Kentish Express Ashford & District - What's On

Stage shows under the stars

It won’t be long until we’re all enjoying those long, warm summer evenings, and how better to spend them than by watching some fantastic outdoor theatre?


From classic works by Shakespear­e and Jane Austen to family favourites like Peter Pan and the Wonderful Wizard of Oz, lots of talented troupes are bringing their open-air adaptation­s to stunning Kent venues this summer…

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST Chapterhou­se Theatre

Giving this winter tale a summer twist, Chapterhou­se is taking on a classic with Beauty and the Beast. The fairytale is being given an original soundtrack and an extra zing of humour, but the unexpected love story between bookworm Belle and the hot-headed Beast is still the same - it’s a tale as old as time, after all. Where? Walmer Castle; Belmont House, Faversham


This cycling Shakespear­ean troupe are known for their unique style of showmanshi­p. The quirky group of actors carry their props, costumes and sets from venue to venue on the back of their bikes before setting up for each show. The company like to focus on bringing sustainabl­e open-air theatre to audiences all over the country using the most eco-friendly travel methods and recycled materials. This year, the production of choice is the farcical and hilarious Comedy of Errors. Where? Riverhill Himalayan Gardens, Sevenoaks; Medway Yacht Club, Rochester; Emmetts Garden in Ide Hill, near Sevenoaks


Using puppets and live music, this whimsical reimaginin­g of Edith Nesbit’s children’s novel is sure to delight young theatre-goers. When five siblings move from London to the Kent countrysid­e and begin exploring their new home, they discover a mysterious fairy who can grant wishes and soon find themselves going on an unexpected adventure.

Where? Emmetts Garden, Ide Hill; Goodneston­e Park, near Canterbury; St Mary's Church, Higham, near Strood


Based on the novel by Charles Dickens, much of which was written at the author’s country home - Gads Hill in Higham - this thrilling adaptation brings the Medway-born novelist’s words to life. Although having a modern twist, this show features some of the most well-known characters from Victorian literature including Pip, Estella and Miss Havisham.

Where? Tonbridge Castle; Scotney Castle


The Lord Chamberlai­n’s Men

To celebrate their 20th year, the actors of theatre company the Lord Chamberlai­n’s Men are bringing out the big guns. Hamlet, arguably one of the Bard’s most famous plays, is being performed as it would have been back in the Elizabetha­n era, with an allmale cast, traditiona­l music and in the open air.

Where? Emmetts Garden in Ide Hill, near Sevenoaks

HENRY V Changeling Theatre

Kent-based touring theatre company Changeling are known for their stellar outdoor performanc­es that take place in and around the county each summer. This year, the talented group of local performers will take to the road once again with two production­s, the first of which is Shakespear­e’s Henry V. Based on the events of the Hundred Years’ War, the historic play documents the invasion of France by the English king.

Where: Boughton Monchelsea Place; Calverley Grounds, Tunbridge Wells; Royal Albion Hotel, Broadstair­s; Walmer Castle; Old School, New Romney; Belmont House, Faversham; Margate Beach; Great Comp Garden, near Borough Green; Tithe Barn, Lenham; Dartford Central Park; Nurstead Court,

Meopham; Rochester Castle; Scotney Castle, Lamberhurs­t; Folkestone Amphitheat­re; Nine Oaks Vineyard, near Ashford


This lovable tale has been delighting families since Beatrix Potter first published the story in 1908. More than 100 years later, new generation­s are being introduced to Jemimia as she waddles the countrysid­e looking for the perfect place to lay her eggs. When she almost falls prey to a man with dinner plates for eyes, it’s up to her new friend, Kip the farm dog, to save her. This retelling boasts a score by the company’s musical director, Gideon Escott.

Where? Tonbridge Castle; Walmer Castle; Scotney Castle, Lamberhurs­t; Danson House, Bexleyheat­h; PowellCott­on Museum, Birchingto­n; Pencester Gardens, Dover

LITTLE WOMEN Chapterhou­se Theatre

This coming-of-age story has been a hit on the page and screen, and it’s now being brought to the stage. Written by American novelist Louisa May Alcott in the 1800s, Little Women tells the story of Jo March and her sisters, Meg, Amy and Beth, as they grow up and pursue different paths in life. The heartfelt tale of sisterly love and finding your way into adulthood comes with stunning period costumes and a musical score.

Where? Walmer Castle


This Is My Theatre

One of the world’s most beloved Shakespear­e plays, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, is often found touring the country at this time of year and is the perfect way to spend a summer’s evening. This enchanting show all about magic and mistaken identity features charming costumes, captivatin­g music and endearing characters, from the fairy-folk to the young Athenian lovers.

Where? The Friars, Aylesford; Chartham Vineyard; St Margaret's Church, Horsmonden; Mount Ephraim Gardens, Faversham

PERSUASION This Is My Theatre

This slapstick adaptation of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, in which former lovers Anne Elliott and Frederick Wentworth attempt to rekindle an old spark, is coming to outdoor stages all over the country. Similar to the company’s previous production­s, including The Importance of Being Earnest and the Three Musketeers, the small group of actors will be chopping and changing characters throughout this chaotic comedy. Where? Nine Oaks Vineyard, Hothfield; Chartham Vineyard; Emmetts Gardens in Ide Hill; St Mary’s Church in Burham, near Rochester

PETER PAN Immersion Theatre

Take to the skies and journey to Neverland with Peter Pan, Tinkerbell and the Lost Boys this summer. The family favourite, which became a huge hit after the release of the Disney animated film in 1953, is brimming with audience interactio­n, a new sidesplitt­ing script and brilliant musical numbers that will have everyone, from kids to grandparen­ts, on their feet. Where? Hever Castle, Edenbridge; Emmetts Garden, Ide Hill

PRESENT LAUGHTER Changeling Theatre

When playwright Noël Coward debuted his comedy, Present Laughter, social media and the internet didn’t exist. Fast forward almost a century later and the show has been updated for the Instagram generation by Changeling Theatre. The play follows Garry Essendine, an actor, fashion icon and charismati­c playboy who suddenly finds himself in the grips of an identity crisis as he tries to figure out the balance between his genuine self and his screen and social media persona. Where? Boughton Monchelsea Place; Old School, New Romney; Penshurst Place; Nurstead Court, Meopham; Riverhill Himalayan Gardens, Sevenoaks; Swarling Manor, near Canterbury; Great Comp Garden, near Borough Green; Smallhythe Place, Tenterden; Upnor Castle; Tithe Barn in Lenham; Biddenden Vineyards; Belmont House, Faversham; Dartford Central Park; Scotney Castle



Jane Austen’s love story is widely recognised as one of the most wellknown love stories in literary history. The characters have even been portrayed by Hollywood superstars including Keira Knightley, Rosamund Pike and Colin Firth. Now, the performers from Chapterhou­se are bringing fans of the Regency-era romance their version of events, with elaborate Bridgerton-style costumes and a passionate musical score. Where? Hemsted Park, Benenden School


Follow the yellow brick road and find yourself transporte­d to the Emerald City in this magical family show. Based on the novel by L Frank Baum and the 1939 film starring Judy Garland, the play sees Dorothy Gale find her way through the eccentric land of Oz as she tries to escape the Wicked Witch of the West and get home with the help of the Tin Man, Scarecrow and Cowardly Lion.

Where? Nine Oaks Vineyard, Hothfield; Mount Ephraim Gardens, Faversham; Chapel Down, near Tenterden

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 ?? ?? This Is My Theatre are putting on another Jane Austen production following 2022’s Pride and Prejudice. Below, Kent’s Changeling Theatre will be taking on Henry V and Present Laughter this year.
This Is My Theatre are putting on another Jane Austen production following 2022’s Pride and Prejudice. Below, Kent’s Changeling Theatre will be taking on Henry V and Present Laughter this year.

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