Time flies when you’re having fun, and we’ve been having plenty since our grand re-opening!
In October 2021, we flung open our doors to eager audiences as Fisherman’s Friends: The Musical made its world premiere on our stage, and marked the beginning of a new era for the Cornwall Playhouse.
As we look back on that time when the stage fell silent while we worked hard behind the scenes, it seems like only yesterday that our auditorium swapped out audiences for workmen, and the sound of music for the sound of drilling… but it was all worth it in the end!
And after that quiet time (that lasted a little longer than we’d hoped because of a worldwide pandemic), we welcomed you back into the Cornwall Playhouse to celebrate more than just our transformation, but the joy of being together again.
As audiences filed in with audible gasps and words of praise for the newly improved Hall for Cornwall, the evening continued to be filled with surprises, as Fisherman’s Friends: The Musical took to the stage – and the real Fisherman’s Friends joined them for the final song! This was a monumental moment for us all, as this was our first Cornwall Playhouse production, and a co-production with ROYO.
‘Every night the audience was packed and on their feet and singing, it was the most extraordinary experience, and this just brings it back.’
– Robert Duncan who plays Jago reminisces of the first tour
After a sellout world tour, we welcomed the return of this feel-good, life affirming story to our stage again in April 2023, to the delight of Cornish folk everywhere!
Let’s take a look back on the day Fisherman’s Friends: The Musical came home to Cornwall, 18 months after its debut performance at the newly renovated Hall for Cornwall.
Tuesday 11th April…
The celebrations began in our local pub, The Old Ale House, where some of the cast met the Fisherman’s Friends band for a drink and a sing-along – much to the surprise of locals popping in for a pint!
BBC Spotlight joined in with the occasion and interviewed some of the cast while they were there, which you can watch below…
Afterwards, the cast went back to their dressing rooms to prepare for opening night. And what a night it was!
As our audience welcomed the return home of this beautifully Cornish production, our auditorium was filled with laughter, tears, and cast-iron sense of community.
Whether you know the music, you’ve seen the films, or this is your first time ever hearing a shanty, you can’t help but be moved. There’s something magical about the way the songs have been passed down from generation to generation. The words transport you through time, like a lyrical history book, reminding you of the hardworking communites that form the backbone of Cornwall’s history – and continue to thrive today!
As the storyline explores the challenges of the modern world to fisherfolk and our small seaside villages, there is a constant reminder that we have something in Cornwall that nobody can take away. Our communities are more like families, and no matter how much time goes by, you’ll always find us, singing our stories, in a village by the sea.
‘When I’m not here, it’s Hereth, that longing for the place where you belong.’
– Susan Penhaligon who plays Maggie
With each song, the words had us floating across timezones and generations, like a lyrical history book, bearing witness to the hardworking communities that form the backbone of Cornwall. We could hear our ancestors singing their hearts out, out on the waves as they raised their nets, and deep underground, carving their tools into the earth, searching for copper and tin. These songs keep them alive, and remind us of where we came from.
And of course – there were a few Oggy Oggy Oggy’s!
The evening drew to a close when the Fisherman’s Friends band took to the stage in a special appearance. Their beautiful, sping-tingling rendition of Cornwall My Home made us proud to be Cornish 〓〓
‘One of the reasons I’m doing this is to play the Hall for Cornwall… I think they just get it, they get the jokes, they get the accents, they get the expressions…they just get it all.’
– Susan Penhaligon
Thank you to the cast and crew of Fisherman’s Friends: The Musical for another spectacular production, and to the real Fisherman’s Friends for inspiring so many with their story.
And above all, thank you to you, our devoted audiences, for reminding us time and time again of the joy of live performance.
Photos by Hugh Hastings Photography