Chickenshed (also known as Chicken Shed or the Chicken Shed Theatre Company) is a British theatre company based in Cockfosters, London. It was founded in 1974 in a disused chicken shed by Mary Ward and Jo Collins. The company produces theatrical and musical productions, performed by children, teenagers and adults of all backgrounds and abilities. It was the first company to start the idea of "inclusive theatre" – theatre that is open to everyone of all backgrounds and abilities. It doesn't hold auditions for any of its shows, instead relying on prior knowledge of their members' strengths in performing arts and casting them accordingly. As well as its London base, the company also has several other theatre workshops (known as "sheds") across and beyond The British Isles as part of its "Outreach" project.
It is registered as a charity under the name The Chickenshed Theatre Trust. Their Christmas show in December 2008/January 2009 was The Twelve Days of Christmas. In June 2009, it was announced that the following Christmas show for December 2009/January 2010 would be Pinocchio, which was actually the second time that Chickenshed had done that show. The show for December 2010/January 2011 was Badjelly's Bad Christmas, which was created by the company based on Spike Milligan's poetry and stories for children. The show for November and December 2011/January 2012 was Cinderella, and the show for November and December 2012/January 2013 was 'Sleeping Beauty - Dream On', and the show for November and December 2013/January 2014 was 'The Night Before Christmas'.
In 1996, company founder Mary Ward was awarded the MBE for Services to the Arts followed in 1999, with a Creative Britons Award, to acknowledge her 25 years of work with the theatre, while co-founder Jo Collins was awarded the MBE in the 2001 New Year's honours, for Services to Music. Chickenshed has performed at a number of public events, including Queen Elizabeth II's golden jubilee celebrations in 2002. A show to commemorate 100 years of J. M. Barrie's children's story Peter Pan was staged by the theatre company at the Albery Theatre, London in 2004, in order to raise funds for Great Ormond Street Hospital.
The first musical writers for Chicken Shed were Jo Collins and Anthony Filby, who together formed Colby music, through which they published a collection of musicals that Chicken Shed performed. The music team has since greatly expanded. In December 1997, Chicken Shed released a single, entitled "I Am In Love With The World", performed by children from the theatre. At bookmaker's odds of 4/1, the song was one of the contenders to become the UK Christmas number-one single. However it reached only #15 in the chart, remaining in the Top 75 for six weeks. The song was included on Diana Princess of Wales Tribute, a charity album recorded following the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. Diana had been the royal patron of the theatre along with Dame Judi Dench who is also a great supporter and it was one of her favourite charities.
Late 2003 saw the release of The Chicken Shed Album, a compilation that marked the 30th anniversary of the theatre company. Contributors to the album included supporters of the organisation, such as Cliff Richard, Emma Bunton, Bob Hoskins and Kenneth Branagh, as well as three tracks by Chicken Shed itself. Jo Collins & Chickenshed recorded a song, "Talk Through Me" for the 2007 show tunes album Over the Rainbow, in aid of The Association of Children's Hospices.
"Have A Heart At Christmas" (single, 1994)
- "Have A Heart At Christmas"
- "Rhapsody In Blue" (featuring Larry Adler)
- "I'll Build A Stairway To Paradise" (featuring Larry Adler & Issy van Randwyck)
"I Am In Love With The World" (single, 1997)
- "I Am In Love With the World"
- "Don't Know If I Believe In Christmas"
- "Little Tommy"
- "Chicken Menace"
The Chicken Shed Album (album, 2003)
- "Watch Me Come Alive" - Cliff Richard
- "As Far as the Eye Can See" - Gabrielle
- "I Am In Love With the World" - Chicken Shed
- "Sometimes" - Emma Bunton
- "The Wedding Dance" - Dmitry Sitkovetsky
- "Can I Love Him?" - Sam Brown
- "Bits and Pieces" - Bob Hoskins
- "Trail My Soul" - Chicken Shed
- "Looking For Love" - Richard O'Brien
- "Will It Happen To Me?" - Barbara Dickson
- "Elijah" - Kenneth Branagh
- "First Love" - Chicken Shed
- "Mad Little Sad Boy" - Kenneth Branagh
- "Still Waters" - Misty Oldland
- "We Need Each Other" - Elaine Paige
- "Dream a We Real Yew" - Kenneth Branagh
- "ShedLink". ChickenShed. Retrieved 2007-09-04.
- "Entertainment Theatre founder wins award". BBC News. 1999-05-18. Retrieved 2007-09-04.
- "Honours in the arts world". BBC News. 2001-12-31. Retrieved 2007-09-04.
- "Thousands parade for Queen". BBC News. 2002-06-04. Retrieved 2007-09-04.
- "Show marks 100 years of Peter Pan". BBC News. 2004-12-19. Retrieved 2007-09-04.
- "Girl power triumphs for second Christmas". BBC News. 1997-12-21. Retrieved 2007-09-04.
- Roberts, David (editor) (2005). British Hit Singles & Albums (18th edition ed.). Guinness World Records Limited. pp. p104. ISBN 1-904994-00-8.
- "Our History". ChickenShed. Retrieved 2007-09-04.