A sensational autumn line-up for The Theatre on the Hill in Marlborough

Written by Tony Millett.

The Theatre on the Hill, at the heart of the new St John’s school on Granham Hill, is now in its second season and thriving. This Autumn and into 2012 the theatre is offering with a full and varied programme of events appealing to all manner of tastes.

Well-known names, including BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards double winners Show of Hands (pictured left), described by The Independent as “a class act”, and a touring West-End style show Let’s Do The Twist are certain to attract large audiences. But the top selling show this autumn will undoubtedly be the St John’s student production of Thoroughly Modern Millie.

The 350-seat theatre is growing in popularity among a diverse and eclectic range of theatre companies and performers from across the UK, as well as providing a venue for performances and events for local community groups.

In addition to school productions, the star turn of the autumn season will probably be Let’s Do the Twist on October 14. The show has been described as an “electrifying” showcase for music from the greatest musical stars of the 1950s and 60s Rock ‘n’ Roll era wrapped up in a Happy Days family-style feel. This hugely successful show has already been snapped up by impresario Bill Kenwright for a week at the Theatre Royal in Windsor.

Kate O’Connor, Events Organiser at St John’s, expects this to be a sell-out evening. “We are very lucky to have been able to get a date in Marlborough on their tour.  I’m sure it is going to be a fun filled, lively evening”

Other highlights of the season include Show of Hands on October 26, organised by Marlborough Folk Roots as part of a tour which culminates in a concert at the Royal Albert Hall in April next year. The phenomenally popular duo Steve Knightley and Phil Beer hail from rock backgrounds but today their engaging music dips and dives through roots, rock, blues, country and traditional genres to make an unmistakable signature sound played out on a wealth of instruments from slide guitar to mandocello, fiddle to South American cuatro.

Theatrical performances include the highly acclaimed Icarus Theatre Collective with their bold and exciting performance of Macbeth November 16 and Proteus Theatre Company’s Arabian Nights on January 27, a magical journey to the Far East in the company of Scheherazade.

Other musical events include the Celebration Band in aid of St John’s Ambulance defibrillator appeal.

Other regular events at the Theatre on the Hill include Marlborough Downs Movies screenings of Winnie the Pooh on September 9, Pirates of the Caribbean 4, on October 7, Kung Fu Panda 2 on November 11 and Mr Popper’s Penguins on January 13, and monthly Friday night ‘Open Mic’ evenings.

Since the St John’s building opened in December 2009 Headteacher Dr Patrick Hazlewood has been keen that the building becomes far more than just a school and that its range of facilities is used by everyone: “It is good to see the building so well used every evening and weekend, not only by the range of events in the theatre, but also by the many people taking part in sports activities, line dancing, ballet classes and adult education” explained Dr Hazlewood. “It is exciting for us to be able to bring such a wide range of events and shows to the area and to see the popularity of our theatre growing all the time”

Details of performances and how to buy tickets can be found on the “Theatre on the Hill” pages of the St John’s website www.stjohns.wilts.sch.uk