A look back at The Courtyard’s sparkling 25th Anniversary showcase!
Full of silver, sparkles, and enough talent to fill The Courtyard ten times over, we had a fantastic evening celebrating our 25th Anniversary last Saturday!
On Saturday 23 September, we hosted The Courtyard’s sparkling 25th Anniversary showcase. We welcomed guests and VIPs, who enjoyed prosecco on arrival, a series of delicious small plates, an amazing showcase of local talent, and a glittering after party featuring The Hey Yahs!
Here’s how the evening went, and a chance for you to meet the stars of the show!
Guests enjoyed a series of small plates and nibbles before the show, which included dishes such as soy marinated egg with sesame & spring onion, Jan’s famous fish pie croquettes, cheddar & truffle fondue, and grilled flat iron steak with café du paris butter & crispy kale.
The stars of the show!
We had such an array of talent performing on Saturday, each and every group an important part of who The Courtyard is today, and who have helped make the last 25 years incredibly special!
West End Stars
We were thrilled to have three West End stars perform a variety of numbers for us on stage! We were joined by Wicked’s own Nessarose, Maggie Lynne (who trained at Mountview and has had roles such as Sandy in Grease and Beauty in Beauty & The Beast), The Third Man’s Featured Ensemble, Sam Thomas (who trained at Guildford School of Acting and who has had roles such as understudy Glinda in Wicked and Featured Ensemble in Follies), and The Greatest Show’s PT Barnum, Michael Jenkins (other credits include Peter Pan, Jamie Wellerstein in The Last Five Years and a worldwide campaign for Strongbow & Heineken!) alongside X-Entricity’s very own Steve Liddle!
Courtyard Youth Theatre
The Courtyard has a thriving Youth Theatre of nearly 300 members which is based at The Courtyard and our community venues The Phoenix Theatre in Ross-On-Wye, The Conquest in Bromyard and The Market Theatre in Ledbury. Our Youth Theatre provides an inclusive and accessible environment that inspires young people to learn, develop and create. We strive to achieve high quality performance whilst celebrating the worth of our members.
Over the last 25 years we have seen 1000s of Youth Theatre members take to the stage in our Main House productions and Studio shows, which have starred members as young as 4 years old and all the way up to 24! We are really proud of our Youth Theatre, and something we take great pride in is the impact it has on the young people that participate. We love hearing what some of our Youth Theatre members have gone on to do…from West End stars to Paramedics, Police Officers and Doctors. We even have Jamie, an ex-Youth Theatre member, now back working as a practitioner!
Hereford Musical Theatre Company
Hereford Musical Theatre Company (HMTC) were founded in 1898 as Hereford Amateur Operatic Society. They stage musicals here at The Courtyard every year, to standing ovations and high praise!
Hereford Academy of Dance
Hereford Academy of Dance has been under the spotlights on the Courtyard stage since the curtain first went up 25 years ago.
Together they have grown and developed over the years with Hereford Academy of Dance’s productions becoming bigger and more ambitious. They have performed too many shows here to mention them all but some of they include “Live The Dream” 2004, “Mythical Moves” 2012 and “Close Your Eyes And Leap” 2014. All their shows are original concepts created by Principal, Sarah-Jane Mathews, specifically to inspire the dancers and audiences to be the best version of themselves. In the days before booking online the cue outside the Courtyard for HAOD’s tickets even made the Hereford Times with people camping overnight to be at the front of the line!
The most challenging but emotional performance which they have staged here was immediately after the Courtyard reopened after the pandemic. The entire performance, in the auditorium and onstage, was socially distanced. Even the movement of the cast backstage was choreographed so that all the obstacles presented by ‘bubbling‘ could be overcome just so that the students could get back on that stage! The casts for their sell out performances are so big that they seem to take over every room and HAOD are so grateful for how accommodating and welcoming the amazing staff at the Courtyard are!
Courtyard Pantomime favourite since 2011, Madi MacMahon is also making it big on the comedy circuit. Madi is a Max Turner Prize ’21 winner, BBC Three New Comedy regionalist ’21 and Funny Women semi-finalist & ‘one to watch.’
The Secret Garden
This Pro-Am production has an exciting mix of Professional, Community and Youth Theatre cast. Be taken on an enchanted journey by this delightful tale that has charmed hearts for generations. In this coming-of-age story, follow Mary as she discovers a glorious garden filled with wonders, where all secrets eventually unlock the mysteries of a newfound hope. Watch as she takes on life’s biggest questions, including what it means to forgive, learn to accept one another and ultimately what it takes to find the courage within us to follow our dreams.
Ludwig Theatre Arts
Ludwig Theatre Arts, who now have a residency here at The Courtyard, were thrilled to be part of the 25th Anniversary celebrations at The Courtyard, a place that has become a huge part of the LTA community. Having formed in 2017 across the shires offering classes, workshops, productions and theatrical opportunities it was really in April 2022 that Ludwig Theatre Arts and The Courtyard started a magical collaboration with Disney’s Aladdin JR.
Since then it has been a rollercoaster of Musical Theatre productions for the youth of Herefordshire and beyond with now over 5000 audience members seeing the much loved productions. The collaboration initially started with Ian Archer, Chief Executive of The Courtyard after Jack officially moved to Hereford and asked to meet for a coffee, little did he know what a creative adventure it would be! Aladdin JR, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang JR and Matilda JR (which was a smash hit record of the collaboration), all in the last 18 months!
To date Jack has recently performed on The Courtyard stage in Phantom of the Opera with X-Entricity Theatre and LTA have just taken up a very exciting residency here at The Courtyard. Jack said ‘We are so happy and over the moon with our new office space and the opportunities a residency will bring for our growing theatre company! Thank you to all the team for making the possible.’ It sure is looking busy for Ludwig Theatre Arts over the next academic year with some AMAZING Musical titles on the way which will be on the main stage!
Gilbert & Sullivan Society
Performing a large scale Gilbert and Sullivan operetta every year, Hereford G&S Society creates incredible theatrical experiences for all. The society rehearses at Hereford Cathedral Music School, and performs at the Courtyard Theatre. Directed by Alan Durman, and musically directed by Hannah Bowman, the society lives and breathes opera.
Laura Gale Dance & Drama
Laura Gale Dance & Drama has very much been part of the Courtyard for over a decade now. But her connection with the Courtyard starts much further back than that – when Laura moved to Hereford in 2003, the first thing she did was to drop her acting cv into the box office which led to professional roles in Anne Frank & The Kicking District both directed by our fabulous award winning director Estelle van Warmelo. Since that point her relationship and involvement with The Courtyard has continued to grow.
Fast forward to today where Laura and her team of professionals have a thriving performing arts school based here. They deliver weekly sessions in Contemporary Dance, Commercial Dance, Authentic Street Dance, Musical Theatre, LAMDA for students aged 4 years through to their adult students. They stage two musical theatre productions and a whole school dance showcase in the main theatre each year – and we’re very excited about the yearly addition of the LGD mini musicals Kid Broadway show in our studio theatre.
Laura says “What an honour for us to have been part of the 25th year celebrations. The Courtyard is a tremendously special place – crucial to Hereford and our community. I am thrilled to be a part of a team who have a joint passion and a vision for protecting, developing and celebrating this incredible centre of the arts.”
Hereford Amateur Pantomime Society
Hereford Amateur Pantomime Society (HAPS), founded in 1982, is absolutely thrilled to join in the celebration of The Courtyard’s 25th Anniversary. We have been performing our annual February half term show at The Courtyard since they first opened their doors. It has always been our mission to raise money for the local charities in Hereford. Our collaboration with The Courtyard has given the opportunities and support to us, having already raised over £30,000, and allowed us to bring all of our fun to the community. Here’s to many more years of laughter and enchantment at The Courtyard!
X-Entricity have been privileged to perform at The Courtyard since bringing our 2014 production of Les Misérables. Since then, we have been fortunate to have performed over ten full scale musicals and five concerts. Performing at The Courtyard is like performing in your front room in your slippers with the fire on! It feels like a home to us, the team are all so inviting and feel like family. We are dedicated as a company to offering our cast an experience that they are likely to get if they were to work in professional theatre, so performing at The Courtyard absolutely delivers that for them. We are so blessed to have The Courtyard in Herefordshire.
The Courtyard was 2Faced Dance‘s home for 20 years. It was the place that helped shape our future as a company. A playground in which to explore ideas, our voice and our dreams. The moments of collectiveness are the ones that we treasure the most as a company. Huge breakdance jams at the end of the show in the bar, the DJ spinning some brilliant tunes and graffiti lessons happening under the tree. Awesome energy, vibes and togetherness. It is crucial that young people have a place in which they have the freedom to express themselves. That they have access to performances by professional artists, to be inspired, challenged and entertained. Our youth company really enjoyed performing as part of The Courtyard’s 25th Anniversary.
And then we danced the night away…
The rest of the evening was filled with dancing and music from the fabulous Hey Yahs. Thank you so much to everyone who came and dined, partied, and joined the celebrations on Saturday night. Our audiences and supporters have been so important to The Courtyard over the last 25 years and we look forward to continuing the journey together 💜