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Bennett Wishes Criterion Well, 40 Years On

A Coventry theatre will celebrate its fortieth anniversary today with a performance featuring two of the cast from the original show in 1961.

A specially-invited audience of former actors, directors and life members will see the gala performance of Forty Years On by Alan Bennett at the Criterion Theatre in Earlsdon.

Geoff Eames and Maureen Copping will be taking part in the play, 40 years after they were members of the original cast of The Italian Straw Hat.

People are travelling from all over the country for the reunion at the theatre in Berkley Road South.

Alan Bennett was invited to come and see the production, directed by Ann Woodward, but sent a message of support instead.

The theatre’s patron Coventry-born actor Sir Nigel Hawthorne, has also sent a message wishing everyone well. He was unable to come to the play because he is currently filming.

Dave Holmes, set designer for the current production, said the gala show was a celebration of the longevity of the amateur theatre.

He said:

”It was the first amateur theatre in Coventry to have its own theatre. That is one of the reason why it has been so successful over the years.”

Each year the theatre runs seven productions, making a total of 280 since it opened in the former Methodist chapel, with thousands of actors taking part.

The production runs until 17 February, except Sunday. Tickets can be reserved at the box office on 024 7667 5175 or on the 24-hour answerphone 024 7656 7412.
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CWN / ArtsCriterion Theatre / 9 Feb 01
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