National premieres have come thick and fast in the six months since new firm HQ Theatres took over the running of the Churchill Theatre – and there’s lots more coming to Bromley in the theatre’s newly-announced season.

As well as a blockbuster pantomime starring Strictly Come Dancing judge Craig Revel Horwood, the Churchill’s new shows include the launch of a new huge tour of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s Evita and the high-octane Cirque Berserk and a major revival of Willy Russell’s Shirley Valentine.

Theatre director Chris Glover told us: “Our customers appreciate that and get excited by the fact that they see them here first. It brings a buzz to the theatre, there is always a great atmosphere among the staff and it makes it more exciting.”

Already this autumn, the Churchill has launched national tours of Pride and Prejudice, The Commitments and Keep Dancing. And it is a similar story in January, with another trio of high profile premieres: Evita, Cirque Berserk and Ben and Holly.

Chris said: “Then moving forward, we are really excited that we are launching this brand new revival of Shirley Valentine with Jodie Prenger.

“That is really exciting because it was obviously such a phenomenally successful film and it hasn’t had a major revival for a long time.”

Other big national premieres taking place in Bromley include a new tour of Footloose and new musical That’s Alright Mama, which is about the story of Sun Records – the home of Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison and Johnny Cash.

Chris said: “Rock and roll musicals traditionally do really well in Bromley, especially because local people love the fact they can see it first.”

The big premieres aren’t the only unmissable shows in the newly-announced season, either. Starting October 31, there’s the stage adaptation of The Shawshank Redemption starring Paul Nicholls while politcos will love Jonathan Maitland’s acclaimed Dead Sheep, from November 30 to December 3, which is about how Margaret Thatcher was brought down by one-time ally Geoffrey Howe. Spitting Image alumnus Steve Nallon plays the Iron Lady.

For children, an adaptation of the Roald Dahl story George’s Marvellous Medicine plays from November 8 to 12 and the theatre’s creative learning team has scheduled its first production in the studio theatre to complement the panto in the main auditorium. The Little White Bird (December 9 to 22) is an original story for children aged two and up inspired by Peter Pan author JM Barrie’s novel and is accompanied by craft workshops on December 10 and 17.

And all audiences are sure to love the new musical Wonderland (March 13 to 18), based on Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, starring Wicked’s leading lady Kerry Ellis and Coronation Street’s Wendi Peters.

Away from the stage, the Churchill has also been developing its kitchen. A British Tapas restaurant opened a few weeks ago and there are plans to launch a full restaurant service next year.

Chris said: “Our priorities here were to put us back as a launchpad for new shows, to introduce food and to diversify the programme here with dining events.

“We launched that a few weeks ago with a Come Die with Me murder mystery. The response was phenomenal.

“We had a great time, we had great feedback the next day and some of these dining events are sold out already for Christmas. They are really bringing a new energy to the building as well.”

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