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Hattie Ladbury | Open Doors Fund

Hattie Ladbury

The late Hattie Ladbury was an active member of Stage 65 in her youth, before making acting her profession. Hattie even performed at Salisbury Playhouse several times in her career, her last performances with us were in a 2012 production of The Severn Year Itch.

In memory of Hattie, her love for the arts, Stage 65 and Salisbury Playhouse, her friends and family have asked for a donation page to be set up in her honour. All contributions will support our Open Doors Fund, providing equal access to the arts for those most disadvantaged in our community, supporting them with free tickets, free workshops, practical support and more.



Hattie Ladbury - an appreciation

“It is such a big thing for me to be at this theatre. It is where I grew up.”

The phone rang just before midnight. Hattie Ladbury was not expecting any one to call her at that time of night so she cautiously picked up the phone, The call was certainly a shock, but for Hattie it was a very pleasant shock and one that was to affect her acting career at the age of 22, in a very important way.

In 1996, Martin Connor was rehearsing a new musical, “Maddie” at Salisbury Playhouse and he had a very big problem. One of the original actors had dropped out after one day’s rehearsal and he needed an actor very quickly.

He remembered this young girl whom he had directed at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and how impressed he was of her. A student who achieved a first class honours and a gold medal for all-round achievement, so he decided to give her a ring. It was Hattie. With no hesitation she agreed to take the part and soon she was heading to the Playhouse where she started rehearsing the next morning!

Hattie had to turn down another part in a show at Harrogate but said: “I don’t mind, because it will be fun to come home to some home cooking and catching up with friends.”

She added: “My mother was thrilled - I think my parents were mentally prepared for months of unemployment!”

It was only a small part but she said that she learnt so much by watching the sterling cast that included Mark McGann, Summer Rognlie and Kevin Colson.

Hattie was born in Odstock hospital and grew up in Britford. She attended South Wilts Grammar School when she decided to join Stage 65 at the age of 10 as she wanted to follow her two older sisters. She once said: “At the time I wanted to do everything they did and I just got hooked, staying until I was 18. I had such a lovely time and it boosted my confidence. My friends from Salisbury were made at Stage 65 and we still meet up. It is so lovely.”

Hattie became an important member of Stage 65 and appeared in such productions as “West Side Story” where she played Maria and “Grease” where she played Sandy.

Mick Martin wrote of her performance in “Grease”: “Hattie Ladbury gives as complete a performance as you would wish to see. Her singing is both confident and sensitive. Her acting appears light and humorous but at the same time, capable of conveying the hurt that Sandy suffers and the uncertainty that she feels.”

There followed a period with Forest Forge where she continued to hone her skills working alongside such experienced local actors as Tim Treslove and Rebekah Janes. She remembered with affection performing in their production of “The Mayor of Casterbridge” where she played five different parts

One of her co-stars in “Grease” and a close friend, was Charlotte Longfield, with whom she was to appear again in “The Winslow Boy” on the main stage at a time in 2009 when her career was blossoming.

There’s was a great friendship, and Charlotte once said: “We were joined at the hip. We both went to school in Salisbury and both went to Stage 65 before going on to the Guildhall School of Music and Drama before launching our careers.

Of Hattie’s performance, Anne Morris in The Journal wrote: “Hattie Ladbury is perfectly cast as Catherine, recognised for her intelligence as a woman that fits in with her Suffragette ideals.”

Hattie came back to the Playhouse for two more plays: “The Game of Love and Chance” in March 2011 where she played Sylvia. Michael Coveney in The Independent wrote: Hattie Ladbury and Jo Herbert are nothing short of tremendous as Sylvia and Lisette, the first, playing the flutters and sweeps of a disguised, almost-aristocrat with iron-clad technique and delicious flair……”

And Jeremy Kingston in The Times wrote: “Hattie Ladbury’s excellent Sylvia gives a fine display of frenzy on the edge of tearing her apart, hands fluttering, head jerking, voice a cataract of confused emotion.”

Then a year later we saw her last performance in Salisbury, as Helen Sherman in “The Seven Year Itch.”

Lesley Bates wrote in The Stage: “There’s strong support from Hattie Ladbury as his neat-as-a-new-pin wife who can whip up a cherry pie one minute and play femme fatale to Michael Stevenson’s slightly oily writer the next.”

Cruelly and sadly though, there is no more, but Hattie will not be forgotten.. There will be many people in Salisbury and in particular at the Playhouse, who will remember with great affection a young actress whose talents shone through in all her performances. They will be grateful to have known her and many will be grateful to have performed with her. Certainly the Playhouse will always be proud that the Playhouse became an important part of her life and so pleased that a little 10 year old girl decided to follow her sisters and join Stage 65.…

Arthur Millie