The curtain went up at Windsor’s Theatre Royal on Tuesday after the longest period of closure in the building’s history.
Executive producer Bill Kenwright gave an emotional speech to the first audience before the play began,
“I’m so grateful that in many ways you are being brave,” he said.
“My first thanks are to you and thanks to this wonderful theatre.
"It’s not been easy. My gran always said ‘son your eyes are too near your bladder.’
“Maybe I’ve taken for granted a bit, Windsor Theatre Royal, but it is right that here is reopening, it really is part of the community.”
He thanked the audience, the theatres staff and crew and friends from the industry who rallied round during the lockdown and recalled the Saturday ‘a day Everton won three nil’ that he resolved to stage a short repertory-style season and a pantomime.
“We’ve got Iain Glen [Game of Thrones] here next week, Matthew Cottle, Felicity Kendal, Tom Conti, Charlie Stemp, Will Young making his Windsor debut... There’s seldom been the excitement before an opening night like today.”
Love Letters, a touching, funny story of a lifelong friendship stars Martin Shaw and Jenny Seagrove. It runs at Theatre Royal Windsor until Saturday.
The season includes Agatha Christie’s Love from a Stranger (with Iain Glen and his wife Charlotte Emerson) from October 20 to 24, The Lady in the Van: Windsor On Air (with Jenny Seagrove, Matthew Cottle and Sara Crowe) from October 27 to 31.
November sees Lloyd George Knew My Father: Windsor On Air (with Felicity Kendal and Tom Conti) and A Thousand Clowns (with Will Young).
Pantomime sweeps in on November 19 with a glittering production of Cinderella.