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Queen’s Theatre artistic director Bob Carlton stepping down after 17 years

Bob Carlton. Photo: Nobby Clark
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Bob Carlton, who has been artistic director at the Queen’s Theatre in Hornchurch for 17 years, is stepping down from the post in November.

Carlton – who is credited with saving the theatre from closure – will leave after directing his self-penned musical, Return to the Forbidden Planet, which will tour the UK after its run in Hornchurch, from November 6 to 15.

Carlton will be returning to work as a freelance director and to focus on his writing career. One of his first projects will be with Walnut Street Theater in the US, directing Private Lives.

Carlton said he was “proud” of the Queen’s achievements over the last 17 years, adding: “It has been a true team effort involving a lot of dedicated and ingenious people, who have created quality theatre on shoestring budgets.”

He said he hoped the theatre “continues to be a place where our whole community comes to enjoy professional, affordable, truly fantastic theatre”.

Carlton took up the artistic director post in 1997, during a time of financial difficulty for the venue.

As well as being credited with saving it from closure, he was behind the theatre’s readmission into Arts Council England’s national portfolio.

Carlton also launched Cut to the Chase, a professional company of actor/musicians, which the venue claims is the only one in the UK.

During his time at the Queen’s, the artistic director has programmed more than 30 seasons.

Dennis Roycroft, who is chairman of the board of trustees, said that Carlton had made a “significant contribution to the success of the theatre”.

“When he arrived it was about to close, but with his vision and drive, the Queen’s not only continues to flourish but is one of the country’s few remaining successful producing theatres,” he said.

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