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A journey down memory lane

Posted: Wednesday 18 July, 2012

There was a happy reunion on Tuesday 17th July for Next Stage’s Artistic Director Ann Garner and company patron Keith Michell. Accomplished actor, painter, director and musician Keith Michell was at the Costume Museum in the Assembly Rooms Bath opening their Jubilee exhibition: Dressing the Monarchy on Stage and Screen. The exhibition included costumes worn by Keith Michell in his role as the king in the television series The Six Wives of Henry VIII and also in the miniseries The Prince and The Pauper.

Andrew Ellison (Director Next Stage), Keith Michell and Ann Garner (Artistic Director Next Stage) 17 July 2012

Ann and Keith had last met in the 1990s, but have known each other since the 1970s when Ann made regular visits to the Chichester Festival Theatre where Keith was Artistic Director. Inspired by Chichester’s thrust staging and many of the plays she saw there during Keith Michell’s directorship, Ann went on to direct her own plays with local Bath companies throughout the ‘70s before taking time out to raise her family.

Keith Michell (Artistic Director Chichester Festival Theatre) with Ann at Chichester 1974

Ann and Keith kept in touch throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s

and when Ann started the Next Stage Theatre Company in 1994, Keith was happy to be its first patron. In 1996 Keith Michell, an accomplished artist, provided the original artwork for the publicity of Next Stage’s production of Timberlake Wertenbaker’s Our Country’s Good.

Ann Garner says:
“It was really lovely to see Keith, his wife, daughter and granddaughter last night. We had not seen each other for a long time and so much has happened in the last 10 years. Keith was thrilled to hear that the Next Stage company had flourished since its inception and was interested to hear of our tours to London, New York, Scarborough and The Minack. However, what delighted Keith and his family the most was news of the creation of The Mission Theatre here in Bath. With Keith’s granddaughter at Bristol Old Vic, the family have close links with the area and have promised to try and get to see The Mission when they are next in the vicinity.
It seems a long time ago that I first saw Keith performing in London in1964 as the lead in the musical “Robert and Elizabeth”, but he is still as charming and articulate as ever and without a doubt one of the most important influences on my artistic development.”

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