Since it opened in 1939, the Babbacombe Theatre in Torquay has been responsible for discovering new talent. Probably the most notable is the late great Mr Entertainment himself, Sir Bruce Forsyth. He headlined in the Hedley Claxton’s ‘Gaytime’ shows in 1955/56. Other well-known names included David Nixon, Ted Rogers, Ray Allen, Norman Vaughan and Roy Hudd – yes that’s right they all started their careers on the stage at Babbacombe!
Whilst those gentlemen made their mark many years ago, its refreshing to note that appearing on the Babbacombe boards in more recent years, have been other amazing performers some of whom are now destined to become household names.
Colin Matthews has owned the Babbacombe Theatre in Torquay since 1986; from then until now he has devised and directed all the highly-acclaimed shows as well as successful seasons at the Royal Hippodrome Theatre, Eastbourne and the Pier Theatre in Bournemouth. Colin continues to seek out new and versatile performers for his productions which, together with his youth policy, have resulted in the discovery and development of young talent who have gone on to gain success not only in London’s West End but internationally in all aspects of the industry. Here are a few of those success stories.
This month, (May 2018) Keedie, who appeared in no less than seven productions at the celebrated venue made her West End debut in the new show, Triopera’s at the Peacock Theatre on London’s West End. Tory Hoare also announced her casting earlier in May. She will appear in Aladdin at the Prince Edward Theatre, London. Tory first joined the Babbacombe Theatre as a Babe, then progressed up through the ranks to become a senior dancer. She is now in rehearsals and will be making her West End debut this summer.
Whilst it may have been a few years ago 2001 to be exact, Alexandra Jay hit the front pages of the tabloids when she took over the lead role in My Fair Lady, when Martine McCutcheon, was taken ill. She too started her stage career at Babbacombe, before joining the cast of Cats. After her run in My Fair Lady, she went on to join the cast of the much-loved musical, Mama Mia. Not one but two of the venues previous cast members have been in Mama Mia, Stephanie Clift played the part of Lisa in 2014. Steph enjoyed some TV moments also in 2014 & 15 as she appeared in Broadchurch and Call the Midwife respectively. Whilst she was not the leading lady on those occasions, she was when she was cast as Audrey in the 2016 UK tour of Little Shop of Horrors. Roles in The Wedding Singer & Grease have been more recent for Stephanie. Stephanie was only 6, when she appeared at Babbacombe and she was in numerous shows over a period of 10 years!
Believe or not there’s more! Tricia Turner, as a young teen made an impact with her vocal ability in several shows, she has enjoyed West End roles in We Will Rock You and Carnaby Street, 2018 will see her star as part of the UK tour of, Dusty The New Musical.
We could go on and on as there are many more performers who have achieved so much within the industry. Who’d have thought when they first performed at the venue, they’d be embarking on careers that would take them worldwide. Even to Hollywood, Emrhys Cooper appeared in the hit TV show Vanity, numerous movies and now as a recognised film producer & director his latest movie, Trophy Boy was selected for this year’s Cannes Film Festival.
We wonder from the casts appearing currently in, Starshine & West End at the Movies- where are they destined for next? Just remember – you saw them at the Babbacombe Theatre first.