The Dukes in Lancaster have announced their plans to celebrate the theatre’s 50th Anniversary over the Winter season.
Since opening the doors in 1971, The Dukes has been committed to placing arts and culture at the heart of the Lancashire and Lancaster City region. As Lancashire’s only producing theatre, over the years The Dukes has welcomed the likes of Dame Harriet Walter, Gloria Grahame, Andy Serkis and most recently, Sir Ian McKellen.
Beginning a year of celebration until Summer 2022, the 50-year-old theatre will debut two new productions: a new retelling of the infamous Buck Ruxton case, Belle & Mary (18-20 November), and this year’s annual in-the-round Christmas production, Beauty & the Beast (3-31 December).
The Dukes’ Chief Executive Karen O’Neill said of leading the theatre into its next 50 years, “It is so wonderful to be celebrating the Dukes 50th Birthday! This is a milestone year for the Dukes and we are so pleased to be sharing it with our team, volunteers, audiences, artists and community. The Dukes has been at the heart of Lancaster since 1971 as both a theatre and independent cinema and has achieved so much since then. We are so proud of the Dukes’ legacy and thank everyone who has been part of the journey so far. We are so excited for the future and we look forward to creating more memories, creative projects and continuing to be part of what makes Lancaster a great place to visit or call home. Thank you to our core funders Arts Council England and Lancaster City Council and to all our supporters, partners, funders, audiences and creative professionals. Here’s to the next 50 years!”
The festivities will also celebrate the theatre’s long-standing team members including Data & Audience Development Manager Karen Chandisingh and Technical Manager Brent Lees, who have both worked at the theatre for over 25 years, as well as The Dukes’ team of volunteers who have supported the venue for many years.
Karen Chandisingh said of the anniversary and time with the theatre, “I feel so lucky to have spent much of my working life with The Dukes. Over the past 30 years I’ve worked with the most amazing people and have been privileged to see some amazing theatre. I’m so happy to be celebrating my 50th along with The Dukes and I am very much looking forward to our next chapter.”
Marketing & Communications Manager Jay Walton said of The Dukes’ volunteers, “For many years our volunteers have supported The Dukes, welcoming our wonderful audiences and theatre companies. They mean a lot to us and we can’t thank them enough for their support. We are delighted to be celebrating our 50th Birthday with them as much as our beloved audiences.”
Belle & Mary
The Dukes, in association with Adam Z. Robinson, will bring the infamous Lancaster true-crime tale of Buck Ruxton to the stage in Belle & Mary. The Dukes-commissioned piece by Adam Z. Robinson, which will be performed as if a radio play, will turn the tables on the narrative with the production focusing on the perspectives of Ruxton’s victims Isabella “Belle” Ruxton and Mary Jane Rogerson.
When several wrapped bundles containing human remains are discovered in Moffat, Scotland in 1935 a landmark police investigation begins that will eventually lead back to two women in Lancaster and to the man who killed them. Based on the true story of the murders of Isabella “Belle” Ruxton and Mary Jane Rogerson. Still regarded as one of the most shocking crimes of the last century, this infamous case of jealousy, deception and tragedy also marked a pivotal moment in forensic detection.
The production, directed by Martha Simon, will run from 18-20 November with the show’s final performance welcoming an invited audience to celebrate and commemorate the venue’s 50th Birthday.
Beauty & the Beast
The Dukes will host bring Beauty & the Beast to The Round Theatre from 3-31 December as their in-the-round Christmas production for their 50th anniversary.
Beauty & the Beast will welcome back the creative team of Daniel Bye (writer & co-director) and Sarah Punshon (co-director), who previously collaborated on The Dukes’ highly acclaimed productions of Cinderella: A Fairytale and Sleeping Beauty. This brand-new production will provide a thoroughly festive adventure for all audiences; promising to be filled with magic, dancing and songs that everyone will love to sing along to.
Bella and her mother live alone in the countryside, scrimping and saving to make ends meet. But, not far from their farm, in the forest, there is a terrible secret waiting to be uncovered that has made the land barren.
Kidnapped by the fearsome Beast, Bella discovers that he might not be the mean-spirited creature that she has been told about – and that the curse he is under can be broken.
The theatre will also welcome touring productions to Lancashire over the upcoming months including Double Life: Guy in VR (13 November), The Little Prince (27 November) and Christmas Gothic (3-4 December).
Tickets for all productions are now on sale with tickets available at dukeslancaster.org or by calling the theatre’s box office at 01524 598500.