Dukes Lancaster celebrates its 50th year



The Dukes, Lancaster is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Lancashire’s only producing theatre has placed arts and culture at the heart of the Lancashire and Lancaster City region since 1971, offering a home for live theatre, cinema and community activities.

Over the years it has welcomed plenty of famous performers, including Dame Harriet Walter, Gloria Grahame, Andy Serkis and most recently Sir Ian McKellen.

From the start of its year of celebration, from November, the theatre will debut two new productions: a retelling of the infamous Lancaster true crime tale of Buck Ruxton, Belle & Mary (November 18-20) and this year’s annual in-the-round Christmas production, Beauty & the Beast (December 3-31).

Belle & Mary is based on the true story of the murders of Isabella "Belle" Ruxton and Mary Jane Rogerson in the 1930s. Still regarded as one of the most shocking crimes of the last century, the case of jealousy, deception and tragedy also marked a pivotal moment in forensic detection. Several wrapped bundles of human remains were found in Moffat, Scotland in 1935 and the investigation eventually led back to the two women in Lancaster and the man who killed them.

Beauty & the Beast will see the return of the creative team of writer and co-director Daniel Bye and co-director Sarah Punshon, who previously collaborated on the theatre's highly-regarded pantos Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty.

Dukes’ chief executive Karen O’Neill said: “It is wonderful to be celebrating our 50th birthday! This is a milestone year for us.

“The Dukes has been at the heart of Lancaster since 1971, both as a theatre and as an independent cinema, and has achieved so much.”

The festivities will also celebrate the theatre’s long-standing team members, including data & audience development manager Karen Chandisingh and technical manager Brent Lees – both of whom have worked at the Dukes for over 25 years – as well as a strong team of volunteers.

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