Acclaimed West End producer Paul Taylor-Mills

Award-winning producer Paul Taylor-Mills takes the helm for the fourth time

Award-winning West End producer Paul Taylor-Mills will be raising the curtain on his hugely popular Summer Play Festival at Sidmouth’s Manor Pavilion Theatre on Thursday (June 23) with a three-month run of productions featuring works from iconic playwrights including Coward, Wilde and Ayckbourn.

Theatregoers are in for a real treat this year with an amazing programme of 12 plays in as many weeks, which include such classics as The Ladykillers, Pygmalion, One Man, Two Guv’nors and Private Lives.

The town is bucking a national trend as the Manor Pavilion Theatre – owned and managed by East Devon District Council - is the last theatre in the UK to offer a season of repertory productions that seamlessly change every week from June to September.

Paul takes the helm for the fourth year of his Summer season productions and it’s been a phenomenally successful twelve months for this young producer who is taking the theatre world by storm. In April, he collected a trio of Olivier Awards for his musical ‘In the Heights’ and earlier this year he was appointed as Andrew Lloyd Webber’s advisory producer, working with him on the programming of London’s St James Theatre.

Paul brings his expertise on an international level to the Sidmouth Play Festival and audiences can expect productions on a par with the West End.

He said:

I’m incredibly proud to be the producer of the last standing weekly play season in the country and I’m overwhelmed and touched by the support that we get from our audiences.

Without them we really wouldn’t be able to present such quality entertainment at one of the most special theatre’s in the country.

Years ago, many theatres across the country would have a weekly rep season, such as Sidmouth’s, as young actors would learn their trade by finishing one production and starting an entirely new one in quick succession.

The 277-seater Manor Pavilion Theatre will be a hive of activity for twelve weeks from opening night on June 23. As each play finishes, it’s all hands on deck as cast, crew, director and producer arrange the change-over for the next set, props and lights for the new production opening the following night. The tight schedule also means that the cast of around 30 actors go on stage for their evening performances and then rehearse and learn lines for the next play during the day time.

The 2016 season will feature:

Tickets for the Festival season went on sale last month and, according to Theatre Manager Graham Whitlock they’re “selling though the roof!”

Graham, who has managed the Manor Pavilion Theatre for more than ten years, said:

Some theatre goers have bought season tickets to see all 12 plays this year because they know that they are seeing the very best cast, sets and production standards, which normally they would have to travel to London for.

It’s wonderful to see the Manor Pavilion Theatre thriving and our ticket sales for all our productions have doubled over the last five years. This is down to the hard work of the staff and the conviction that East Devon District Council has by investing in this wonderful theatre at a time when most councils would cut back this area of work.

He added:

As we have seen such success at the theatre, we have been able to keep the ticket prices for this year’s Festival at the same cost as last year. Also for the first time in many years, we have frozen our hire fees for our local organisations as we value our regulars who support us.

Ticket prices start at just £14, with seats for under-16s costing £8. Group discounts are available along with great value full and half season tickets. To book, call the theatre Box Office on 01395 514413. For further information about productions at the theatre, visit the Manor Pavilion Theatre website.