Sounds still to come…

Nearly three thousand tickets have been bought for Wanstead Fringe events so far this year, but there are musical gems still to come which people will not want to miss.

On Saturday there is a concert by the award-winning Redbridge Brass at St Gabriel’s church.

On Sunday there is an afternoon concert of theatre classics by West End singer Lydia Gerrard at St Mary’s.

On Friday evening, in a 60-minute concert, local composer Simone Spagnolo presents a live performance of his album Low Strings Drama. A combination of mystery soundtrack-meets-chamber music, the event is in the United Reformed Church on Nightingale Lane.

And then the final event in this year’s fringe takes place next Saturday – a perfomance of a new musical Dark Isle, with text written by Wanstead actor Katherine Tripp.

Home & Away star joins Wanstead Fringe

Wanstead Theatre Company, which is bringing the farce Breakfast With Jonny Wilkinson to the Wanstead Fringe this week, has an extra sprinkling of star dust on its production. Fiona Gordon writes:

We like to bring the West End to Wanstead but for this show we’ve travelled even further. All the way to Australia, in fact! 

One of our cast members is the utterly delightful Sophie Dillman, [pictured above in rehearsals] who plays series regular and fan favourite Ziggy on Home & Away. 

She is super talented and joins our equally brilliant cast who between them have thrilled you in numerous well known shows and films, including Marvel’s Secret Invasion, Eastenders, Coronation Street, Spooks, Liverpool Narcos, Alan Partridge, London has Fallen, The Wind that Shakes the Barley to name but a few.

All of the cast are hilarious in this very British romp of a farce!

Tickets for all performances are available here via the Wanstead Fringe website. The first performance is on Monday.

Wanstead Youth Centre to remain open as ‘education and youth hub’

It looks like Redbridge has done a U-turn on plans to close Wanstead Youth Centre. A statement issued by the council says it is to be turned into an “education and youth hub”, with additional youth services and hirable spaces. It will also be renovated.

The statement comes just days before the council’s cabinet is due to decide on the future of the centre on Elmcroft Avenue. As we reported on Wednesday, campaigners were planning to demonstrate outside the council meeting in Ilford.

The council’s document will be pored over by campaigners to see exactly what the plan involves, specifically whether groups who have hired the facilities in the past will still be able to do so.

The council’s full statement reads:

Redbridge Council to review plans to deliver an education and youth hub in Wanstead

Redbridge Council is proposing to deliver an education and youth hub at Wanstead Youth Centre, securing its future for use by generations of children, young people, and local community groups.

This week, Redbridge Council published a report recommending a way forward for the centre, which includes the delivery of education services, a tuition centre, and an Early Years Play and Development centre alongside adding youth services. The proposals, which would be funded by the council’s Education Service, will go to Cabinet for approval on Thursday 14 September.

The proposals include renovating the building and co-locating education and youth services to create an education and youth hub serving the west of Redbridge. Additional funding would be secured through the council’s ringfenced Education Service to deliver the scheme.

If the proposal is agreed upon, the building on Elmcroft Avenue will temporarily close to outside hirers from Sunday, 15 October 2023, so surveying works can begin. Redbridge Council’s leisure partner, Vision RCL, who operates the centre, have been working with businesses and groups currently hiring space at the centre to help them relocate to alternative venues. Kids In Charge, a childcare service currently based at the centre, will now be located in Nightingale Primary School.

The Leader of Redbridge Council, Cllr Jas Athwal, said: “We’re looking at plans to secure the future of the centre by providing additional education and youth services that will benefit local children, young people, and the wider community.

“We’ve listened to local people who have shared how important the centre is for local young people, and we’re keen to explore ways to provide additional educational services and hire space that operates in a financially sustainable way.

“Redbridge is one of the lowest-funded boroughs in London, and we have been forced to make huge savings of £236million because of government cuts over the past decade. Despite these challenges, we will continue to deliver vital services and invest in what matters most to our neighbours.”

Wanstead Youth Centre incurs a significant net cost, unlike other leisure and community buildings, and requires a council-funded subsidy to operate. In April 2022, a building condition survey was completed, which highlighted that considerable structural work would be essential to bring the facility up to modern standards.

Proposals to renovate Wanstead Youth Centre to create a financially sustainable education and youth hub will go to Redbridge Council Cabinet on 14 September.

To come: Comment from Save Our Wanstead Youth Centre Campaign.

Set fair for the return of the Kinema

After an unpredictable summer, the weather forecast for this Saturday’s Wanstead Kinema – the Fringe’s open-air cinema – is about as good as organizers could have hoped for.

This year’s film is Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical, starring Emma Thompson with lyrics by Tim Minchin. The screening is again taking place in the gardens of Christ Church – which may feel a bit different following the untimely death of the massive cedar tree which previously stood there. The church believes last year’s drought was to blame for the tree’s death.

But the Kinema will go on – and as before there will be chicken on the rotisserie, a pop-up from the Wanstead Tap, and a great family atmosphere.

Tickets are selling fast (and sold out completely last year) so don’t miss out. You can get them here.