World quality theatre
Our mission is to bring audiences in Kent the very best in live performances from some of the world's greatest companies.
Since the opening of our new theatre we have established partnerships with many of our country's finest performing arts companies.
Every autumn, Glyndebourne bring world-class opera to our theatre as part of their annual Tour, realising one of the original ambitions behind the building of our theatre. The companies’ requirements (for example a very large pit for their orchestra) were factored into the building's design at an early stage.
The National Theatre
Our relationship with the National Theatre, which has seen us host shows like One Man Two Guvnors and The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time, led to us being chosen to launch the national tour of War Horse in September 2017. This was especially pleasing to War Horse author Michael Morpurgo, whose parents fell in love while working at the original Marlowe Theatre in St Margaret’s Street. The Marlowe Theatre's Creative Projects team also collaborate each year with the National Theatre on the Connections Festival, which sees youth theatre's from across the county come to Canterbury to perform productions of new plays.
The Royal Shakespeare Company
As well as hosting the RSC's national tours, such as of Henry IV, we are also a partner in their Learning and Participation Network (LPN), which has involved working closely with local schools.
Both of these strands of our relationship came together in their 2016 production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, conceived to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's birth and death. This unique production featured local amateur actors from The Canterbury Players and children from one of our LPN partner schools performing alongside a professional cast.
Matthew Bourne's New Adventures
As well as regularly bringing us stunning dance productions such as The Car Man, Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake, Sir Matthew Bourne's company also helped us to add dance to the range of participation groups we offer to our local community. Our dance classes have their foundation in those created to train local boys for roles in his dance adaptation of Lord Of The Flies. They've since been extended to include girls, and across a wider age range. (For more information on our dance classes, visit our Be Creative section).
The Philharmonia Orchestra
The Philharmonia's annual season, consisting of six concerts, allows us to bring world-class classical music to Canterbury. As well as rising stars of the classical world, well-known performers like conductor Vladimir Ashkenazy and violinist Tamsin Little have appeared at our theatre with the Philharmonia Orchestra.
Another company who return to us every year are Northern Ballet, who have brought us both well-known classical works like Romeo And Juliet and new ballets, including their acclaimed version of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby.
The Best Of The West End
From the very opening of our new theatre - with a production of Top Hat - we have always attracted the very best large-scale shows to our theatre. West End shows which we've brought to our audiences have included Shrek The Musical, The Jersey Boys, Dirty Dancing, The Bodyguard and Mamma Mia! to name but a few.
Music And Comedy
We also aim to offer our audiences the best in comedy and music gigs. Our music offering has ranged from CeeLo Green to Kate Rusby, via Elvis Costello, Billy Ocean and The Hollies.
For comedy, we've hosted the likes of Dara O'Brien, Alan Davies and Sarah Millican in the main auditorium, whilst the studio is home to our popular Marlowe Comedy Club and Alternative Comedy shows, as well as up-and-coming comedians and more established names doing work-in-progress gigs.