more clues to the plot or how a character is feeling.  

For example, in Macbeth, Bloodflood by alt-J is used during the crowning scenes of Macbeth and then Malcolm. The lyrics of the song connote two messages: the bloodline of a family possessing the throne and the bloodshed that has been caused for Macbeth to get the crown. Whilst L-O-V-E is sung by Lady Macbeth to show her adoration and love for her husband. Other songs that are used are Intro by The XX, The House of the Rising Sun by The Animals and In Dreams by Roy Orbison. 

If you’d like to hear more of the music that inspires this production you can access the Spotify playlist that Director, Paul Hart, created at the start of rehearsals.

Book now for Macbeth (22nd January – 8th February)!

Macbeth is performed in repertory with the Watermill Theatre's A Midsummer Night's Dream (29th January – 15th February). 

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14Jan. 2020.

Designing A Midsummer Night's Dream for Wilton's

'We will meet, and there we may rehearse most obscenely and courageously. Take pains. Be perfect. Adieu.'

Paul Hart’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream for The Watermill Ensemble is set in the Victorian era with the backdrop of a run down and crumbling theatre, owned by “Actor Manager” Theseus, so its staging here at Wilton’s Music Hall is particularly well matched.

Designer Katie Lias created a deliberately historic setting for the production, staged originally at the Watermill Theatre, and used many reference photos from the Wilton’s archive when thinking about how to create the required authenticity and atmosphere for the production design. From the set with the fly system’s ropes and unfinished flooring, to the costume rail, prop box and paint tower these significant elements all combine to constantly remind the audience that they are watching a play, not real life, and that then widens the boundaries for magic to ensue.

Wilton's Music Hall in 1978

As part of her design process Katie created a scrap book of images, materials and textures that may inspire the design, and these initial ideas were discussed with the director to make sure they fit with the director’s overall vision. This then led to the creation of the model box of the set to show the production department, director and actors, and which could then be used as reference by the production team during the building.

You can spot similarities to Wilton’s auditorium in these photos of the original model box!

Book now for the Watermill Ensemble's A Midsummer Night's Dream (29th January – 15th February)

A Midsummer Night's Dream is performed in repertory with Macbeth (22nd January – 8th February).

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6Jan. 2020.

Music 4all Festival Winners now announced!

Last year we invited applications from all over the UK for young, emerging musical artists who wanted to take part in our Music 4all Festival (11th – 16th May).   The winners are now being mentored by a professional individual or organisation and rehearsing at Wilton’s, ready to perform live as part of the Festival in May.

We are thrilled to announce that the winners in each category are as follows:

Opera: 11th May

Lucy Elston
Thomas Isherwood

Edward Kim
Theodor Uggla

With thanks to Nicholas Roberts and English National Opera for mentoring the Opera category.

Contemporary & Jazz: 12th May

Gabrielle Chudi
Julian James  

With thanks to Bengi Ünsal for mentoring the Contemporary & Jazz category.

Rock, Pop & Indie: 14th May

Foxes & Hedgehogs
Saachi Sen
Sam Wilkinson

With thanks to Dan Gillespie Sells for mentoring the Rock, Pop & Indie category.

Cabaret & Alternative: 15th May

Ruth Connick – Selector Le Pooch
Ena Fay
Freddie Love

With thanks to Tim Whitehead for mentoring the Cabaret & Alternative category.

Urban, Electronic & DJ: 16th May

Jess Fisher
Eliza Willmott

With thanks to DJ Yoda for mentoring the Urban, Electronic & DJ category.  

We are also thrilled to announce that the eight groups taking part in Songs for the Hall, a day of music making on 13th May are: 
St Edmund’s Catholic Primary School, London Fields Primary School, Lansbury Lawrence Primary School, St Paul’s Whitechapel CE Primary School, Hermitage Primary School, St Peter’s London Docks Primary School, Mayflower Primary School, Isle of Dogs Children’s Choir.

Songs for the Hall will be presented in association with Snape Maltings’ Friday Afternoons, with free vocal leadership training for all teachers involved.    

Book tickets for each event by clicking the links above!
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11Dec. 2019.

Christmas Opening Hours

Come and spend your Christmas at Wilton's. Whether you're seeing the magical retelling of Christmas Carol – a fairy tale or not, we're open to everyone. So, come and join us for something to eat and drink throughout the festive season. 

Christmas Opening Hours - Building
Monday 23rd December: 10am-11pm (Phone lines 11am-6pm)
Tuesday 24th December: 10am-6pm (Phone lines 11am-6pm)
Wednesday 25th December: CLOSED 
Thursday 26th December: CLOSED 
Friday 27th December: 10am-11pm (Phone lines 11am-6pm)
Saturday 28th December: 1-11pm (Phone lines closed)
Sunday 29th December: CLOSED
Monday 30th December: 10am-11pm (Phone lines 11am-6pm)
Tuesday 31st December: 10am-6pm (Phone lines 11am-6pm)
Wednesday 1st January: CLOSED
Thursday 2nd January: 10am-11pm (Phone lines 11am-6pm)
Friday 3rd January: 10am-11pm (Phone lines 11am-6pm)
Saturday 4th January:  1-11pm (Phone lines closed)

Christmas Opening Hours - Bars
Monday 23rd December: 1-11pm
Tuesday 24th December: 1-6pm
Wednesday 25th December: CLOSED 
Thursday 26th December: CLOSED 
Friday 27th December: 1-11pm 
Saturday 28th December: 1-11pm 
Sunday 29th December: CLOSED
Monday 30th December: 1-11pm 
Tuesday 31st December: 1-6pm
Wednesday 1st January: CLOSED
Thursday 2nd January: 1-11pm
Friday 3rd January: 5-11pm
Saturday 4th January:  1-11pm

Eating + Drinking Information
Our caterers, Gatherers, serve a special festive menu from 5pm to 9pm on show days only and a lunch menu is available before matinee performances.

Merry Christmas from all of us here at Wilton's Music Hall. We'll see you in the New Year for our Spring season.

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25Nov. 2019.

Piers Torday on retelling Christmas Carol – a fairy tale

My earliest and first memory of A Christmas Carol is Albert Finney in his night cap being beckoned to his gravestone by a ghost that this young child viewer found unseasonably terrifying. But at the time, I had little idea that this memorable 1970’s incarnation was just one staging post on a long and glorious path that began in 1843 when Charles Dickens first published his “little Christmas book”.

Original First Edition Inside Cover, 1843

It took just six weeks for the first theatre adaptation to reach the stage, which played in London for more than 40 nights before transferring to New York. In the year of publication alone, there were nine separate theatrical adaptations, including the first ever musical version. Dickens himself was famous for his own public readings of the story, giving over 127 such recitals in England and America. And the process of retelling has continued for 176 years.  From stage to the many film adaptations, cartoon to musical, from the RSC to the Muppets, there are nearly thirty published adaptations of A Christmas Carol, and dozens more are written every Christmas. There was even a mime version by Marcel Marceau in 1973.

So when, following my recent adaptation of John Masefield’s The Box of Delights in the same space, Wilton’s asked me to retell this very popular Christmas classic, my first response was - why? What can we possibly say about this story and these characters, that hasn’t already been said?

It turns out, quite a lot. For, whilst the tale has been retold for puppets and toys, and Scrooge performed by men young and old, the central role has remained resolutely masculine. We wondered what would happen when we re-examined this classic fairy tale from a woman’s perspective and re-imagined the complex central character?   

A Christmas Carol
is set in an intensely patriarchal society. When a woman married in the 1840’s, the rights of a woman were legally given to her husband. He took control of her property, earnings and money. If he wished to spend her money on his business or his debts, he did not require her consent. In exchange for this, she took his name. And until the 1857 Matrimonial Causes Act, divorce was only possible by the passage of a private act through the Houses of Parliament.

Early Victorian daughters, like the Fan Scrooge that Dickens imagines, were meant to get in line behind their brothers, like Ebenezer. In Dickens’ version, Fan dies early, leaving Ebenezer distraught.  But what if it had been the other way around? What if Fan Scrooge had tried to make her way in a man’s world of power and profit, marrying moneylender Jacob Marley and then inheriting his business as his widow?

You’ll have to come and see the show to find out, but one thing has not changed. Dickens wrote this enduring and uplifting story to heal the divisions of his own age, and create “a better common understanding among those whose interests are identical and who depend upon each other”. He wanted, in other words, to bring all people together, at a precious time of year, united in a love of the common good. And, at a time of great division across the country and the world, so do we. 
Piers Torday, writer of Christmas Carol – a fairy tale

Book now for Christmas Carol – a fairy tale (29th November 2019 – 4th January 2020) and experience spellbinding magic, haunting music, and petrifying puppets in the truly Dickensian atmosphere of our Hall!

Piers Torday's latest book The Frozen Sea is out now and will be available to buy at Wilton's Music Hall this Christmas!

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