Colour House Children’s Theatre at Merton Abbey Mills celebrates its 100th production with Peter Pan

A children’s theatre is pulling out all the stops with a show celebrate reaching its 100th production.

The Colour House Theatre, based in a grade II listed building at Merton Abbey Mills, will notch up the century with a two-month run of Peter Pan until November 6 boasting flying actors, Captain Hook, a hungry crocodile and a special appearance from one of soapland’s most famous faces.

Theatre manager Charlie Shakespeare, who adapted JM Barrie’s book for the performance, said: “This one is a big special one. It’s our 100th show.

“We have got a new set designer, new songs and lots that we’re putting into it. We’ve got John Altman (Nasty Nick from EastEnders) in it.

“He is going to be in a pre-recorded sequence so he won’t be there live but he will still be in the show on the big screen.”

Peter Wallder, who ran the theatre when it first opened in 1995, returns to direct the show while a number of businesses have lent their support, including timber company Lawsons who donated wood to build the stage.

Great Ormond Street Hospital, which was left the rights to Peter Pan by JM Barrie, were also helpful in making the show financially viable for the theatre.

Mr Shakespeare said: “Since I have been here I have always wanted to do it. We never thought we could. And it is the absolute perfect show to celebrate on because you couldn’t find a more magical kids’ show.”

Colour House opened 21 years ago and was granted charitable status seven years ago.

Mr Shakespeare said: “For a charity theatre that doesn’t have any funding to reach 100 shows is quite a milestone.

“We have had bits of funding in the past but we don’t have any regular funding. We survive 100 per cent on the box office takings, so it is a big milestone for us.

“Not many theatres our size survive as long as we have.”

Of course, while theatres focussing predominantly on young audiences are not all that prevalent, Merton is in a privileged position with both Colour House and Polka in Wimbledon.

Mr Shakespeare, who came to the theatre five years ago as an actor and has been theatre manager for the past three, said: “We offer something a bit different. It’s more intimate what we do – it’s only a 70 seat theatre – so it is quite nice to have the two. We each appeal to different people.”

He added: “We offer an affordable day out for families. It is something a bit different. Certainly our children’s parties, they are incredible. They come and have a party and see the show.

“There is nowhere that offers anything quite like that. In this day and age it is hard to find little hubs like ours.”

Go to colourhousetheatre.co.uk

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Richmond and Twickenham Times | Theatre