Hever Festival is back with a Bond (girl)!

Olympian Louis Smith
OO-HEAVEN: Bond girl Madeline Smith will be at the festival

Hever Festival covers the range of performing arts and history, but there are certain core themes, Theatre Director Ailsa Molyneux told the Times.

“Working with the great expertise at Hever Castle is very important to us. We are holding the second in a trilogy of talks by Dr Owen Emerson, a world leader in the history of Hever Castle, alongside Kate McCaffrey and Lauren MacKay, both experts in their fields on Tudor and Boleyn history,” she said.

“Anne Boleyn by Howard Brenton is back by popular demand, along with the Three Inch Fools (who have just enjoyed a fabulous run at Trinity Theatre with The Miraculous Misadventures of Robin Hood) and festival favourites Illyria with Shakespeare in the Hever Castle gardens.”

 And there’s plenty more to see…

“Our fabulous core artists’ performances form the backbone of our season and we are proud to be working with them again,” said Ailsa.

However, she stressed: “It is also important that we encourage new events and new audiences to the festival each year.

“Working with us for the first time is comedian Joe Rooney, who kicks off our comedy programme with A Celebration of Father Ted.

“This is followed by award-winning (East Grinstead-based) Grinstock Comedy Club and Solve-Along-A- Murder-She-Wrote, with plenty of audience participation to enjoy.

“Double BAFTA-winning broadcaster, comedian and writer Jon Holmes is bringing us the biggest current news stories as we’ve never heard them before,” Ailsa continued, advising: “Search for The Skewer on BBC Sounds so you know what to expect from this ‘twisted comedy treat’.”

The musical tributes theme represents another multicoloured firework bouquet, with two proms celebrating the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee – First Night of the Hever Proms celebrates British composers (Saturday June 4), while the Brandenburg Sinfonia play the flag-waving classics on the Last Night of the Hever Proms (Sunday August 28).  

Other musical highlights include Q The Music, the Music of James Bond (Friday August 5) with Live and Let Die Bond Girl Madeline Smith introducing the iconic tunes.

Grammy-nominated artist Stacey Kent sings songs from her latest album Songs From Another Place (Saturday July 23), The 4 D’s will be singing hits from Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons, among others, while Sinatra, Sequins and Swing bring some Hollywood glamour with The Capitol Years (Saturday August 6).

Take That: Rule The World

Fabulous tribute performances will include two double bills – The Tina Turner and Aretha Franklin Stories (Saturday May 28), and Blurb and the Kaiser Thiefs (Thursday August 4). The Simon and Garfunkel Story returns to Hever on Sunday July 24, and the festival introduces Just Floyd (Thursday August 25), Take That: Rule The World (Friday August 26) and No Town Like Motown (Saturday August 27).

This year is also 500 years since Anne Boleyn’s first appearance at the English court, and where better than here to celebrate her life with First Knight’s production of the play Anne Boleyn by Howard Brenton, on for three nights (August 18-20)?

The Curator of Hever Castle’s current Anne Boleyn exhibition, Dr Owen Emerson, returns to the stage with Kate McCaffrey as they talk about the ill-fated queen’s formative years in Becoming Anne (Wednesday August 10).

Two more historical writers discuss their novels – Lauren Mackay with her book Among the Wolves of Court: The Untold Story of Thomas and George Boleyn in St Peter’s Church, Hever, where Anne’s father Thomas is buried (Saturday June 25); and Alison Weir will be back on stage again to talk about her latest novel Elizabeth of York, The Last White Rose and signing copies hot off the press (Sunday May 29).

Lucy Fleming and Simon Williams

There is more drama and romance with Edenbridge-based Another Way Theatre’s production of Jane Eyre (Wednesday June 1) and, for a one-off matinee performance, the touching and amusing letters between the actress Celia Johnson (Brief Encounter, This Happy Breed) and her husband, explorer Peter Fleming, are read by their daughter Lucy Fleming and her husband Simon Williams in Posting Letters To The Moon (Wednesday August 3).  An absolute gem!

Hever’s family programme has something for all ages throughout the holiday season and includes the Long Nose Puppets’ latest production The Hug (Friday July 22); Immersion Theatre’s Rapunzel (Wednesday July 27) and Horrible Histories’ Terrible Tudors (Wednesday Aug 24).

Ronnie Scott’s All Stars

Festival favourites Ronnie Scott’s All Stars return (Sunday August 21), along with Charles Court Opera’s Gilbert & Sullivan productions – Patience (Sunday June 5) and Mikado (Sunday Aug 29). Meanwhile Opera Brava bring two classics – Bizet’s Carmen (Saturday August 13) and Verdi’s La Traviata (Sunday August 14).



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