Fairfield Halls in Croydon- one of the biggest arts centres in the UK, the largest in South London, and the largest multi-disciplinary arts and entertainment space in South London and the South East – will be offering an exciting new season of shows and events in the first half of 2020, including an eclectic mix of theatre, music, comedy and family entertainment. Croydon has just been named the London Borough of Culture 2023, and the venue will work closely with the council in producing a varied programme that inspires and includes local communities that shows ‘This is Croydon’.

Imagine Theatre, producers of last year’s ground-breaking Cinderella are also returning at Christmas with the classic fairy tale, Beauty & The Beast – another spectacular family friendly production in the Phoenix Concert Hall (NB tickets will go on sale to Fairfield Members and Subscribers on Friday 14 February, with general on sale on Monday 24 February.)

Following a multi-million-pound redevelopment, Fairfield Halls formally re-opened in September 2019, and sits at the heart of Croydon’s new cultural and education quarter. Venues at Fairfield Halls include the 809-seat Ashcroft Playhouse that has recently had new seats installed throughout, the world-class 1,802-seat Phoenix Concert Hall, the Arnhem Foyer – an aspirational community hub with a free programme of events and exhibitions –  The Recreational (750-capacity standing live music venue), the Savvy Studio and the Talawa Studio – housing the venue’s resident companies. The John Whitgift Community Cube – the new glass-fronted space at the front of the venue that will play host to a series of community events and activities, opened in November, and the new Terrace Bistro is also now open for pre-show dinner.

Venue and Artistic Director for Fairfield Halls, Neil Chandler said, “With this week’s announcement that Croydon has been named London Borough of Culture for 2023, I’m extremely proud of what the reopening of Fairfield Halls has done for Croydon so far; with an array of local, national and international talent entering our doors and entertaining guests throughout the day and into the evening. We will build on this success during 2020, with newly refurbished seating in the Ashcroft Playhouse, and the opening of our Live Cinema Screenings with Gene Kelly: The Legacy with Patricia Ward Kelly, launching the occasion in February. In addition, I’m delighted to have Imagine Theatre producing another fantastic pantomime in the Concert Hall which will draw in families young and old wanting to see Beauty and The Beast”.

The team has designed its pricing from the ground up to reward loyal customers and early bookers, giving them access to the best seats at the best prices. The Fairfield Season Saver offers customers who have booked 3 or more included shows 15% off the best seats; Fairfield 15 offers early bookers great seats for just £15; and for regular visitors becoming a Fairfield Member for just £45 per year unlocks further savings on tickets and drinks, plus exclusive invitations and priority access to events.

Highlights of the theatre programme in the Ashcroft Playhouse include:

New Jersey Nights – a spectacular celebration of the music of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons

The Croft – Following last season’s The Night Watch at the Ashcroft, The Original Theatre Company return to Fairfield Halls with the world premiere of a new thriller starring Gwen Taylor,

Revenge – Louise Jameson directs a brand-new production of Robin Hawdon’s psychological thriller

Absurd Person Singular – London Classic Theatre’s 20th anniversary year production of Alan Ayckbourn’s comic masterpiece of social climbing in 1970s suburbia.

Bang Bang! – world premiere of adaptation of a classic Feydeau farce written by John Cleese, starring Tessa Peake-Jones, Tony Gardner and Wendi Peters – a delicious blend of French Farce and Fawlty Towers.

Habit of Art – The critically acclaimed and celebrated production of the masterly Bennett comedy coming to Fairfield Halls following a hugely successful UK tour. Starring Matthew Kelly, David Yelland and Veronica Roberts.

The Cat and The Canary – Building on the phenomenal decade-long success of The Agatha Christie Theatre Company, The Classic Thriller Theatre Company presents their fifth production, with an adaptation of this famous stage thriller which went on to spawn three hit movie versions.

Comedy highlights include appearances from: Croydon’s own Mark Steel and Romesh Ranganathan, as well as Josh Widdicombe, Fascinating Aida, , Jimmy Carr: Terribly Funny, Simon Cowell’s Britain’s Got Talent golden buzzer act – Kojo Anim: The Taxi Tour, plus the launch of the Laughing Boy Comedy Club in the John Whitgift Community Cube.

Family entertainment highlights include: Zog, In the Night Garden and Cirque Enfant as well as the weekly community family get together Donkey Dots with the Musical Balloon Band.

Music and tribute events include You Win Again – Celebrating the Music of the Bee Gees, Boyzlife, I’m Still Standing – the Music of Elton John, The Cavern Beatles, Jools Holland and His Rhythm and Blues Orchestra, What’s Love Got to do with it – A tribute to Tina Turner, and Club Soda

Dance highlights include Anton & Erin – Dance Those Magical Feet, Shakuntala, Silk Road and Peace and Harmony – an exciting cross-cultural collaboration between a quartet from Fairfield Halls’ resident orchestra, the London Mozart Players and a collective of Indian musicians and dancers.

Highlights in new space The Recreational (the 750-capacity space being used for live gigs, conferences and private hire events) include: All Star Wrestling, Frank Turner, the VIP Record Fair and the So Last Century Vintage & Retro Fair

The London Mozart Players (LMP) – the UK’s longest established chamber orchestra continue their residency at Fairfield Halls with a series of lunchtime concerts and an appearance by classical guitarist Craig Ogden in the Phoenix Concert Hall in April.

Julia Desbruslais from LMP said, “we have had a thrilling start to the opening season, beginning with the opening gala concert, that jointly celebrated the LMP’s 70th birthday, 30 years as the resident orchestra at Fairfield and the reopening of the beautifully restored Phoenix Concert Hall with its legendary acoustic. The programmes for our whole season at Fairfield reach out to young and old alike, offering something for everyone. LMP looks forward to continuing to bring in a new audience for classical music, celebrating world-class music making with high profile stars at this amazing venue, the cultural centre for South London.”

Other classical music season highlights include performances from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Kensington Symphony Orchestra, the Croydon Symphony Orchestra, the Croydon Symphonic Band, the Croydon Philharmonic Choir, and a concert for St George’s Day from the Band of the Coldstream Guards.

Fairfield Halls has two resident companies on site: Talawa, the UK’s primary Black led touring theatre company, and the award-winning and inclusive Savvy Theatre Company.

Savvy Theatre Company continue to deliver weekly classes and performances from Fairfield Halls. Savvy, which has been creating unique and accessible theatre experiences in Croydon and the surrounding area for more than ten years, is also supporting the venue’s operator, BH Live, in promoting access for all and its community arts programme. Sheree Vickers, Savvy’s Artistic Director, said, “it’s been a whirlwind four months since we moved in, with our established groups moving in, new groups starting, official launch events, technical installations, new partnerships and our inaugural show with an inclusive community cast of over 60 actors! We are now, as the new year starts, preparing for our annual summer season, which this year (without giving too much away), is based on the Grimms Fairytales, and will involve a bespoke installation in the SAVVY Studio. We also have our brand new inclusive YounGrrr Company for 8 – 11 years, taking place every Saturday morning. We are absolutely loving our little corner of Fairfield Halls. and can’t wait to introduce even more people to our new studio home.”

Talawa – the UK’s primary Black led touring theatre company, has taken up residence in a 200-seat studio and offices at Fairfield Halls. This will be the first time since 1995 that their headquarters will feature an on-site performance space. Fairfield Halls provides a home for Black theatre artists, enabling them to make outstanding work which will truly diversify and shape the cultural life of the whole country. The new residency will also create opportunities to train young Black artists in technical and creative theatre disciplines, suited to Croydon’s status as the London borough with the largest youth population, and working in partnership with organisations in the borough and nationally. Talawa will open the Talawa Studio at Fairfield Halls with RUN IT BACK, playing from 26 March – 4 April 2020.

About Author /

Kath is an actor, singer and writer with a passion for theatre. She has been reviewing for At The Theatre since 2014. Kath has a Masters in Performance at Liverpool Hope University and is Creative Engagement Worker for B arts, a participatory arts organisation.

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