Events Live Performance Music Truro

Our returning friends, the hugely popular ELO Experience…

So synonymous with their late 1970s hit singles have the mighty Electric Light Orchestra become that its surprising to recall that they’d emerged out of Birmingham right at the start of that decade, born from the ashes of psychedelic popsters The Move. Principal songwriter and frontman Jeff Lynne’s catchy tunes, coupled with his ‘big hair and sunglasses’ look, came to be the instantly recognisable sound and face of the band, but the early line-up saw Lynne and legendary ‘ELO’ drummer Bev Bevan joined by their fellow Move-departee Roy Wood, a larger-than-life character who’d soon, well, move on again and become forever famous as the glitter-and-sparkles leader of  ‘See My Baby Jive’ glam rockers Wizzard. 


Our returning friends, the hugely popular ELO Experience, delve into a particularly rich back catalogue. ELO themselves might be particularly remembered for the breathless effervescence of the classic Mr Blue Sky, with original fans having a wry grin at its 7” blue vinyl single, with its charming run-out exhortation to ‘please turn me over’, a message lost on the musical streaming generation but a helpful reminder to flip the disc and hear the likely more experimental B-side back in the day. But there’s a whole host of genius songs to celebrate. Livin’ Thing, Telephone Line, Turn To Stone, Rockaria, Don’t Bring Me Down… they still sound fabulous to this day! 

We always feel that’s what these evenings in the Cornwall Playhouse do as part of keeping popular music alive in a live environment, as it were, a continuous rejoicing in the cross-generational appeal of the great singles and hit-packed LPs of yore. And in this instance, we’re celebrating the music of a band that itself cherished the sound of those who came before them. It’s said that the initial idea of ELO, that fusion of cello, violin and woodwind with contemporary rock, came from Roy Wood, but it was Lynne who ran with it for much of the band’s history, melding strings and horns on the stage with a love for The Beatles and The Beach Boys worn on his sleeve. Indeed, it became almost a cliché to ponder whether ELO were the band that The Beatles might have become had they continued into the 70s, while the surf rock influence of Brian Wilson and Van Dyke Parks’ seminal ‘Heroes and Villains’ is evident on ELO’s classic Out of The Blue album track Across The Border.  

 In these blogs, we love to remind long-time music fans of gigs they might have seen way back when, here in the days of Truro City Hall or elsewhere across Cornwall’s venues, and indeed some digging around finds ELO in our own much-loved building on 19 July 1973 as part of a mini-tour jaunt around the west country – let us know if you remember that one! And if your concert-going memory stretches further back, tell us about The Move (with Roy Wood and Bev Bevan, but pre-Jeff Lynne) playing Redruth’s Flamingo Club in August ’67… we’d be thrilled to hear about those shows! 

Eventually Lynne and ELO eschewed that famous symphonic sound for the straighter soft rock of the sci-fi concept album Time, a different beast from their A New World Record, Out of the Blue, and Discovery peak, but a new direction, at the time, that has also worn-well over the years. Let’s join the ELO Experience in keeping these wonderful tunes reverberating around our auditorium, for the music ages like a fine wine and never grows old. 

Written by Ian Abrahams

Music Theatre


Just when you thought we were done announcing shows, we go and do this…

Musicals, comedy, and classical concerts to knock your socks off… The best of the West End is on route to the Cornwall Playhouse!


Kicking off the stellar line-up is Take That’s Greatest Days. Formerly known as The Band and written by Tim Firth (who brought Gary Barlow to Hall for Cornwall in 2022), the musical follows five Take That obsessed friends in the 1990s, who reunite over 20 years later to see their favourite band one last time. Celebrating the 30th Anniversary of Take That’s first ever UK Number 1 single Pray, this heart-warming and hilarious story of love, loss and laughter coincides with the Summer 2023 release of the official movie inspired by this musical.

Timeless love story The Bodyguard is next on the agenda starring Pussycat Doll Melody Thornton as Rachel Marron. Rediscover this classic with an irresistible soundtrack and a thrilling love story.

Immerse yourself in the complex tale of The Everly Brothers with Walk Right Back a concert-based musical tribute featuring their greatest hits.

Finally for musicals, That’ll Be the Day returns to Truro with their toe-tapping Rock ‘n’ Roll show, taking you on a journey from the 50s to 80s, with uncanny impressions of your favourite stars.

Live Music Highlights

2023 brings a jam-packed schedule of classical talent, opera, and live music favourites to the Cornwall Playhouse stage.

Enjoy orchestral music with some of the UK’s finest ensembles as London Mozart Players, Carousel Chamber Music Ensemble, and Manchester Camerata visit, following the success of the BBC Proms concert in 2022.

Welsh National Opera present Leonard Bernstein’s Candide, a thrilling tale spiralling from 18th-century France into 20th-century post-war America. Sit tight through a fantastical and chaotic world of castles, skyscrapers, earthquakes, and Amazonian jungles, where societies are rife with inequality and families displaced by war. Combining the best of Broadway with classical Opera, dance and animation, this story remains as relevant now as when it was first written in 1759.

Rediscover the timeless and hilarious light opera The Mikado. Originally set in Japan, Sasha Regan’s all-male remake stages this complex love story in Soho, London in the 1970’s.

Rock legends Hawkwind bring their legendary brand of rock to Truro.

And that wasn’t enough, experience a sensational line-up of live music from brass favourites Black Dyke Band, Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, and the best of the UK’s tribute acts, as they perform memorable songs from Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd, Neil Diamond, Luther Vandross, Bruce Springsteen and ELO, plus Lost in Music – a sensational live disco covering hits from the 70s.

Family Highlights

There’s plenty to do for young theatregoers in 2023 too. Having already announced Peter Pan as our 2023 Christmas show (it’s never too early to start planning!) plus the already-announced Fireman Sam and Hey Duggee is Dragons and Mythical Beasts.

From the makes of Dinosaur World Live, enter a magical world with this brand-new interactive show for all the family! Unravel dark secrets and come face to face with magnificent monsters, unique unicorns, and familiar favourites like the Tooth Fairy. Just beware of the dragon…


See the star of the UK’s most streamed Netflix comedy of 2021 as Jimmy Carr: Terribly Funny 2.0 arrives on our stage. Be warned, it’s not a show for the faint hearted.

Documentary and Spoken Word

Following his 2022 sell-out tour, Steve Backshall’s ‘Ocean’ explores the mysteries of the deep and our connection with this underwater world.

Alan Fletcher, the star of TV hit Neighbours, reflects on his time as Ramsay Street’s most famous doctor, Karl Kennedy, in his intimate live show: The Doctor Will See You Now.


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219 youngsters explore amazing Tin Forest at Illogan School

Illogan School was transformed into an amazing Tin Forest with exotic trees and flowers, tree frogs, toucans and tigers– thanks to a partnership between the school and Hall For Cornwall.A chance meeting between Headteacher Jo Knuckey and HFC’s Arts Development Director Helen Tiplady led to all 219 pupils being involved in a very special play with a strong
environmental message based on author Helen Ward’s bestselling children’s book The Tin
Forest.The book tells the story of an old man living in a small house in the middle of nowhere
surrounded by mountains of rubbish thrown away by people who can’t be bothered to recycle. At night, he dreams of a place with brightly coloured flowers, birds and animals. Waking one morning he decides to create a forest of metal trees and plants from the rubbish lying all around him. This is then transformed into a beautiful place with real trees, flowers and
animals following an initial visit from a toucan that drops seeds from its beak onto the ground.“Earlier this year the children took part in a single-use plastic free day which really captured their imaginations and got them thinking about waste and the importance of recycling “ said Jo Knuckey. I wanted to build on this enthusiasm and so decided to use an environmental theme for our end of term performance. The clear message contained in this book made it a perfect choice”.

This is Jo’s first year as Headteacher and she wanted to ensure that all the pupils had the
opportunity to be involved in the end of year performance. “With more than 200 children in the school this was an ambitious aim and I was delighted when I met Helen and she agreed to come on board with some of the HFC staff to help us pull it all

“The result has been an incredible experience which has supported staff to create our first ever whole school performance piece and has brought out the confidence of the children, some of whom were nervous at the beginning but were loving every minute by the time of the first performance. “

“This project has given the children of Illogan school memories that will last a life-time”.

As well as running a number of youth companies for young actors and dancers, Hall For
Cornwall’s Arts Development team also work with schools and community groups on a range of amazing dance and drama projects.

Arts Development Director Helen Tiplady leapt at the opportunity to work with an entire school and, with financial support from the Chartered Accountants’ Livery Charity, worked with colleagues Kim Healy, Sean Sweeney, Richard Healey and Simon Harvey, artists
Alessandra Ausenda, Amanda Lorens and Keith Sparrow and enthusiastic staff and pupils from Illogan School to bring the book to life. Also helping out was Myah Smith, a Year 10 student from Launceston College who was on a work experience placement with Hall For Cornwall.

Waste company Biffa and parents provided the school with a selection of waste materials to create their imaginary Tin Forest, with making company In the Bellows, which provided
puppets for the recent successful London production of Benjamin Button, creating a puppet of the Old Man character .

Following five days of writing scripts, learning lines, composing special music and intensive rehearsals, and many hours spent creating props and covering walls with tin foil and old
newspapers from the Scrapstore, the cast proudly performed their special play in front of an enthralled audience of over 300 people from the local community.

Described as a promenade piece, the play saw the cast walk the audience through the whole school building – from the mock rubbish dump at the entrance where children carelessly threw rubbish on the ground; through the main hall transformed into a forest with tin foil, to the four classroom installations depicting the rubbish room, the recycling machine, the sifting and
sorting room and the dream room, back to the main hall – the “heart” where the tin forest is transformed into a real forest with colourful trees, flowers and animals and then outside to the old Man’s house which was set in the beautiful meadow at Illogan School.

“This has been a fantastic project to work on “said Helen Tiplady. “From the Year 5
pupils who wrote the script and the Year 6 pupils who acted as narrators, to the
children who brought the story to life with their energy and enthusiasm and the teaching staff who helped make the props – everyone has worked so hard at the same time as having fun“.

One of the youngsters involved in the production was Year 5 pupil Cadan who had speaking parts as well as writing one of the music tracks played in one of the classroom installations. Speaking before the first performance he admitted he was feeling a little nervous but was very excited about his Mum and Dad watching him perform. “I have felt a bit of pressure” he said “but am really looking forward to taking part”.

Audience members were full of praise for the performance of all the children taking part and welcomed the play’s strong environmental message.

Gabriel Chavigny de Lachevrotiere, the proud Dad of Year 6 pupil Sophia, said “I am very proud of Sophia and all the children who have taken part. It is great to see the whole school get involved. It is also good that the younger generation are being
taught about pollution, global warming and climate in this way. If our generation had been taught these messages then we would not be in the position we are in

Laura Buffery -Martin, mum of Year 1 pupil Rufus also thoroughly enjoyed the performance. “I was blown away “she said. “The whole thing was amazing and I felt very
emotional “.

Helen Tiplady is delighted with the success of the Illogan School project and is looking
forward to working with other schools across Cornwall to help them deliver immersive work which supports their curriculum development.

“Research shows that creative arts play an important role in helping children
express themselves and develop their confidence, “she said. “They can also help schools deliver key areas of the curriculum by bringing complex subjects to life in a way which interests and engages pupils.”

For further information about the work of Hall For Cornwall’s Arts Development team please contact [email protected]


City Hall Community Heritage Stories History Music Theatre Truro

‘A Cobra and Basket’: Truro Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society and City Hall

‘A Cobra and Basket’: Truro Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society and City Hall

By Kate Neale

In 1961, the Secretary of the Truro Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society received a letter from London confirming an order of a cobra and basket to be delivered to City Hall. A curious order! But apparently, not an unusual one in the day-to-day running of an ambitious local theatre group.

First formed in 1912, the Society performed in different venues in Truro before settling at City Hall for many of their shows. Originally performing Gilbert and Sullivan operas such as The Pirates of Penzance and Ruddigore, after 1929 the group mainly opted to perform more modern musicals such as Oklahoma!, My Fair Lady and South Pacific.

In 1961 the Society performed Kismet as its fiftieth anniversary show. Kismet originally premiered in 1953 in Los Angeles, before being performed in San Francisco and then at the Stoll Theatre in London’s West End. The story is set in an imagined historic Baghdad, and follows the adventures of a wily poet, and the love affairs of his daughter. The Society’s production at City Hall included a cast of over 40 main performers, additional dancers, and a 24 piece orchestra.

Archive material held at the Cornwall Record Office shows what an undertaking putting on a show such as Kismet could be. The Society arranged for band parts from theatre company Samuel French, scenery and props to be delivered to Truro train station, and of course the cobra and basket from a stage production company in London!

The fiftieth jubilee was an opportunity to showcase the Society, and the Mayor and Mayoress of Truro were invited to attend the performance.  It was also an apt moment for the Society to reflect on its own history; a large souvenir programme, printed by Truro firm Netherton and Worth, included snippets and stories of performances from past years. Former and life members of the society were warmly welcomed back to celebrate the Society’s ongoing work.

City Hall and Hall for Cornwall has been an important venue for Truro Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society over the course of its history. We hope that in its new form, our theatre will continue to be a hub for local creativity for years to come!