It may be more than a year late in re-opening, and is at least £11million over budget, but that hasn’t stopped the operators at the Fairfield Halls from continuing to pursue their pointless exercise of re-naming the Ashcroft Theatre.
Workmen were seen on Friday, deployed to remove the Festival of Britain-inspired, 1950s-style signage on the side of the building, a further step towards the needless re-branding exercise being carried out by the Halls’ new operators, BHLive.
The theatre space at the Fairfield Halls has been called the Ashcroft Theatre since the Halls were opened by the Queen Mother in 1962. The theatre takes its name from Croydon-born Dame Peggy Ashcroft, a star of post-war British drama and Oscar-winning big screen performer.
There will be no royal re-opening of the Fairfield Halls this year. As exclusively revealed by Inside Croydon, a date scheduled for June, when the Duke of Wessex was expected to attend, has been cancelled because of the delays in the over-running refurbishment works.
Originally due to have re-opened in 2018, the Fairfield Halls will now not stage their first performances since the £41million-plus refurbishment until September.
Despite overwhelming objections from Inside Croydon readers and from elected councillors, the new management at the Fairfield Halls have decided that they are to re-name the Arnhem Gallery as “The Croydon Wreck”, while for some reason best known to themselves, the Ashcroft Theatre is to become the “Ashcroft Playhouse”.
“It’s entirely pointless. It’s the sort of name you’d choose if you were being run by a second-rate marketing executive from a provincial conference organiser,” said one concerned theatrical source who performs and directs in the West End.
BHLive organise conferences in provincial Bournemouth.
Venue director Neil Chandler is a former entertainments officer on cruise ships.
“It does nothing to add any value to the venue or its history and reputation. It’s almost as if they are in some way ashamed of the Ashcroft Theatre’s heritage.”
And after having more than three years in the planning, what blockbuster production has BHLive managed to line up for the grand re-opening of the Ashcroft Theatre in September. Have they secured a top director and producer, perhaps complete with knights or dames of the West End stage and Hollywood A-listers?
Oh no. BHLive has decided to re-launch the venue by booking a local amdram company for a week’s run of The Producers.
The venue has set the ticket price at £21 each.
“That’s the thick-end of 50 quid for a pair for a night-out to see an amateur production,” said our theatrical type.
“Who’s going to pay that to see Barry from accounts playing Max Bialystock?”
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It is upsetting and disrespectful to many local residents to rename The Ashcroft Theatre. Dane Peggy was not just Croydon born but a very great actress whose career spanned more than 60 years through many different acting genres, She was also a much respected and honoured lady not just by the British but by foreign states, and a great and grand human being who did much charity work. If Croydon Council really want to rename a building, I suggest and it would not surprise me if they renamed their HQ building either “Jo Negrini House” or even “Tony Newman House”