On Thursday 12 November, over 300 guests joined Park Theatre Artistic Director Jez Bond, theatre staff and volunteers at a gala fundraising dinner at Stoke Newington Town Hall, hosted in inimitable style by Ian McKellen. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, MP for Islington North and a longtime supporter of Park Theatre’s work, attended with wife Laura Alvarez.
Broadcaster Clive Anderson led a lively auction for a luxurious selection of donated prizes, including money-can’t-buy experiences such as dinner with Benedict Cumberbatch and ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’ evening of home cooking with Maureen Lipman. The auction alone raised £133,500, and the overall total raised from the evening was £215,000.
Guests and friends of the theatre present included Alex Hanson, Alison Steadman, Anita Dobson, Derek Jacobi Frances Barber, Gillian Anderson, Greg Wise, Hattie Morahan, Honeysuckle Weeks, Jane Asher, Janet Street Porter, Jemma Redgrave, Matthew Horne, Matthew Kelly, Orlando Bloom, Owen Jones, Samantha Bond, Tamzin Outhwaite, Tanya Franks, Tanya Moodie, Tim McInnerny and Tracy Ullman.
Jez Bond said, “Our gala was an immense team effort, and a culmination of months of work. As a charity, Park Theatre relies heavily on volunteers from its local neighbourhood and their support on the night was extraordinary. A big thank you also to all our sponsors, and of course the many stars of stage and screen who gave their time and support on the night, helping us to grow our reputation as a force to be reckoned with.
"A very special thank you to Clive Anderson for running the auction, and to our generous host Ian McKellen who presided over the night with impeccable style, wit and wizardly magic. I also would like to thank all our guests who bought tickets and contributed to the extraordinary fundraising on the night. Park Theatre doesn’t receive any public funding and all monies raised will enable us to get closer to our vision of remaining an accessible theatre for Finsbury Park - delivering more productions, engaging in more outreach locally, and gaining in operational stability to support this increased output.”
Guests at the Gala enjoyed a delicious three course dinner created by Boulevard Catering including seabass, lamb with a Meaux mustard sauce and frangipane apple tart, accompanied by Prosecco and wines provided by award-winning producers Casanova, Tenuta Cavalier Pepe and CARM.
Magician Neil Henry wowed guests at their tables with breathtaking close-up tricks, and musical entertainment was provided by City Academy Hackney Community Gospel Choir, Get Funked and DJ Annie O.
Check out images from the gala below (click picture to enlarge):
Photo Credit: Darren Bell