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20 Years of Excellence: The Ambassadors, Woking

Approved by ATG's PR & Communications Officer, David Bradbury

2012 marks the 20th anniversary for the Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG) which was co-founded by Howard Panter and Rosemary Squire. Over the past 20 years ATG has grown to become the largest owner / operator of theatres in the UK with 39 venues, an internationally recognised theatre producer and a leader in theatre ticketing services through ATG Tickets. As the very first regional venue, The Ambassadors, Woking comprising of the New Victoria Theatre, Rhoda McGaw Theatre and award-winning cinema complex, The Ambassadors Cinemas joins in the celebration.

Rosemary Squire, ATG’s Joint Chief Executive, said, 'In this momentous year of honouring the ‘best of British’, it seems very fitting that ATG is celebrating its 20th anniversary and as the very first regional venue of ATG, The Ambassadors, Woking, shares in this landmark occasion. Our objective has always been to bring the highest quality and variety of shows to Surrey and the surrounding area and we reflect with pleasure on all that has been achieved in the past 20 years. Our audiences have embraced this venue and we’d like to thank them for their continued support and loyalty. As ATG continues to grow, I look forward to sharing with you another 20 years of excellence.'

The New Victoria Theatre was opened by Oliver award-winning actor Sir Nigel Hawthorne on June 9 1992. Speaking of the theatre in 1992, Sir Nigel Hawthorne said, 'For ballet, opera, musicals or intimate plays, it’s perfect. I’ve looked at this new theatre as an actor and it has everything you could possibly want. Woking is very, very fortunate.' The theatre was launched with Christopher Gable’s production of Swan Lake from Northern Ballet Theatre, a company, now known as Northern Ballet, who have gone on to become an annual visitor with a string of unique and successful productions.

Throughout the past two decades, the New Victoria Theatre has become one of the most successful touring venues in the UK presenting pre and post West End runs. The very first season included plays such as Death and the Maiden and An Ideal Husband, comedy with Ruby Wax in Wax Acts and entertainment legend Des O’Connor, starred in the very first pantomime Cinderella.

This tradition of showcasing the very best in entertainment has continued throughout the years. Boasting one of the largest and deepest stages in the area, the theatre is an ideal venue to host and experience large-scale musicals, dance productions and operas. Shows such as Spamalot, Top Hat, West Side Story, Midnight Tango, Hairspray, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Grease and Evita have all enjoyed sell out performances and returned on numerous occasions due to phenomenal public demand.

The reputation of the venue has meant world renowned theatre companies have graced the stage with Glyndebourne, National Theatre and English National Ballet all regular visitors enjoying great acclaim from both audiences and critics. The visits of dance companies such as Northern Ballet, Rambert, Richard Alston, Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures and the triumphant Woking Dance Umbrella 1995, the theatre’s first dance festival consolidated the theatre’s position as a leading dance venue.

The Rhoda McGaw Theatre opened in the Centre Halls in the 1970s and following a redevelopment of the town at the end of the 1980s, with the creation of the Peacocks Centre it was incorporated within The Ambassadors, Woking. The 228 seat theatre operates as a community performance space jointly managed by Woking Borough Council and The Ambassadors, Woking. The theatre allows community groups and societies, with a varied programme of entertainment and events to perform musical theatre, drama, dance and youth productions and holds the annual festival, Woking Drama Association.

The Ambassadors Cinemas have seen some marked changes throughout the last twenty years, built around the already existing Rhoda McGaw Theatre, it has grown from a small three screen cinema to a large independent six screen complex offering all the latest films on state of the art equipment. Officially opened by film legend John Malkovich in 1992, the upgrade took place in 1997 with three further screens enabling a complex of the highest standard for those in Woking and the surrounding areas. Beating all the larger chains including the Odeon, Vue, Cineworld, the Ambassadors Cinemas projection team have been accredited as the top department in the country 2011, awarded by the prestigious British Kinematograph, Sound and Television Society (BKSTS). With last year’s award following on from the Ambassadors Cinemas winning the renowned UK Independent Cinema of the Year Award 2009 at the RAAM awards.

With yet another stellar season of outstanding productions for all to enjoy at the New Victoria Theatre and The Ambassadors Cinemas screens going fully digital this Summer – The Ambassadors, Woking promises you the very best in entertainment.

To find out what’s on and to book tickets call our Box Office on 0844 871 7645*, Ambassadors Cinemas Line 0844 871 7643* or visit the website www.ambassadortickets.com/woking.

Anyone looking to book more than 10 tickets can benefit from group booking discounts and these can be secured by calling the Groups Booking Hotline on 0844 871 7601.