Coordinates: The Wyvern Theatre in Swindon, Wiltshire is named after the mythical wyvern which was once the emblem of the Kings of Wessex. It was opened on 7 September 1971 by Her Majesty the Queen and His Royal Highness Prince Philip.
It is managed on behalf of Swindon Borough Council by Wyvern Theatre Ltd, a subsidiary of HQ Theatres Ltd. The Managing Director is Derek Aldridge, having taking over from the previous incumbent, Andrew Hill, on 1 June 2009. The auditorium has 635 seats, all designed to be within 70 ft from the stage.
It was designed in 1967 by Casson, Condor and Partner. The first performance was by the Ukrainian Dance Company.
Clear Channel Entertainment managed the venue for many years[when?] until 2005, when they lost the tender. The Wyvern was taken over by Wyvern Theatre Ltd, a subsidiary of Hetherington Seelig Theatres Ltd. on behalf of Swindon Borough Council.
On 3 September 2006 it closed temporarily after the discovery of traces of asbestos in the venue's offices and roof void during a routine inspection. It remained closed until September 2007 and the closure was used to refurbish the venue, bringing new decor, bars, cafés, disabled entrances and new seating costing £1.3m. The first performance afterwards was on 25 September 2007.
- 1971/1994 – Wyvern Arts Trust Ltd
- 1994/2001 – Apollo Leisure
- 2001/02 – SFX Venues
- 2002/05 – Clear Channel Entertainment
- 2005/07 – Hetherington Seelig Theatres Ltd
- From 2007: HQ Theatres, a joint venture between H.S.T Ltd and Qdos Entertainment
- 1971/72 – Dick Whittington
- 1972/73 – Cinderella
- 1973/74 – Dick Whittington
- 1974/75 – Aladdin
- 1975/76 – Mother Goose
- 1976/77 – Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
- 1977/78 – Babes in the Wood
- 1978/79 – Cinderella
- 1979/80 – Jack and the Beanstalk
- 1981/82 – Aladdin starring Bernie Winters
- 1983/84 – Babes in the Wood
- 1984/85 – Cinderella
- 1986/87 – Jack and the Beanstalk starring Johnny Ball
- 1987/88 – Babes in the Wood
- 1988/89 – Jack and the Beanstalk
- 1989/90 – Mother Goose – Starring Adam Woodyatt (EastEnders' Ian Beale) as Billy
- 1990/91 – Aladdin – Starring Floella Benjamin (BBC TV's Play School) as Aladdin and Bobby Gee (Bucks Fizz)
- 1991/92 – Cinderella – Starring Matthew Kelly (ITV's You Bet! & Stars in Their Eyes) as Buttons
- 1992/93 – Jack and the Beanstalk – Starring Trevor Bannister (Mr Lucas from BBC TV's Are You Being Served?)
- 1993/94 – Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs – Starring Brian Hibbard (ITV's Making Out & Coronation Street) as the Henchman
- 1994/95 – Dick Whittington – Starring Jimmy Cricket
- 1995/96 – Aladdin – Starring Timmy Mallett (ITV's Wacaday, Wide Awake Club) as Aladdin
- 1996/97 – Cinderella – Starring Jess Conrad as Prince Charming and Bernie Clifton as Buttons
- 1997/98 – Babes in the Wood – (Charles Vance Productions) Starring Paul Leyshon (Hollyoaks, Cavegirl) as Robin Hood, Hugo Myatt (ITV's Knightmare) as the Sheriff of Nottingham and the Roly Polys as the Merry Men
- 1998/99 – Jack and the Beanstalk – (Charles Vance Productions) Starring Colin Baker (Doctor Who, The Brothers) as Dame Durden. With Rod, Jane and Freddy (ITV's Rainbow)
- 1999/2000 – Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs – (Charles Vance Productions) Starring Jacinta Stapleton (Neighbours' Amy Greenwood) as Snow White and Paul Ladlow as the Wicked Queen. Also featured Mike McCabe and Sandy Martin (BBC Radio Swindon).
- 2000/1 – Aladdin – (Charles Vance Productions) Starring Aleetza Wood (Home and Away's Peta Janossi) as Aladdin, Geoffrey Hinsliff (Coronation Street's Don Brennan) as Widow Twanky, Bobby Dazzler as Wishee Washee and Juliette Kaplan (Last of the Summer Wine's Pearl) as the Empress of China. Also featured Tweedy & Alexis as Ping and Pong.
- 2001/2 – Cinderella starring Emma Willis (Cinderella), Bernie Clifton (Buttons), Pollyann Tanner (Dandini), Paul Mead (Baron Hardup)
- 2002/3 – Dick Whittington starring Geoffrey Hayes (Simple Simon), Pollyann Tanner (Dick), Hugo Myatt (King Rat), Colin Baker (Sarah the Cook).
- 2003/4 – Goldilocks and the Three Bears starring Vicky Binns (Goldilocks), Howard Taylor (Ringmaster), Ross Davidson (Dame Dolly), Amanda Sandow, Alfie the Alligator and Willy Wyvern
- 2004/5 – Jack and the Beanstalk starring Juliette Kaplan (Fairy), Paul Bradley (Fleshcreep), Jo Martell (Jill), Daniel Boys (Jack)
- 2005/6 – Peter Pan starring Steven Pinder (Captain Hook), Daniel Boys (Peter Pan), Jonah Cook (John Darling), Aaron Jenkins (Michael Darling).
- 2007/8 – Cinderella starring Britt Ekland (Fairy Godmother) and Tequila her Chihuahua
- 2008/9 – Aladdin starring Shaun Williamson (Abanazar), Neal Andrews (Wishee Washee)
- 2009/10 – Sleeping Beauty starring Lorraine Chase (Carabosse), Ceri-Lyn Cissone (Sleeping Beauty), Edd Post (Prince Harry)
- 2010/11 – Peter Pan starring Paul Nicholas (Captain Hook), Richard Vincent (Peter Pan), Pearce Barron (John Darling), Thomas Snowball (Michael Darling)
- 2011/12 – Cinderella starring Keith Chegwin (Buttons), Saskia Strallen (Cinderella), Adam King (Prince Charming), Alex Young (Fairy Godmother)
- 2012/13 – Aladdin starring Keith Chegwin (Wishee Washee), Suzie Chard (Genie), David Ashley (Abanazar)
Curtain Fells On A Charmer
From the Swindon Advertiser, first published Monday 7 March 2005.
The man who greeted the stars for 34 years has marked his retirement with style. Derek McCarthy began working at the Wyvern Theatre only a fortnight after it opened in 1971. As stage doorman he was responsible for meeting and greeting the actors and actresses and showing them to the dressing rooms.
Among the stars he met during his time at the theatre were Ken Dodd, Danny La Rue and Maggie and John Larsen. Derek, 79, of Queensfield in Kingsdown, origin-ally worked as a railway clerk in Swindon. He said: "I was made redundant and then they found me a job as a clerk at Paddington Station. "I would come back to Swindon in the evening and go straight to the Wyvern, change my clothes and carry on working. "I met Ken Dodd through working there. I got on with him very well. He was good for a laugh." At first Derek worked backstage but later became stage doorman. He said: "I had to speak to them all backstage. As stage doorman I booked them in, greeted them and gave them a dressing room."Nick Shaw, the theatre's general manager, is sad to see him go. He said: "Derek is one of those larger than life characters you can only find in a theatre. "He was kind and helpful and well loved by people who came to visit the theatre, especially amateurs. "He's one of those people who actually wanted to be at work. He was genuinely part of the fabric of the building and certainly made my life a lot easier." Mr Shaw said that talking to Derek was so interesting it would often distract him from his own work. He said: "It was easy to sit and talk to Derek for hours because I would learn so much about Swindon, its people and this building. He genuinely is a font of information. He tells stories with a unique turn of phrase."
Summer Youth Project
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- 1994 – Bugsy Malone
- 1995 – Annie
- 1996 – 42nd Street
- 1997 – My Fair Lady
- 1998 – Oliver!
- 1999 – Me and My Girl
- 2000 – Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
- 2001 – Crazy for You
- 2002 – West Side Story
- 2003 – Fame
- 2004 – The Sound of Music
- 2005 – Guys and Dolls
- 2006 – Annie
- 2007 – No show due to temporary closure
- 2008 – Oliver!
- 2009 – Boogie Nights
- 2010 – The Wizard of Oz
- 2011 – Anything Goes
- 2012 – West Side Story 
- 2013 - Our House - The Madness Musical
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The Wyvern Theatre has its very own mascot in the form of a 6 ft high green dragon-like creature known as Willy the Wyvern.
Willy the Wyvern became the theatre's mascot in its founding years but faded into obscurity for over two decades. In 2001 Willy returned to the theatre in time to celebrate its 30th anniversary. He also featured in the 2013 Summer Youth Project as a mascot character in the performance.
- Meet the new boss of the Wyvern Theatre – Swindonadvertiser.co.uk
- About Us – Wyverntheatre.org.uk
- Theatre marks a dramatic 40 years – Swindonadvertiser.co.uk
- "Theatre opens for public viewings". BBC News. 22 September 2007. Retrieved 22 September 2007.
- Panto changes to Aladdin – but Chegwin's still star of the show – Swindonadvertiser.co.uk
- Suzie Chard to star alongside Keith Chegwin in panto – Swindonadvertiser.co.uk
- David Ashley Set for Wyvern Theatre's ALADDIN this Christmas, Swindon – westend.broadway.com
- Summer Youth Project to perform West Side Story – Swindonadvertiser.co.uk