Saturday 18th May saw the 25th birthday of Next Stage Theatre Company. After a last night of Here We Go Again - our Silver Anniversary show commemorating some of the best of the company’s past productions - the celebrations culminated with a wonderful 25th Birthday party in The Mission Theatre’s Main Auditorium. With over 100 invited guests, including Next Stagers and Friends old and new, The Mission was buzzing with excitement. Popular extracts from, amongst others: Peter Shaffer’s Royal Hunt of The Sun and Dennis Potter’s Blue Remembered Hills concluded with an extract from Willy Russel’s Educating Rita, Next Stage’s first ever production, performed by the original actors, Sian Swift and Adrian Philpott, as they had done on the opening night almost to the minute, 25 years previously.
Following the show The Right Worshipful The Mayor of Bath Patrick Anketell-Jones, Andrew Brownsword CBE DL, and Lord Don Foster of Bath all made speeches in which they paid tribute to the work and success of Next Stage Theatre Company and its founders Ann and Andrew Ellison.
Following the speeches (the last of which by Don Foster was based on the notion that Ann Ellison should be our next Prime Minister!) Ann, herself took to the stage. She thanked family, Friends and Patrons for their help and support over the years and then went on to thank the company for all the talent and hardwork that have helped to give Next Stage its enviable reputation. To commemorate its 25th Birthday, Ann surprised the company by presenting a new award: Tina’s Trophy for Excellence In Theatre, to be awarded annually, on or around May 18th, to a Next Stager who has excelled onstage or offstage or both. The first recipient of this award was Brian Howe who has been a member of the company since its formation in 1994, has been involved in countless productions, has provided invaluable support to Ann and Andrew and is still a positive force within Next Stage. Most recently, Brian compiled Next Stage’s 25th Anniversary book, which has been much enjoyed and admired by all. The book is still available for sale at £15 and provides a trip down memory lane with nearly 150 of the company’s main productions featuring in it with full-colour photos and contributions from many actors. Call 01225 428600 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
To finish off the lovely evening there was a party with canapés, cake and plenty of prosecco. At 10pm Andrew Ellison, the Company’s Director, proposed a toast and everyone sang Happy Birthday before the cutting of the Birthday cakes. Thank you to everyone involved in a great evening of entertainment, fun and friendship - the hallmarks of Next Stage Theatre Company.
During the company’s birthday week audiences, visitors, Next Stagers and guests were invited to write a birthday message in a commemorative book. Thank you to everyone who has already provided a comment and If you have not yet had an opportunity to sign the book why not call into the theatre to do so, or email your message and we will print and stick it in the book for you.