Kenneth More performer looks back at first show, The Beggar’s Opera

Laura Nayman in the Beggar's Opera at the Kenneth More Theatre in 1975

Laura Nayman in the Beggar's Opera at the Kenneth More Theatre in 1975 - Credit: Kenneth More Theatre

To mark the Kenneth More Theatre’s 40th year the Recorder will take a look back at some of its most memorable shows

On January 3 1975 the Oakfield Road theatre was officially opened by the Mayor of Redbridge and the premier production was The Beggar’s Opera.

“It was a big deal,” said Laura Nayman, who performed in the very first Kenneth More show.

“Redbridge now had a theatre, a proper theatre. We had smaller ones here and there but this was a big deal and it was a fabulous theatre.”

Miss Nayman, who now works as a singing teacher and also sings professionally, had performed all over the borough and was taught her craft by the Redbridge Music Service but this was her first role in such a venue.

She was cast as one of the women of the town, Sukey Tawdrey, in the satirical ballad opera as well as being the understudy to the primary female role, Polly Peachum.

“I wrote everything down because that was how I would remember it all,” The former Seven Kings High School student recalled.

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Miss Nayman, who now lives in Loughton, also has a striking memory of “sitting on an orange box as they built the stage” and rehearsing in the Kenneth More studios.

The Beggar’s Opera was written almost 300 years ago and is one of the few of its kind to remain popular in the present day.

Miss Nayman was cast in the production when she was around 18 years old after meeting the first and former manager of the Kenneth More, Vivyan Ellacott, during a production of The Mikado at Redbridge Technical College, now Redbridge College.

“I have done so many productions since,” she explained.

“I have spent a lot of time at the Kenneth More Theatre over the years.”