Two decades in the limelight at Doncaster theatre

Sheridan Smith, winner of the Best Drama Performance award at the 2015 National Television Awards at the O2 Arena, London. Photo credit should read: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire
Sheridan Smith, winner of the Best Drama Performance award at the 2015 National Television Awards at the O2 Arena, London. Photo credit should read: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire
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A Doncaster theatre which has helped launch the careers of some of TV’s best-known stars is celebrating 20 years in the limelight.

Doncaster Little Theatre will mark its 20th anniversary in March, having come from humble beginnings to become one of the town’s most popular entertainment venues.

The former tile factory, on King Street in the town centre, has hosted countless plays, productions, bands and dozens of other acts and attractions and has also seen the likes of television actress Sheridan Smith and Downton Abbey star Thomas Howes tread the boards.

Amy Bidmead, who has been with the venue for 14 years, says she is proud of how far the theatre has come and is looking forward to seeing it move forward in the years ahead.

She said: “There have been a lot of changes, but we are still here and looking forward to taking the Little Theatre onto another part of its history.”

The venue has its origins as far back as the 1930s when a group of local theatre enthusiasts formed the Doncaster Literary Society.

The Lit, as it became to be known, staged productions at the Civic Theatre, now demolished.

However, in the early 1990s, group members decided that they needed their own venue.

Amy said: “They looked around and found an old tile factory in Doncaster town centre.

“It was very rundown, but ideal for what they wanted.”

And, after a year of hard work to transform the brick building into an intimate 99-seat theatre, Doncaster Little Theatre opened for the first time in March 1995.

Since then, it has welcomed more than 140,000 people through the doors.

To celebrate the milestone, the theatre – which boasts more than 100 members and helpers who are involved in everything from acting to production, behind the scenes work and even manning the bar – will be staging a production of TV sitcom classic The Last of The Summer Wine with a 20th anniversary party on Friday, March 13.

Organisers are looking for anyone with memories and photographs to get in touch to help create a display marking the annivesary which will go on show in the foyer on a specially created ‘memory wall.’

n Anyone with old pictures, stories or season guides connected to the theatre is asked to email publicity@doncasterlittletheatre.co.uk or comment on the theatre’s Facebook page.