Just a stone’s throw from London and set amidst rolling lavender fields, the Lavender Theatre will open for its inaugural summer season this July in Epsom.
The 250-seat open air theatre will be home for an annual season of plays and musicals with a truly elegant backdrop. Based at Mayfield Lavender in Surrey, the theatre has been co-founded by director Joe McNeice (producer/director of ‘DIVA: Live From Hell!)’ and Mayfield owner Brendan Maye.
The inaugural season will open with Irving Berlin’s classic musical Annie Get Your Gun from July 17, with new direction and choreography by Simon Hardwick (‘My Fair Lady’).
The launch of the theatre will see the completion of a £2m+ investment into the Epsom site, which already boasts a coffee bar, shop, and a full service glasshouse restaurant due to open alongside the theatre this summer.
“This will be more than just a visit to a theatre,” Joe McNeice said today, “Audiences will be able dine in our glass house restaurant underneath Mediterranean citrus trees, or grab a picnic to enjoy among the blossoming rows of lavender as the sun begins to set, before taking their seats in our covered auditorium to watch a show under the stars. We think it’s going to be a truly special experience.”
Since opening in 2006, the Mayfield Lavender Farm in Banstead has grown into a major summer
destination for tourists and locals in South London, and this year the team are opening the gates to a theatre at their sister location in Epsom.
Lavender Theatre Artistic Director Joe McNeice worked behind the scenes at London’s ‘Immersive Great Gatsby’, and was Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre’s Visitor Services Manager until 2022, after graduating from the University of York in 2018.
“The whole place looks incredible, just walking about the site is a real treat for all the senses,” McNeice added, “so our shows have to compliment their surroundings and match the sophistication that the natural landscape has set for us.”
Speaking of his plans for Annie Get Your Gun, Simon Hardwick said: “The show will be a rip-roaring staging of the well known Broadway musical in a very raw and kinetic production that evokes the energy of Buffalo Bill’s original touring celebrations of the Wild West. The Lavender Theatre will be a dream destination; an environment in which to enjoy a West End-standard production under a hazy summer sky.”
The theatre, privately funded and managed by Lavender Productions Ltd., will produce its own shows with plans to see the summer season expand year on year with diverse and engaging programming.
McNeice said: “With no public funding or grants to help us achieve this mammoth project, we are relying solely on our Box Office income to build the Lavender Theatre into a profitable business, but we believe that creating a new producing theatre, a proper landmark location for the arts in Surrey, is something worth the investment, for both the local community and the wider industry.
“I’m really passionate about developing new shows, particularly musicals. The location is perfect because it’s actually very close to London, but far enough away to have its own identity, which will give us the opportunity to develop work without the vast expense and pressure that comes with opening new shows in the capital. It’s an incredibly exciting opportunity. There’s a lot to be said for Zone 6!”
Tickets for the inaugural season are on sale today at lavendertheatre.com.
Casting for Annie Get Your Gun and news of other events in the inaugural Lavender Theatre season will be announced soon.