Stevenage Festival’s gala night is such a family affair as relatives of Gordon Craig and venue architect enjoy the show

Gordon Craig Story - The Mikado

Gordon Craig Story - The Mikado - Credit: Archant

There was a real family feel about Stevenage Festival’s Friday night presentation at the town’s Gordon Craig Theatre.

Ray Gorbing appeared in the first production at the Gordon Craig Theatre

Ray Gorbing appeared in the first production at the Gordon Craig Theatre - Credit: Archant

The Gordon Craig Story, putting the spotlight on the life of the theatrical pioneer who gave the theatre its name and also showcasing memorable moments from the venue’s four decades of history, was watched by three of the great man’s granddaughters.

Helen Craig, one of the trio in the audience for the Stevenage Arts Guild production, thoroughly enjoyed her first visit to the theatre and was full of praise for the venue and the show.

The first part of the evening was a play about the life of famous Victorian actress Ellen Terry, Craig’s mother.

Helen said: “I thought Ros Connelly’s take on Ellen Terry was really interesting. I really liked Helen Cartwright’s performance – I wish my father, who knew Ellen Terry, could have seen her, I think he would have approved!’

Gordon Craig Story - The Mikado

Gordon Craig Story - The Mikado - Credit: Archant


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After the interval nine members of the original lineup for the 1975 opening gala joined members of Just Sing! Community Choir, Stevenage Male Voice Choir and the Lytton Players to celebrate the theatre’s 40th anniversary year.

Steve Wilks recreated the role of the Mikado played in 1975 by the theatre’s architect Ray Gorbing, and even wore the original headdress from that production.

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Ray’s son Gordon, who was also in the audience, said afterwards: “We thoroughly enjoyed the evening and I know that dad would have been very chuffed at the whole event. It was a wonderful tribute to him.

“I was particularly struck by the two young performers –clearly there is a lot of future talent in Stevenage – and Steve Wilks was a very worthy heir to the part of the Mikado.”

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