Video: Stage set for theatrical dinner with stars

THEY might call the stage their home, but there was one thing Prunella Scales and Timothy West had yet to experience beneath the spotlights of a theatre - sitting down for a three course meal.

Laurence Cawley

THEY might call the stage their home, but there was one thing Prunella Scales and Timothy West had yet to experience beneath the spotlights of a theatre - sitting down for a three course meal.

Last night, at the Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds, the stage was turned into a makeshift restaurant where fans and supporters of the recently restored playhouse shared an intimate meal with the much-loved stars.

The couple, who stayed last night at the four-star Angel Hotel, in Angel Hill, were the first guests to arrive and were present to greet diners as they were ushered onto the stage.


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Rather than candlelight, each table was lit with stage lights from above and the different courses were brought in by the waiting staff from the wings.

Mr West's association with the Bury playhouse stretches back to the 1960s and he was patron of its �5million restoration appeal in which the Theatre Royal reopened only last year after being brought back to its original Georgian glory.

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“We remember the theatre from way back,” said Mr West. “It is wonderful and I've watched it from the very beginning of the idea of restoration all the way through to this. It is such a magnificent theatre. I think it is wonderful.”

Asked whether sitting down to dinner was something he had ever done on stage before, Mr West said: “No, this is not something I've done before. I have eaten on stage before, but only in a play. This is quite new, and it looks fantastic.

“This is a nice opportunity to relax and chat with some of the people who have supported the theatre. That's what this is about, chatting.”

Ms Scales, Mr West's wife of more than 40 years and best known as the long-suffering television spouse Sybil Fawlty in Fawlty Towers, said both she and her husband had performed on stage at the Theatre Royal a number of times over the years though she did not remember them ever appearing together.

The dinner event with Ms Scales and Mr West marks the first of three celebrity nights at the theatre aimed at raising money for a number of the playhouse's projects.

Emma Suckling, the theatre's development officer, said: “We had a really fantastic year at the theatre in 2008 and we wanted to do something very special and celebratory for our audiences to start 2009.

“Each evening will feature anecdotes, humour and storytelling in a really different way - from the charm and presence of Robert Hardy (star of All Creatures Great and Small and Harry Potter) to the fascinating and journalistic stories of Martin Bell.

“The funds we raise from the events are going towards our community, outreach and accessibility projects - we are doing a big drive this year to raise funds for theatre in the community and making our theatre more accessible for hearing and visually impaired patrons.”

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