50 Years at Wellington Circus: The Eighties

1980 Richard Digby Day takes the helm and directs Imelda Staunton in Under Milk Wood, Mrs Warren’s Profession and A Little Night Music, which also features Evelyn Laye and Sandi Toksvig

1981 Hollywood star Celeste Holm appears in Lady in the Dark; Imelda Staunton plays Piaf and features opposite Denis Quilley in Digby Day’s European premiere of Mack and Mabel, a production which inspires one of Torvill and Dean’s most famous ice dances

1982 Richard Digby Day takes the company out and about for a “Lakeside Spectacular” starring Noele Gordon at Clumber Park, after earlier directing Godspell at Southwell Minster and Paul McGann in Byron’s Cain at Newstead Abbey

1983 HRH Princess Margaret attends the 20th anniversary production of Coriolanus, featuring James Cairncross from the 1963 cast, alongside a young Janet McTeer and Hugh Grant

1984 Kenneth Alan Taylor takes over as Artistic Director and institutes the celebrated Playhouse pantomime; Gregory Doran is among the directors of Ayckbourn’s Norman Conquests trilogy, with Douglas Hodge as Norman

1985 Barry Heath’s Nottingham play Me Mam Sez is a sell-out sensation, with people queuing past the Albert Hall and fighting on the forecourt for returns

1986 The Playhouse finds unexpected new writers: serving Nottinghamshire MP Joe Ashton contributes A Majority of One, while Kenneth Alan Taylor directs Paula Wilcox, Jeff Rawle and Susie McKenna in Queer Folk, a script sent on spec by blind first-time playwright Rosie Logan

1987 Taylor’s production of And Then There Were None transfers to the Duke of York’s Theatre

1988 Hello Dolly! starring Dora Bryan embarks on a major national tour

1989 Kenneth Alan Taylor directs a stage adaptation of The Hobbit, which also meets great success on tour