The theatre's joint artistic directors are director Guy Retallack and his actress wife Rachel Tucker, who is currently in the Broadway company of The Last Ship and is best known for her stint as Elphaba in the West End's Wicked. The couple, who are local residents, had been looking for a venue to create a theatre for Penge, Crystal Palace and the surrounding area for some time. A chance meeting with Bridge House pub owner Scott Blenkhorn and manager Sinon Kelly soon led to a commitment to create a theatre above the popular local hostelry.
Cabaret nights, curated and programmed by Tucker, and comedy evenings, programmed by Laura Checkley, have already been enthusiastically received by locals.
In a press statement, Retallack commented, "I knew the moment I walked into Bridge House, that this was the 'home' we’d been looking for; as soon as we went upstairs the whole atmosphere of this Victorian function room was so incredibly theatrical!"
Tucker added, "I don’t think Guy and I could quite believe the original and beautiful space that was sitting waiting to happen. We are so excited about what this space has to offer the community of Penge and Crystal Palace. Not only is there no other professional theatre in or around the area, but we will be able to generate and create work and jobs for actors and directors in our part of south east London."
It's a Wonderful Life is described as a loving tribute to the golden era of radio that also captures the eternal comedy of Frank Capra’s iconic Hollywood feature film. It tells the story of a dreamer, the idealistic George Bailey from a small American town, Bedford Falls, just after the Great Depression of the 1930s. Standing alone on a bridge on Christmas Eve, George has decided with all his dreams of escape and adventure quashed by his love of family and civic duty, that everyone would be better off without him... or would they? It falls to a guardian angel, Clarence, to try and save him, showing him what the world could have been like without him and how after all it has been a wonderful life. The production will run in rep with a specially written panto, The Uglies Take Penge (running Dec. 12-21), a new take on the traditional panto dame. Annie and Fannie are heading to the Palace to meet their new sister Cinderella for the very first time - but en route they lose their way and end up in deepest, darkest south east London.
To book tickets, contact the box office on 0208 133 0311 or visit www.bhtheatre.co.uk.