The Lawrence Batley Theatre comes of age this autumn and is celebrating with a lavish 21st Birthday Gala that will bring together the past, present and future of the town’s number one performance venue.
Back in Huddersfield for the event, founding director Ron McAllister will be joined on stage by the current director Victoria Firth to introduce an evening of ballet, songs from shows, contemporary dance, Alan Bennett drama and much more.
Ron, a talented musician and composer, was at the helm of the theatre for its first seven years and is now chief executive of the South Hill Park Arts Centre in Berkshire.
Victoria says: “We have lined up an incredibly wide-ranging programme for the evening and all of the artists will be donating their performances as a gift, which means that all proceeds from ticket sales will go directly to the LBT’s 21st Birthday Fund. In helping us celebrate, our audience will also be ensuring that the theatre continues to flourish for the next 21 years and beyond.”
One of the highlights of the gala evening, on Friday, September 25, is a performance of the White Swan Pas de Deux by dancers from Birmingham Royal Ballet.
For the ballet company’s artistic director, David Bintley, it means a nostalgic return to his home town to introduce the dancers.
David, originally from Honley and a founding honorary patron of the LBT, has had an illustrious career in dance.
After training at the Royal Ballet School he made his name as a character dancer but also turned his talents towards choreography and spent a number of years with the Royal Ballet before returning to his roots in Birmingham.
For drama lovers Bolton Octagon is bringing a piece to the show from Alan Bennett’s classic Talking Heads, and Phoenix Dance Theatre, a regular at the LBT, is to perform Shift, a work by former Rambert Ballet dancer and choreographer Christopher Bruce that evokes life in the 1940s.
The entertainment really is varied, also including a selection of songs from Opera North’s forthcoming production of Kiss Me Kate, and magic by High Jinx, a locally-based but international act featuring illusion, escapology and circus skills.
There’s even a sneak preview of the LBT’s family Christmas show, Snow White, by resident company Tell Tale Hearts.
And recognising that Huddersfield’s many amateur companies played such a large part in the creation and development of the theatre, members of Huddersfield Musical Theatre Company and Longwood Amateur Operatic Society will be singing extracts from their forthcoming shows, Hairspray and Carousel, respectively.
Tickets for the extravaganza are £21 and can be booked from www.thelbt.org.uk or the box office on 01484 430528.
The LBT 21st Birthday Fund has three strands – supporting arts work with young people in the community, renewing the fabric of the theatre’s Grade II listed building, and maintaining quality programming at a time of funding cuts.