Stories and announcements

29Nov. 2016.

We're Recruiting

Box Office Assistant (Casual): 
Wilton’s is currently recruiting to expand our team of casual Box Office staff. If you have:

❑ Experience working with Spektrix (or similar)
❑ Keen interest in both the performing arts and heritage conservation.
❑ Excellent organisational skills and ability to multitask.
❑ Strong communication skills and the ability to interact with a wide range of people.
❑ Strong Computer skills, including the use of Microsoft Office suite and google mail & calendars.
❑ Proven ability to work independently and without supervision.
❑A positive ‘can-do’ attitude to work and a desire to work.
❑ Previous experience working in a Box Office.

And would like more information about the role, please contact Liz Arday by email: l.arday@wiltons.org.uk

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18Nov. 2016.

Wilton's New Season is Now on Sale!

January - March 2017. 

From Lord of Thrones, the 10th anniversary of Improvathon bringing 50 hours of non-stop improvised comedy, to an electrifying new production of The Watermill Theatre’s Frankenstein, we are thrilled to introduce you to 2017 at Wilton's.

Download the brochure here: Season-Brochure (PDF)


Kicking off the 2017 season with a bang is Dame Nature – The Magnificent Bearded Lady (10 – 14 January). An evening of hilarious stories from the faded star who has been looking after her facial furniture for as long as she can remember. A poignant, off-kilter show for people who don’t like to judge a woman by her beard. 
The cream of the improv crop will descend on Wilton’s as Extempore Theatre & Something for the Weekend present The 2017 London Jam (16 - 19 January). Featuring a stellar line-up of home-grown spontaneous talent from 2016 Olivier Award winners, The Showstoppers, The Sufferettes and more. An uproarious night perfect for comedy fans and improv newbies alike.

Lord of Thrones (20 – 22 January) – the 10th annual 50 hour Improvathon, will take over over Wilton’s for an entire weekend of pure improvised comedy from some of the world’s funniest performers.

Closer: The Devil’s Violin & Burns Night Ceilidh (24 & 25 January), a musical journey taking audiences from the American South to Italy to Scotland to Argentina, finishing with a raucous and rollicking Burns Night Ceilidh. 

Morgan & West: Parlour Tricks (26 & 27 January) is back for 2017 as The Time Travelling Magicians make a triumphant return to Wilton’s with their mind-boggling, jaw-dropping, brain-burstingly brilliant feats of magic. 


Wilton’s is thrilled to be welcoming the extraordinary The Depraved Appetite of Tarrare the Freak by Wattle & Daub (30 January – 18 February) a phenomenal opera based on the monstrous true story of Tarrare the Freak, an 18th century French revolutionary whose only dream is to be human in a world that sees him as a monster. 

Tom Poster, the musical genius behind The Depraved Appetite of Tarrae the Freak, is also an internationally celebrated pianist and has put together a series of three contrasting concerts to run alongside Tarrare, each drawing on themes from the opera. Chamber Concerts: Tom Poster and Friends (2, 9 &16 February) brings together a number of the country’s celebrated classical musicians for three nights only.

Morgan & West return with their Utterly Spiffing Spectacular Magic Show for Kids and Childish Grown Ups! (16 & 17 February) – their fabulous, fun-filled, mind-frying magic extravaganza for kids and adults alike! 

Presented by DeNada Dance Theatre and choreographed by Carlos Pons Guerra, Ham and Passion (21 & 22 February) is an exhilarating and filmic spectacle that promises to subvert the senses and take you on a journey from the bloody Spanish Civil War to 1950’s Seville.  

In an extraordinary evening combining music and storytelling, OneTrackMinds (23 & 24 February) makes a welcome return to Wilton’s. A dynamic group of writers, artists, musicians and thinkers present a piece of music that has made a difference to their life.

The Sailortown Sea Shanty Festival (25 & 26 February) sails into town for the weekend, celebrating traditional maritime work songs as well as contemporary songs of the sea. Curated by The Trad Academy Sea Shanty Choir, this community-led festival is jam-packed full of music, art and history, featuring some of the finest international performers of maritime music. 

In Art Sung – Alma Mahler (28 February), Alma Mahler's story is explored through her songs, the works of her famous husband, her teacher and lover Zemlinksy and those of the great Germanic composers, Wagner, Schumann and Beethoven. 


Poet in the City return with Langston Hughes: Dreams Deferred (1 March). An exhilarating evening of poetry, music and dance celebrating this iconic Harlem poet, this is an exploration of the remarkable voice of Langston Hughes, a man whose powerful, urgent poetry inspired and empowered a generation of new writers. 

The maestros of swing, Step Out With Swing Patrol (2 March) are back with their usual taster class at 7pm, followed by fun and friendly social dancing until 10:30pm. Open to everyone, from complete beginners to old timers, this is guaranteed to be a great evening full of old-fashioned fun and frolics. 

Dark, dynamic and downright brilliant, No Angel Uncensored (3 & 4 March) is an evening of decadence and devilish delights as Charlie Bicknell, Louise Innes and Richard Casemore entwine anarchy, wit and comic ingenuity with aerial acrobatics and a jockey… Prepare to be unprepared! 

One of the greatest gothic tales of all time comes to life in an electrifying new production of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (7 – 18 March). A transfer from the award winning, internationally renowned Watermill Theatre, Tristan Bernays’ vision tells the story of Frankenstein, a young scientist who brings a gruesome body to life and is horrified by what he has made. This take on a powerful and dark masterpiece explores the timeless relationship between parent and child, isolation, prejudice and revenge. 

Based on true stories from the 1984 miners’ strikes, Undermined (21 - 25 March) tells the epic story of the brave men and women who stood up and fought for what they believed in. Written and performed by Danny Mellor, this is a deeply powerful and human story, bringing together the personal and the political in a way that will have audiences laughing, crying and shaking with anger. 

Fresh from a critically acclaimed run in Edinburgh comes The Reduced Shakespeare Company’s William Shakespeare’s Long Lost First Play (Abridged) (28 March – 1 April). In a better-late-than-never nod to the Bard’s 400th anniversary, the bad boys of abridgement present this ‘new’ play by the man himself, as discovered in a Leicester car park! 

Join performance poet Ivy Davies in the cocktail bar as she sets off on her magical journey through time and space with Play Ground (29 - 31 March), weaving spoken word and song together in this one woman show.

And one more...
It’s fun for all the family as Silver Electra (4 & 5 April) flies into Wilton’s. An exhilarating and fun packed family show telling the story of Amelia Earhart, her mysterious disappearance and an incredible globe-trotting adventure taking audiences from the Australian Outback to America and back again. Presented by English Touring Opera.

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17Nov. 2016.

We're Recruiting: Marketing and Communications Manager

The Marketing and Communications Manager is a key member of our team and will be responsible for driving all marketing and communications activity for Wilton’s including our cultural programme, learning and participation programme and our commercial offer, creating effective and creative marketing strategies across print, broadcast and new media. The Marketing and Communications Manager will work closely with all departments to engage new audiences in all aspects of our work and grow income across the board, taking the lead on ensuring that Wilton’s outward-facing message is strong and clear and that the brand is understood and consistent. 

This is a very exciting time to join Wilton’s in which the successful candidate will contribute to a period of high growth and change at one of the UK’s best-loved venues. We are looking for someone with a proven track-record of marketing and sales management in a similar organisation with a passion for the performing arts and a natural creative flair.

Applications can be sent by email or post but must arrive by 12.00 on Monday 12th December 2016. 
Please send applications to:
Email: b.ruffell@wiltons.org.uk
Post: Becky Ruffell, Wilton’s Music Hall, Graces Alley, London, E1 8JB

Download the job description and application form here (docx)
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13Oct. 2016.

The Memory Project

Piecing Together Our History

Pastor James Hanson (known to many as ‘Pop’) was in charge of the Mahogany Bar Mission from 1921 to 1937. Three years ago, his grandson, Chris Hanson, sent us images of photographs from his grandfather's time at the Mission, along with other items from his family collection. It was the picture of Pastor Hanson with children in Graces Alley that prompted Sylvie Richards (nee Georgiades) to write to us, showing once again that Wilton’s history is a story told by many voices. Every memory provides a glimpse of the past and together they bring the past to life. 

Photograph of Pastor James Hanson with children in Graces Alley, reproduced by kind permission of Chris Hanson.

Sylvie wrote ‘My daughter has just emailed me your site. I lived at No.7 Graces Alley prior to the Second World War with my grandparents Alec and Norah Ottolangui and their extended family. I have many happy memories both of life in the Alley, the Mahogany Bar, St Paul’s School and the children who lived and played in Wellclose Square.’ The picture was particularly poignant for Sylvie as it brought back memories of her late cousins, Mary McDonald, the child  third from the left and Mary's sister Shirley, holding Mary's hand. Sylvie thinks that the child on the tricycle in the second picture may have been herself 'I certainly had a little bike and those horrible ankle-strap shoes which I always hated.'

‘My Grandparents and their extended family lived at No. 7 Graces Alley and most of my childhood between the age of four and seven was spent there.  The Mahogany Bar as it was then known was a really important place in the life of myself and my cousins, who also lived at No. 7.  In fact three families lived there, all related, one on each floor.  It was an amazing and lovely childhood, although a bit crowded.  

The Mahogany Bar was a Mission in those days and most Sundays a slide projection show was held which was, of course, religion based and no doubt meant to influence the children attending. Prayers were also included. This would be followed by afternoon tea consisting of jam sandwiches, bread and butter, cakes and soft drinks.  We were also given little goody sweet bags.

My cousins and I were Jewish as were many of the other children but this didn’t stop us going there.  In spite of sometimes being terrified by the slides which included pictures of Jesus on the Cross and God depicted as an old man with white hair and angels and clouds around him, we were definitely not going to miss out on the tea and sweets!

The Mahogany Bar was also used as a social centre with Shows being produced for and by the local community and also what was probably the equivalent of Jumble sales.  To my young eyes, it was all hugely glamorous and a wonderful experience.

The area around Wellclose Square was mainly Jewish and Irish.  Doors were never closed or locked and everyone got on with their neighbours.  Children played together beautifully. The Square was our playground and the lamp-post at the bottom of the Alley (almost outside the Mahogany Bar) was our Maypole.  We used to tie long skipping ropes to the top of the post and swing round it. Wonderful!

St Paul’s School is still there and I attended for a short time before the war.  I last visited the area a few years ago, it has changed dramatically.  But it was great to see the Mahogany Bar re-emerge as the original Wilton’s Music Hall, thanks to all those dedicated people who restored this wonderful old building for a new generation.’

- Sylvie Richards

Do you have a memory or photo of Wilton’s from before 2004 or know someone who does? Maybe you were part of a film shoot or your family grew up in the area. We are collecting stories and would love to hear from you.

Email our Historian, Carole, on memories@wiltons.org.uk.

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15Sep. 2016.

Word of the Day from Floyd Collins


It may sound like an embarrassingly intrusive medical procedure but, no, it's what's happening today in our Floyd Collins rehearsal studio and it's something very special!

Sitzprobe is, in fact, the first coming together of full band and cast, in this case for a full run-through of Floyd Colllins The Musical. Glorious sounds have been wafting down the corridor past our offices today, seriously whetting our appetite to see this one-of-a-kind musical show - think down-home gig with a powerful story. Meanwhile, here are a few behind the scenes rehearsal pics for you to enjoy and a wonderful trailer to tell you more about Floyd's world.

Floyd Collins The Musical runs 22nd September to 15th October and bluegrass band, The Sand Cave Crickets, will be playing in the Cocktail Bar before every performance and during the interval. Click here to buy tickets.

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14Sep. 2016.

Jobs: Head of Development and Communications

The Head of Development and Communications is responsible for maximising the net financial contribution to the charity generated by: public funding; trusts, foundations and livery companies, high-net-worth individuals; friends and patrons; corporate sponsorship and local businesses; support-in-kind. This role will also oversee the marketing department and ensure that Wilton’s outward facing message is strong and clear, the brand is understood and that marketing is coordinated and consistent maximising ticket sales. Wilton’s is run by a small team and this is a key senior management role, expected to increase fundraising and sales targets, whilst also setting strategy and being accountable for long-term growth.

You will be an experienced fundraiser with an entrepreneurial, go-getting approach and a strong sense of ambition. In return, this senior leadership role gives you the opportunity to work at board level and make your mark during this period of high growth at one of the UK’s best-loved venues.

Deadline 18.00 on Friday 14th October 2016. 
Send applications to: 
Via email to - Becky Ruffell: b.ruffell@wiltons.org.uk 
Via post to - Becky Ruffell, Wilton’s Music Hall, Graces Alley, London, E1 8JB

Download the job description and application form here (docx)
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13Sep. 2016.

Peter Honri (1929-2016)

Wilton’s is saddened to hear of the passing of Peter Honri. Peter was one of Wilton’s chief campaigners who worked tirelessly to save Wilton’s Music Hall.

Born in 1929, Peter was a natural performer, and in 1951 formed jazz band the High Curley Stompers. An accomplished musician he inherited his grandfather’s talent on the concertina, above pictured with Mary Honri and Roy Hudd. He was the fourth generation of a line of renowned variety performers. His grandfather, Percy Honri, performed with his parents as the Royal Thompson Trio. When appearing in Paris a spelling error of Percy Henry birthed the name ‘Honri’ which stuck throughout his career. Peter’s father formally changed the family name, with Peter becoming the first to be born ‘Honri’.

Peter joined the fight for Wilton’s in 1972 and was part of the first Trust for the Restoration of Wilton’s. As a member of Equity and with his network of industry friends, Peter wrote tirelessly to the leading lights of variety entertainment to build support for the struggling Wilton’s. Along with Marius Goring he fought against the GLC’s granting Wilton’s lease to the Half Moon Theatre Company, believing this threatened to turn the populist music hall to an overtly political theatre. Their success raised plans for a National Centre for Variety Entertainment.

In 1978 Peter became the founder-director of the newly formed London Music Hall Protection Society; the group tasked with restoring Wilton’s and named after an 1860 organisation established by John Wilton himself to oppose a bill preventing music halls from any form of spoken performance.  As Artistic Director, Peter prepared ‘An Artistic Blueprint’ for Wilton’s. Based on a return to classic music hall format, proposed shows such as ‘Wilton’s Varieties’ aimed to discover and encourage new talent in variety performance.

The campaign launch took place at All Hallows by the Tower after the granting of the lease to Wilton’s for a peppercorn rent. In reference to the historic Knollys Rose Ceremony, a symbolic rent tradition dating back to 1381, Peter placed a rose on the altar cushion. That preserved flower is now held as a treasured item in the Wilton’s archive.

After a series of fundraising events work was finally commenced on the restoration of Wilton’s, with work replacing and restoring the hall roof begun in the early 1980s. Peter’s interest in the history of the hall, as well as his concern for the future of the building, lead to his research into the life of John Wilton and the acts who performed on the Wilton’s stage. He compiled his findings and imaginings of the era into his book ‘The Handsomest Room in Town’, written as a diary of Wilton’s founder.

Funding to continue building work could not be sustained and Wilton's remained derelict until the recent conservation and repair. Throughout the years Peter Honri remained an enthusiastic champion of Wilton’s. His belief that Wilton’s could be restored and become a viable and popular performance venue has borne out. Peter returned to see the completed Wilton’s and is seen here performing in the hall with Christopher Beeching as Champagne Charlie.

Passion and commitment like Peter’s, as much as stone and steel, has supported Wilton’s rescue and repair. Having been brought into a wreck of a building it was a proud moment that Peter was able to sign on the lease ‘return to original use’.
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7Sep. 2016.

Christmas is coming!

It may still be hot and steamy out there but the nights are drawing in, the leaves are beginning to fall and our thoughts are turning to... PANTO!

After an industrious week of costume fitting, we had a day of hectic fun yesterday with our official pantomime photo shoot.

We're thanking the Panto Fairy for blessing us with the same ace team who kitted out last year's cast - Tony Priestly and Paula Patterson. Having worked together, on and off, for around thirty years, our dynamic duo have dressed the great and the good on stages the length and breadth of the country. It's not unusual for Tony to be working on two or more pantos at any given time and, this year, we're in excellent company because he's doing Dick Whittington at the Birmingham Hippodrome and Cinderella at the Palladium, as well as our very own Mother Goose. Tony and Paula have done us proud again this year, we have the most wonderful cast and creative team we could have wished for and we're VERY EXCITED about it all, so here are a few of our lovely official photos plus some silly behind the scenes snaps for you to enjoy.

Amelia Rose Morgan as Jill and Ian Parkin as Squire Stingy

Roy Hudd as Mother Goose and Ian Jones as her son Willy

Gareth Davies as Vanity and Julia Sutton as Virtue

Priscilla the Goose as Herself

Paula weighs up a couple of things with Roy

You're 'avin' a larf ain't yer?

Virtue and Mother Goose swap beauty tips

Tony plumps up our Goose

Altogether now...

Mother Goose runs 2nd to 31st December. Hurry and buy your tickets here!

Official photography by Matt Crossick

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31Aug. 2016.

Floyd Collins: Cast Announced

We're getting ready to take a
journey to Floyd Collins' breathtaking Sand Cave in this all-new production of Adam Guettel and Tina Landau’s award-winning musical. Our exciting line up includes...

Floyd Collins
 will be played by Ashley Robinson
Ashley played Tyler in Maria Friedman’s Olivier Award-winning production of Merrily We Roll Along, both at the Menier Chocolate Factory and in the West End.  He created the role of Tybalt in The Last Goodbye (the Jeff Buckley/Romeo and Juliet musical), as well as the role of Jett Rink in the world premiere of Giant (Helen Hayes award nomination). His other theatre includes Wicked (original Chicago cast), Studs Terkel’s The Good War and the 40th Anniversary production of Hair.   Film and TV credits include Hate (with Marcia Gay Harden), Fallen Souls and The Accident.   

Nellie Collins 
will be played by Rebecca Trehearn
Rebecca was most recently seen as Julie La Verne in Daniel Evans’ critically acclaimed production of Show Boat in the West End.  Her other theatre credits include Aspects of Love at the Menier Chocolate Factory, Dogfight at the Southwark Playhouse and City of Angels at the Donmar Warehouse.  She has also appeared in We Will Rock YouDirty Dancing and Love Story (West End), the UK tour of Ghost and Alfie the Musical (Palace Theatre, Watford).   Rebecca’s television credits include Carla Hewson in Casualty (BBC) and Angharad in A470 (S4C).  Rebecca won The Wow Factor for S4C which led to the release of her self-titled solo CD.   

Lee Collins
 will be played by Jack Chissick 
Jack most recently appeared in the 2016 Olivier Award-winning production of Gypsy in the West End.  His previous theatre includes People at the National Theatre, She Loves Me at Chichester Theatre Festival, The Fairy Queen for Jonathan Kent in New York and Paris and Kiss Me Kate in the West End.   His television credits include Silent WitnessCanterbury Tales: The Pardoner's TaleFoyle’s WarJudge John Deed and Midsomer Murders.   Film credits include Les Misérables for Working Title/Tom Hooper, Ex Memoria and Somerstown for Shane Meadows.   

Miss Jane
 will be played by Sarah Ingram   
Sarah’s West End credits include Oklahoma!, South Pacific, Martin GuerreFlashdance, Imagine ThisMurderous Instincts and Napoleon.  Her other recent credits include Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd  at Twickenham Theatre, the European premiere Road Show at the Menier Chocolate Factory, the UK premiere of See What I Wanna See at Jermyn Street Theatre, Taboo at Brixton Clubhouse and Annie  at the West Yorkshire Playhouse.   

The rest of the cast will be announced soon.  

Read the full press release here (pdf).
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17Aug. 2016.

Britten in Brooklyn: Cast Announced

The countdown to Britten in Brooklyn has begun, rehearsals are in full swing and the chaise longue has arrived!

Joining the previously announced Sadie Frost will be Ruby Bentall (cousin Verity in Poldark) as writer Carson McCullers, David Burnett (Henry Foster in Brave New World) as the mysterious John Dunne, John Hollingworth (Design for Living at the Old Vic, Capt Henshawe in Poldark) as poet WH Auden and Ryan Sampson (Grumio in TV comedy Plebs, Charles ‘Boz’ Dickens in TV’s The Frankenstein Chronicles) as composer Britten. 

Directed by Oli Rose, Britten in Brooklyn will play for a strictly limited season of 21 performances from 31 August - 17 September.

Find out more and book tickets here: wiltons.org.uk/whatson
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