“A big Christmassy hug of a show”

Meet Mary Swan, Artistic Director and Chief Executive of Proteus Theatre, the theatre company behind this year's Christmas show, A Christmas Carol. 

What makes Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol a story worth telling?Mary Swan CEO of Proteus Theatre

A Christmas Carol is pretty timeless, but right now when money is tight for most families and the gap between rich and poor seems to be increasing; there seems to be a real relevance to the tale of a man who has essentially devoted his life to making money at the expense of everyone around him – including himself. For younger audiences, the idea of your past informing your present and your future being unfixed is really vital – we want young people to understand that everything can change, and the best place to start is with yourself. The story is also about how caring for others, particularly the most vulnerable in our society is what gives us our humanity. Most importantly though, it’s a cracking good story and is the ultimate Christmas tale – ghosts, laughs, goodies and baddies and a mascara warning or two!! 

Despite some of the heavy themes, are there some funny moments in the Proteus adaptation?

Oh absolutely – anyone who has seen our work in the past will know we always tell our tales with a sense of humour – usually a pretty silly one! There will be lots of puppets made by our brilliant Puppet Master Nick Ash – he makes puppets for Polka and The Globe in London and has just finished the puppets for the world tour of the live CBeebies show ‘Sarah and Duck’ so you can expect a lot of laughs and warmth from the show – we want to give the audience a great big Christmassy hug of a show!! 

Who should come and see this show?

Anyone and everyone! There’s something in the show for all ages as we really want the whole family to come along – in the same way that Pixar understand that ‘Toy Story’ or ‘Monsters Inc’ will be watched by grandparents, younger children and teenagers; we make sure the whole family is entertained! We have put an age guideline on the show of 6+ and this is mainly to do with the story-line – there are ghosts, although not super scary!! To be honest we are happy if younger children come along; my children were watching classic film versions of the story from a very early age! Also we recommend 6+ due to the fact that the show is script based, which may not be so suitable for some younger children. 

How have you managed to condense Dickens’s novella into a 70 minutes?!

Aahhh, now that would be telling! Needless to say it’s fast, physical and funny, that’s our style, so don’t blink or you’ll miss something!  

Well, you've heard it from Artistic Director herself, BOOK NOW and find out how Proteus Theatre have adapted Charles Dickens's masterpiece into a wonderful festive show for all the family.

New Let's Dance Beginners' Class to start in September

We are excited to announce that an additional dance class for those aged 55 years and older will be starting up this September, due to popular demand. The success of the two existing Let’s Dance classes has led to the creation of a new class for beginners.

Let's Dance ClassLet’s Dance is a happy fusion of getting active, involved and healthy through the power of dance and movement. The classes focus on mobility, fitness and creative dance with light stretches, moving towards simple routines. Professional dancers lead the classes and participants can expect to learn a wide variety of choreography in a relaxed and friendly environment. There are also occasional opportunities for dancers to take part in performances throughout the year. Since 2016, Let’s Dance participants have taken part in Big Dance 2016 (choreographed by Akram Khan), Dance Ignite, Hertfordshire’s Hidden Heroines project (at Trestle Theatre) and they have even starred in a Dirty Dancing-themed episode of The Keith and Paddy Picture Show (see below article)! 

In addition to the thrill of performing, there are numerous physical and mental health benefits for staying active later in life. The classes are also a great place to meet new people and many new friendships have blossomed since Dance Practitioner, Louise White, founded the classes in 2015.

Those new to classes are advised to book on to the Beginners Class, which will take place at The Old Town Hall on Mondays from 12:30pm – 1:30pm, with the first session starting on Monday 18 September. Attendees should wear loose clothes and soft shoes/bare feet. For further information and for the full list of class dates, click here.


Let’s Dance Have the Time of Their Lives in Filming Debut!

Members of The Old Town Hall’s over 55’s dance group, Let’s Dance, made an appearance on ITV’s new show, The Keith and Paddy Picture Show, in a recreation of the film Dirty Dancing. Starring both Keith Lemon (Celebrity Juice, Sketch Show) and Paddy McGuinness (Take Me Out), The Keith and Paddy Picture Show is an affectionate and humorous tribute to some of Keith and Paddy’s favourite movies of all time. Each week they will attempt to recreate an iconic film, with the help of an all-star celebrity cast.Lets Dance with Keith Lemon 

Following their involvement in last year’s international Big Dance event and celebrations for the Queen’s 90th birthday, Let’s Dance are no strangers to public performances and were excited to make the most of the opportunity. Filming began at Phasels Wood Campsite in Kings Langley, where the dancers got to experience all aspects of life on a film set. After professional hair and make-up, the dancers worked with the director and crew as they performed alongside a number of famous faces, including Keith Lemon, Paddy McGuinness, Larry Lamb, John Barrowman and Jessica Hynes. The group travelled to Essex for a second day of filming, which involved learning a new dance routine with professional choreographer Emer Walsh. 

The dancers impressed the cast and crew with their professionalism and focus. Dance Practitioner Louise said: “Learning new choreography and waiting around on a TV set demands a lot of stamina and when you think that some of the group are in their 80s what they achieved was really quite amazing. None of us had been in a situation like this before and the dancers took the opportunity with both hands and exceeded all expectations.” 

The show’s Assistant Director contacted Louise after filming to express his gratitude for the group’s “hard work and enthusiasm”.  He went on to say that all of the cast and crew had commented on the professionalism displayed by Let’s Dance during the filming.  The Dirty Dancing episode of The Keith and Paddy Picture Show featuring Let’s Dance was aired on Saturday 6 May.

Let’s Dance was founded at The Old Town Hall in 2015 by Dance Artist Louise White. The weekly sessions are currently funded by Get Set Go Dacorum and they take place on Mondays at 11am and 1pm. Click here for further details or call: 01442 228091.