02:20PM, Friday 09 October 2020
A popular theatre in Sonning is set to re-open after receiving help from supporters and regular attendees George and Amal Clooney.
The Mill at Sonning will reopen its theatre on Friday, October 30, following a nine-month closure due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Since celebrating its 38th birthday in July, the Mill has only been able to open its adjoining restaurant with the offer of reduced seating, however this coupled with donations and fundraising from Mill Angel supporters and actor George Clooney and his wife Amal has given the theatre a ‘lifeline’ to ensure it’s survival.
Playwright Ray Cooney has also provided financial aid and will have the auditorium named after him.
The 2021 season is set to feature a series of productions, including a new production of Ray Cooney’s ‘Two into One’, Alan Aykbourn’s ‘Relatively Speaking’, Irving Berlin’s musical ‘Top Hat’, and the crime whodunit ‘Busman Honeymoon’, which will be directed by actor Brian Blessed.
Brian said: “Dorothy L Sayers is one of the greatest writers of The Golden Age of British crime fiction. This is her masterpiece.”
Sally Hughes, managing director, said: “I owe the most enormous thank you to a very special man - the wonderful Ray Cooney. When we had to close down he was straight in there with financial aid. He has called me every week during the last five months to see how we are getting on.
"Next year I will be producing a special Gala night we are naming the auditorium after him.”
Due to the social distancing guidelines, the Mill will reopen at a reduced capacity of 70 customers for dinner and show, but the venue has come up with a way to hide the empty seats.
Sally added: “Our in-house master carpenter has built small tables that will slot over the empty seats. These can move depending on the size of each group and will be dressed with small lights, so the auditorium will look more like an intimate cabaret space than a traditional theatre.”
The UK has voted to leave the European Union in yesterday's referendum - and while the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead fell into the remain camp, Slough voted to support a Brexit.