Kenneth More Theatre to pay tribute to Barbara Hills with new show Our Fair Lady

PUBLISHED: 12:00 30 April 2016

Barbara Hills

Barbara Hills


Champion of the community and tireless supporter of the arts Barbara Hills is to be the subject of a new show, which will raise money for drama projects in Ilford.

Our Fair Lady is a celebration of her life and features a collection of her favourite theatre scenes and songs, from a variety of genres.

Barbara, who died after a short illness last summer at the age of 84, ran the Kenneth More Theatre Club and appeared in many productions.

She was also a great supporter of charities and was heavily involved in promoting and preserving the Ilford Hospital Chapel – one of the town’s oldest buildings.

John Gadd, chairman of the Kenneth More Theatre Club, told the Recorder Barbara had been a close friend since the 1960s and it seemed right to put on a show in her name.

“She loved live theatre, ranging from opera and dance to farce and drama,” he said.

“It is a tribute to her and a celebration of her life.”

From West Side Story and The Beggar’s Opera to the Importance of Being Earnest, the show contains extracts from many well-known plays and musicals.

Our Fair Lady boasts a big cast and, rather than having a small group of thespians enact a lot of different scenes, people who have worked with Barbara and been touched by her zest for life will all contribute to different parts of the show.

John said rehearsals began last week and, despite cast members’ personal connections to Barbara, all are working hard to put on the best show they can.

“It is a fundraiser that will give to the Kenneth More Theatre Club, so we want to do it well,” said John.

“From the date of her death we had a meeting and we knew we wanted to put on a tribute for her.”

The chairman said a great many people knew Barbara through her work with charity, the theatre and as a Christian and he is hoping for a full house.

“We are hoping a great number of people turn up and join us in the celebration of her life,” he added.

At the time of Barbara’s death, Vivyan Ellacott, former manager of the theatre, told the Recorder it was hard to picture the venue without her.

He said: “She was one of those people who are truly irreplaceable.

“The sense of personal loss is very great, but I know it is shared by many, very many, others, whose lives have been enriched by this remarkable woman.”

Barbara may have primarily been known for her generosity and contributions to the community, but she was also famous for her glitzy outfits, over-the-top jewellery and huge sparkly eyelashes.

She has been described as the backbone of the theatre for more than 40 years and affected the lives of many in and around the community.

To celebrate her life and enjoy a night of entertainment, head down to the Kenneth More Theatre, Oakfield Road, Ilford, on May 8 at 7pm.

All tickets are £15. For more information, visit or call 020 8553 4466.

If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Ilford Recorder. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Ilford Recorder