20th bday logo2014 is a significant year in the life of The Mission Theatre’s resident company: Next Stage. In May, Next Stage celebrates 20 years of bringing first class, cutting-edge drama to Bath audiences. Artistic Director of the company, Ann Garner says: “I find it hard to grasp the fact that it really is 20 years since Andrew Ellison and I set up the fledgling Next Stage Theatre Company and I directed Educating Rita which opened on May 18th 1994. Our aim then, as now, was that Next Stage would produce in Bath some of the best 20th and 21st Century drama, delivered to a professional standard and frequently in-the-round.” It is amazing to think that since 1994 Next Stage has brought over 150 productions to the city and toured some of the most memorable shows to Bristol, Scarborough, New York, London and The Minack Theatre in Cornwall. On top of this, nine years ago, Next Stage Theatre Company opened The Mission Theatre in the heart of Bath, breathing new life into a derelict building and bringing first class entertainment to the new venue. The thriving Youth Theatre is also celebrating 20 years of existence in 2014 and the hope is that, throughout the year, both adult and youth casts will bring yet more fine drama and ground-breaking productions to Bath audiences.

IMG_1832 - CopyThe birthday year began with a revival of The Norman Conquests, one of the finest comedies written by Next Stage’s patron Sir Alan Ayckbourn, and to celebrate the company’s official 20th Birthday in May, Next Stage’s Artistic Director Ann Garner is presenting possibly her most ambitious project yet – House and Garden, also by Alan Ayckbourn. These two plays tell the story of a chaotic weekend in the life of Teddy and Trish Platt as their garden is given over to the local Summer fête, and their house becomes the scene of many a marital drama. The twist is that both plays are staged simultaneously, with actors leaving one set to travel to the next, hopefully arriving on the other stage at the correct time! With The Theatre Upstairs playing host to 50 audience members and the Main Auditorium accommodating another 50, plus the entire garden fête, these are two productions you will not want to miss. House and Garden run from May 13-17th at 7.30pm with a matinee of both plays at 2pm on Saturday 17th.

Following the May celebrations Next Stage continues its year of first class drama at The Mission Theatre with a topical production of Joan Littlewood’s classic piece: Oh What A Lovely War. With the theatre transformed into a circus tent and with actors drawn from Next Stage and Next Stage Youth this promises to be a hugely enjoyable excursion into musical theatre – a rare departure for the company but one which will only serve to demonstrate its versatility. In the autumn Next Stage pays homage to another of its illustrious patrons: David Hare when a stellar cast presents The Judas Kiss, and to round off its 20th Birthday year in style Next Stage will end an exciting and dramatically challenging 12 months with Tennessee Williams’ Sweet Bird of Youth.

If you have missed out on Next Stage’s last 150 productions make sure you don’t miss out on any more – further details on www.next-stage.co.uk