10 of the best open air theatre productions in Hampshire - summer 2015

West Green House plays host to a variety of outdoor operas

West Green House plays host to a variety of outdoor operas - Credit: Archant

Summer is on the horizon and one of the best ways to enjoy those long evenings is with a picnic, a bottle of Champagne and a large dose of fun-filled entertainment at open air theatre productions across the county. Claire Pitcher brings you her top picks not to be missed

As You Like It

The Festival Players Theatre Company will be performing Shakespeare’s wonderful pastoral comedy full of love, laughter, and lyricism. Set in the Forest of Arden, there are plenty of engaging characters that will be performed by an all-male company. The audience will also get to enjoy songs set to original music by Johnny Coppin - perfect entertainment for a summer’s evening.

Tickets are £13.50 for adults, £10.50 for students, under 16s and season ticket holders and £44 for a family ticket. If you buy them in advance you can save £1. Call the box office on 01425 278807 or book online at www.crbo.co.uk.

• When: 10 June, 6.30pm

• Where: Highcliffe Castle, Rothesay Drive, Highcliffe, BH23 4LE


Pride & Prejudice

Most Read

It’s fair to say that Jane Austen’s witty and romantic masterpiece is one of the best-loved stories of all time, dealing with the most important questions in life. Will Mrs Bennett manage to offload her numerous daughters in record time? Will Elizabeth and Darcy actually get together? The literary classic gets the full Pantaloons treatment in this beautifully hilarious and delightfully innovative new adaptation.

Tickets are £12.50 for adults, £8 for children under 16 and £35 for a family. Call 02392 412265 or book online at www.thepantaloons.co.uk

The Pantaloons will also be performing Pride and Prejudice at Highcliffe Castle on June 8. Tickets are £12.50 for adults, £9.50 for under 16s and £43 for a family ticket. They’re also at Avington Park near Winchester on July 19. Tickets for Avington are £12.50 for adults, £8 for children under 16 and £35 for a family ticket. Visit www.thepantaloons.co.uk to book online and for box office numbers.

• When: 24 June, 7pm

• Where: Stanstead Park, Rowlands Castle, Havant, PO9 6DX


The Comedy of Errors

Following last summer’s tour of Twelfth Night, Castle Theatre Company celebrates its 36th Summer Shakespeare Tour of castles and manor houses of the UK, including an open-air performance of The Comedy of Errors in the ancient grounds of Beaulieu Abbey. The play tells the story of two sets of identical twins that were accidentally separated at birth. Antipholus of Syracuse and his servant, Dromio of Syracuse, arrive in Ephesus, which turns out to be the home of his twin brother, Antipholus of Ephesus and his servant, Dromio of Ephesus. When the Syracusans encounter the friends and families of their twins a series of wild mishaps based on mistaken identities lead to wrongful beatings, a near-seduction, the arrest of Antipholus of Ephesus, and false accusations of infidelity, theft, madness, and demonic possession.

Even if the weather in the forest takes a turn, the performance will go ahead inside the Abbey’s Domus. Tickets are £12 for adults and £10 concessions. Call 01590 612888 or visit www.beaulieu.co.uk.

• When: 9 and 10 July, 7pm

• Where: Beaulieu Abbey, John Montagu Building, Beaulieu, Brockenhurst, SO42 7ZN


The Wind in the Willows

In association with Andover Community Theatre, the Hawk Conservancy near Andover will be presenting Kenneth Grahame’s classic tale of Mole, Ratty, Badger and Toad. What scrapes will Toad get himself in to? And is Badger always so frustratingly wise and illusive? If the weather’s good, why not turn up early to enjoy a picnic or treat yourself to a meal and drinks in Feathers restaurant onsite.

Tickets for Wind in the Willows cost £20 for adults, £15 for seniors and students, £10 for children and £55 for a family ticket. Go online to book at www.hawk-conservancy.org.

• When: 25 to 27 June, 7pm

• Where: The Hawk Conservancy Andover, SP11 8DY, 01264 773850


Much Ado About Nothing

As well as Pride & Prejudice, The Pantaloons’ will also take on Shakespeare’s timeless summer comedy of masks, music and mistaken identities this season, at various locations in Hampshire.

The story goes: the boys are back from the war and it’s time for celebration - but villainous Don John decides to spoil everyone’s fun with his devious plots...Will young Claudio and his love Hero fall foul of these machinations? Will Beatrice and Benedick stop bickering and fall in love? Most importantly though, don’t forget your picnic. There are performances at Mottisfont on the 10th July, The Mill House in Odiham on 23rd July and White Hart in Alton on 5th August.

Tickets cost from £12, depending on the venue. Go online to book at www.thepantaloons.co.uk.

• When: 10 and 23 July (5 August), 7pm

• Where: Mottisfont, Mottisfont Lane, Romsey, SO51 0LP; The Mill House, Hook Road, North Warnborough, Odiham, RG29 1ET and the White Hart, Holybourne, Alton, GU34 4EY


A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Shakespeare’s most popular comedy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, portrays the adventures of four young lovers and a group of amateur actors, their interactions with woodland fairies and a Duke and Duchess. Taking place in a mythical city and an enchanted forest, there is a handsome fairy king, a misguided parent, star-crossed lovers, a weaver who’s transformed into a half-donkey, wood sprites and elves. This work is widely performed around the world, and no wonder - it’s about the world’s most popular pastime, falling in love. But as Puck knows, falling in love can make fools of us all. This performance by Quantum Theatre is presented in their inimitable style - fast paced, highly energetic and interlaced with live music.

Tickets cost £13.50 for adults, £10.50 for students, under 16s and season ticket holders and £44 for a family ticket. Call the Castle Box Office on 01425 278807.

• When: 24 June, 7pm

• Where: Highcliffe Castle, Rothesay Drive, Highcliffe, BH23 4LE


Cheshire Cats

Cheshire Cats is a cross between a girl’s night out and a real mission to support a cause close to many hearts, with plenty of laughs and a few tears along the way. Follow the Cheshire Cats team as they speedwalk their way to fundraising success in the London Moonwalk. Hilary, Siobhan, Yvonne, Vicky and Maggie are attempting to walk 13 miles across the capital in record time in their decorated bras and posh new trainers, but the sixth member of the team doesn’t seem to meet the physical criteria.

Book your tickets online at www.plazatheatre.com.

• When: 15 to 18 July, 7.30pm

• Where: Venue to be confirmed, see website for details.


The Tempest

The Villagers Open Air Shakespeare Group is, as they put it: “A group of friends who, every summer, accidentally put on a play”. The production they are accidentally doing this year is Shakespeare’s The Tempest. For those who don’t know the story… King Alonso of Naples and his entourage sail home for Italy after attending his daughter’s wedding in Tunis, Africa. They encounter a violent storm, or Tempest. Everyone jumps overboard and is washed ashore on a strange island inhabited by the magician Prospero who has deliberately conjured up the storm. Prospero and Miranda live in a cave on the island, which is also inhabited by Ariel, a sprite who carries out the bidding of Prospero, and the ugly, half human Caliban. Various plots against the main characters fail thanks to the magic of Prospero.

Ticket prices are £7 for adults, £5 students and seniors, £3 under 16s and £15 for families. All profits from the productions go to local charities. Call 02392 526573 or email villagers@villagers.hampshire.org.uk See www.villagers.hampshire.org.uk.

• When: 17 to 19 July & 22 to 26 July

• Where: Venues yet to be confirmed, see website for further details.


Outdoor Opera

West Green House near Hartley Wintney hosts Opera in the Garden each year and there’s a great line-up this summer. The Marriage of Figaro on July 25 and 26 at 6.30pm and 3pm, Ariadne auf Naxos on August 1 and 2 at 7pm, Mozart’s Phoenix on July 29 at 8pm, An Evening with Joan Rogers CBE on July 31 and Midday Music on July 25 and August 2.

Ticket prices differ per performance, so check online at www.westgreenhouseopera.co.uk or call 01252 848676.

• When: July & August

• Where: West Green, Hartley Wintney, RG27 8JB


Pride & Prejudice

Take a step back in time to meet Elizabeth Bennett, Jane Austen’s most loveable heroine. When she meets the rude and abrupt Mr Darcy, she loathes him at first sight. But is there more to him that meets the eye? Find out whether this classic has a happy ending when it’s performed by the talented actors and actresses of Chapter House Theatre Company.

Tickets cost £15.40 adults, £11 children, £44.95 family. Book online at www.chapterhouse.org or call 01420 511 275.

• When: 30 August, 7.30pm

• Where: Gilbert White and the Oates Collection, The Wakes, High Street, Selborne, GU34 3JH



Best things about living in Lymington - From stories of smuggling and sea salt to summer sailing and superb shopping, Emma Caulton celebrates living the high life in the seaside town of Lymington

Things to do in Hampshire this weekend - Great things to do in Hampshire this weekend: art exhibitions, walks, concerts, theatre, places to visit and other events and ideas.