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Brand new 500 seater theatre to open to the public in Cassiobury Park

Watford Palace Theatre is about to reopen and has used the lockdown as an opportunity to build exciting new collaborations and fresh thinking, bringing the company back bigger and better than ever.

A brand new 500 seater venue appropriately-named ‘Stage in the Park’ will open to the public in the heart of award winning Cassiobury Park.

Co-producing with Watford Palace Theatre and Watford Borough Council are West End theatre makers and Watford residents Harlequin Theatricals. The venue will adopt a festival vibe with “inclusivity and diversity at its heart”, presenting a range of theatre, comedy and live music, as well as offering a fully licenced bar, food and stalls from local suppliers and creative businesses, from the 23 July to the 8 August 2021.

The broad programme will include a performance from the recently established Palace Young Company, and will appeal to all, with opportunities for the community and local creatives to engage. 

James Williams, Associate Director at Watford Palace Theatre says: “We’re looking forward to meeting new young creative voices and performers in the town –  contact us on takepart@watfordpalacetheatre.co.uk if you’d you like to get involved.”

Dan Clarkson of Harlequin Theatricals says “It is with great excitement that we are able to bring The Stage in The Park to Cassiobury this summer. Sharing this brand-new outdoor experience with the community means so much to us.

“I am delighted to be collaborating with both Watford Borough Council and the Watford Palace Theatre, presenting a dynamic season of diverse cultural entertainment from popular children’s shows to top comedy performances, from electrifying music to engaging community theatre, from emerging local artists to well known names.

“This is a chance for us all to safely come back together and enjoy the arts like never before right here on The Stage in the Park”.

Elected Mayor of Watford, Peter Taylor said “In Watford we are rightly proud of the range of wonderful cultural and entertainment events organised throughout the year. Despite the recent challenges, I am so pleased that we will be able to bring our town together in this way.

“Working with Watford Palace Theatre and Harlequin Theatricals, we are looking forward be showcasing some of the country’s top artists and performers, supporting local jobs and businesses and providing fantastic events for people of all ages. 

“Arts, entertainment and culture will play a vital part in rebuilding our confidence and enthusiasm for life and whilst Imagine Watford will not run as it normally does I know that many of us are really excited about these plans. We will transform Watford’s outdoor spaces into places of wonder and excitement, with dance, comedy and art in COVID-secure settings. I can’t wait to enjoy some fantastic performances across our town.”

For those who still prefer to enjoy their culture remotely, The Secret Garden Experience by WPT creative associate Wizard Presents and Romeo and Juliet by Creation Theatre offer the opportunity to enjoy these classic stories at home – with modern twists. Romeo and Juliet is presented digitally with audiences choosing their own adventure– with the option to change the fate of the lovers! The Secret Garden Experiencematches brilliant and engaging storytelling by Danyah Miller with beautiful music by WPT Creative Associate Arun Ghosh –alongside a limited edition eco-friendly box of activities to enjoy with friends and family; ideal for half term!

For those who are ready to return to the venue, Watford Palace Theatre is offering a series of socially distanced film screeningsof hit West End and Sadler’s Wells shows Kinky Boots, 42ndStreet and Matthew Bourne’s Romeo and Juliet.

Watford Palace Theatre continues its commitment to nurturing new theatrical talent and the local community by launching the Homegrown programme, supporting freelancers based in the Three Counties area in making new work during the pandemic, funded through the Culture Recovery Fund   During lockdown the company also set up a new Youth Advisory Board – a decision making group for 14-25 year olds, an age group facing particular challenges due to Covid,  working alongside the theatre’s Board and staff team to shape the future direction of the theatre.

Imagine Watford is REimagineD for 2021! Watford Palace Theatre have “REimagineD” itsr annual outdoor celebration to ensure it is COVID safe but still full of fun. It will be a little different from previous years, but  will once again transform Watford outdoor spaces into a place of wonder and excitement, with dance, comedy and art for all the family to enjoy for free this July. Watch this space for more announcements.

Artistic director Brigid Larmour said “We’re very happy to be back! –  outdoors, indoors and online, doing what we love best, with and for the community around us. We’re proud to be supporting local freelance and independent artists in our Homegrown programme, and thrilled to be working with our friends Chris and Dan, local independent producers, on The Stage in the Park, in the stunning surroundings of Cassiobury. Collaboration is in our DNA”

Watford Palace Theatre inspires and entertains through inventive, ambitious and inclusive drama, new plays, musicals, dance and family shows; free outdoor festivals; diverse stand-up; and a much-loved traditional pantomime.

It reflects its diverse communities, and fully represents women, both onstage and behind the scenes whilst celebrating and developing creativity and skill in the community and with young people. The theatre’s locally produced shows and home-grown talent have toured nationally and internationally, been seen on BBC iPlayer, won awards and transferred to the West End. 

Recent productions include Talking Heads; an all-female Gaslight; the UK’s first African-American Glass Menagerie; and Ayckbourn’s Absurd Person Singular.  World premieres include musicals Miss Meena & the Masala Queens and I Capture the Castle, and plays good dog by Arinze Kene, Poppy+George by Diane Samuels, Coming Up by Neil d’Souza, Jefferson’s Garden by Timberlake Wertenbaker, and Jumpers for Goalposts by Tom Wells, Creative Associates are central to WPT’s vision: they include Resident Partner Company Rifco Theatre Company, and tiata fahodzi.