4 December 2022

Rachel’s Suffolk Theatre tour in Newmarket – at the Kings Theatre.

By Rachel Sloane
The Kings Theatre, Newmarket (image provided by Nomads)

I’ve been to several theatres created in old Victorian school buildings during my tour of Suffolk’s theatres. The Kings Theatre in Newmarket is another one and, just off the High Street, a new destination for me. It is the home of Nomads, Newmarket Operatic, Musical and Dramatic Society.

The 1850-built school closed in 1939 and was a wartime tearoom, then venue for clubs to meet.

The Kings Theatre website explains how it came to be the home of Nomads, 

“It was bought by Captain Herbert Ryder King (President of Nomads) in 1954 for the sum of £2,000…. At the time, Nomads was an itinerant company of players who lacked permanent premises.   Together with the Nomads of the day, Captain King donated a further £500 and set about turning the building into the theatre you see today.”

When Captain King died in 1971 he bequeathed the theatre to Nomads and, in 1972, it was re-named ‘Kings Theatre’ in honour of his generosity. 

Is this the smallest theatre in Suffolk? With just 123 seats, grants from the council and the National Lottery have enabled Nomads to create a very comfortable small venue, with tip-up seating, raking up from the stage.

Now a limited company and registered charity the theatre is run by Trustees but owned by Nomads and volunteers cover all the roles of the busy theatre.

Both the adult and junior Nomads perform there, and it is used by some outside productions and touring professional groups. 

In the compact entrance lobby is the box office, a coffee lounge, toilets and a bar.

There is a small car park in front of the theatre but a large public car park opposite. 


A Jolly Sparkly Jingly Christmas… by Newmarket Kids

Young Nomads programme

On a winter’s evening it was just over an hour’s drive to get to the theatre from my Felixstowe home, but the warmth of the welcome from the volunteer usher, and from the family and friends sitting near me, plus the blue sparkly stage, was a good start. 

Ready for the show to start

I had come to see 47 ‘Young Nomads’ performing their Christmas variety show with singing, dancing and jokes – and an extract from Christmas Carol too. 

The show was called A Jolly Sparkly Jingly Christmas and it was certainly that, with red and green costumes and lots of silver and sparkle. Young Nomads – junior and senior sections – combined some experienced and talented teenagers and some enthusiastic and confident younger members.

‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ (sung by Elsie Hagger and Bella Lackovic) and ‘ She’s the Brightest Star’ (sung by Martin Lock, Oscar Owen, Albert Wisbeach, Ted Piccaver and Harrison Butler- Jones) were highlights of the first half for me.  The very green Grinch, (Harry Beamond) and Cheeky Charlie (Charlie Hall) with his cracker jokes, were also very funny.

The ‘Dear Santa’ letters from various cast members were amusing, when we could hear them. The understandably limited number of microphones would have helped the younger members, while I am sure the older cast members could have belted out their excellent solos and duets songs without audio assistance. Some of the backing music could have been at lower volume too…. But this was the first night and perhaps such issues were sorted by the following two shows. The dances were well-rehearsed, and the pace of the show was very good, as items moved slickly from one to the next. 

For the second half of the evening the cast changed into Victorian costumes for some ‘Scrooge’ songs ,and more traditional Christmas songs and carols. The  Seniors harmonies in ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’ were especially well sung. 

The full company songs were all great fun and included ‘Sparkle and Shine’ the opening number and the finale ‘Walking in the Winter Wonderland.’

Congratulations to all the cast… and to the adults who help them have their moment in the spotlight. Memories formed, never to be forgotten, and some of the young people will certainly go on to be members of the Nomads – adult version.

A festive start to Christmas!