After having missed out for so long on the thrill of attending live performances a treat is in store with the return this summer of five open-air shows by Theatre in the Park at Oakhill Park, East Barnet.

A summer programme of outdoor theatre organised by Barnet Arts opens with a production of Dr Dolittle on Friday 4 June and concludes with Much Ado About Nothing on Sunday 22 August.

The five performances will be staged on grass beside the Oakhill pitch and putt golf course in what is considered an ideal location for open air performances.

“Bring a rug or low-backed chair...picnics welcome or buy refreshments,” says the Barnet Arts’ flyer promoting the shows which will include for the first time a reduced Gilbert and Sullivan operetta HMS Pinafore.

The return of Theatre in the Park to Oak Hill Park is all the more welcome given the decision for the second year running to cancel the East Barnet Festival in July because of uncertainties over the easing of lockdown.

Booking information and tickets are available from the theatre companies taking part – see below – and performances will go ahead come “rain or shine”.

Friday 4 June 3pm Dr Dolittle (www.illyria.co.uk)

Sunday 11 June 3pm Peter Rabbit (www.quantumtheatre.co.uk)

Sunday 18 June 7pm HMS Pinafore (www.illyria.co.uk)

Saturday 24 July 3pm Romeo and Juliet (www.immersiontheatre.co.uk)

Sunday 22 August 3pm Much Ado About Nothing (www.illyria.co.uk)

(Tickets: £14 adults, £12 concessions, £8 children 4-16)

Because of social distancing requirements there was only one production at Oak Hill Park last summer – two performances on Friday 28 August of Kenneth Grahame’s classic children’s story The Wind in the Willows.

Ros Staines, Barnet Arts Trustee, said they were delighted to be able to offer such a range of summer performances beside Oak Hill Golf’s pitch and putt course which provided “a very suitable setting for open-air theatre”.

Barnet Arts took over the Theatre in the Park at Oak Hill in 2019 after the programme had been established in 2006 by Pam Edwards, then chair of the East Barnet Festival.

After starting with a single performance, the programme expanded into a summer season of shows by professional touring companies.

Paul Scagnelli, manager of Oak Hill Golf, said he was delighted to welcome back Theatre in the Park after the much-reduced programme last year.

“Our enclosed space for open air theatre productions is secure and safe and we can easily accommodate up to 250 people who can enjoy a picnic during the show.

“Illyria is a really accomplished professional company, famous for its outdoor productions. During the interval, the audience only have to turn around to enjoy the Oak Hill Park countryside, which is also unbeatable.”

Mr Scagnelli is a local institution in the world of pitch and putt: his grandfather Leo ran the Grovelands pitch and putt at Southgate, which is now managed by his father.    

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