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The undisputed Queen of the British stage is backing the open air play season at Lytham Hall.

Dame Judi Dench has taken the time to send her good wishes to the casts and organisers of the four-play season which opens on Sunday June 14 with Chapterhouse Theatre Company’s production of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre.

Judi Dench is currently filming as Cecily, Duchess of York opposite Benedict Cumberbatch as Richard III in the BBC’s Hollow Crown series, but has been pleased to send a message of support through her personal assistant Sue Jennings, in response to a request from Lytham Hall theatre organiser Julian Wilde.

“It is with great pleasure that I send my best wishes to everyone involved with the open air theatre season at Lytham Hall.

I have very fond memories myself of directing open air productions of Romeo and Juliet and The Boys from Syracuse at the open air theatre in Regent’s Park in London. Any Shakespeare play and any outdoor production is a challenging experience – not least of which was coping with airplanes flying overhead every two minutes,” she writes.

Dame Judi, 80, has won every honour the stage and screen can bestow, including an Oscar for her role as Queen Elizabeth I in the 1998 film Shakespeare in Love. She was invested as a Dame by the Queen in 1988.

Oliver Gray, the artistic director of Illyria, has been cheered by the special endorsement of Judi Dench for his company, as his cast go in to rehearsals for The Taming of the Shrew which comes to Lytham Hall on Sunday July 5.

Dame Judi writes, “This summer Illyria will also be relishing the demanding opportunity to present The Taming of the Shrew with a small cast in the open air throughout the length and breadth of the country. I hope that their summer tour will go well in warm and sunny weather.

The programme of four outdoor plays at Lytham Hall is an excellent initiative and I wish you all, actors and audiences alike, every success for the open air season”.

Julian Wilde feels that it is a very warm-hearted reply from an actress whose status means that she is constantly in demand.

“It’s very heartening, prior to our first play of the season to have the interest and support of Dame Judi Dench. She played Mrs. Fairfax in the 2011 film version of Jane Eyre and so the Chapterhouse cast are very thrilled with her interest.

In recent years they have established their reputation in Lytham with first class performances of period costume dramas such as Emma and Pride and Prejudice, so I am sure they will be keen to impress again with Jane Eyre.

We could not have asked for backing from a more distinguished international actress and her encouragement will help us to make a memorable start to our summer programme. ”

Tickets at £13, with concessions at £10/£6.50, are on sale now on line from and and locally from Lytham Hall phone 01253 736652: Plackitt and Booth, Booksellers, Lytham 796958: Lowther Pavilion 794221: Stringers Homelife, 740700: Bennetts Bakers, Ansdell 736318: Storytellers Inc., St. Annes 781690: Silverdell Books Kirkham 01 772 683444

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