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08 July 2019Thinking Big - The ups and downs of the London Coliseum Theatre (2.0pm start)
10 June 2019'The Extraordinary Life of Misia Sert, Muse to Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec, Bonnard and Vuillard. Patron of the Ballets Russes, Concert Pianist and Fashion Icon'

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Thinking Big - The ups and downs of the London Coliseum Theatre (2.0pm start) Sarah Lenton Monday 08 July 2019

We were pleased to welcome back Sarah Lenton for this her third visit to our society.  After reading Theology at King’s College, London, Sarah has spent most of her working life in the London theatre, mainly at The Royal Opera House,  Glyndebourne and the English National Opera. She writes articles for Royal Opera House programmes, lectures at study days and gives pre-performance talks for the Royal Opera House and English National Opera. Sarah has written and directed more than twenty shows for the Royal Opera House Linbury Theatre and for Glyndebourne Touring Opera. She gives talks at the London Coliseum and, as well as being a cartoonist, Sarah does live commentary for BBC Radio 3 Opera broadcasts and writes scripts for Radio 4. Sarah is also a Theatre Chaplain.

She gave us a fascinating history of the Coliseum Theatre, founded by Oswald (later Sir Oswald) Stoll using his usual architect Frank Matcham to create this unusual theatre.  Sarah's story took us through the various phases of the Coliseum, as a venue for Variety, Musicals, Ballets, Operettas, Operas, Concerts and Cinerama, and even at one stage a setting for displaying Television, described as 'Bairds British invention'. The London Coliseum Theatre is now the home of English National Opera.  

It was the theatre that hosted Les Ballets Russes, Annie Get Your Gun, Music Hall and Cinerama. Everything about the London Coliseum is enormous – the stage, the auditorium, the number of its ghosts, the size of its problems. Sarah has worked here since 1979 and has seen practically everything. She knows how many tons of sand can be tipped on the stage; why there is a knife hanging from the flies; and she showed us a picture of a body lying there.

She illustrated some parts of her story with audio extracts of musical productions, to make this a fitting lecture on which we closed our lecture season.