Sidmouth Theatre community tributes to Charles Vance

shs Charles Vance

shs Charles Vance - Credit: Archant

Tributes have continued to flood in for the “irreplaceable” theatre visionary Charles Vance following his death last week.

The sad news came just days after the Charles Vance Repertory Company announced that it would be leaving Sidmouth’s Manor Pavilion after 26 years.

Vernon Thompson was involved with the company longer than anyone outside the family and started his career after visiting the Manor Pavilion to get some work experience.

He said: “Charles’ first words to me were ‘What a cheek – fancy asking a theatre manager straight out for a job!’

“Then he leant towards me and said ‘Well done my boy. That is exactly how I started in the business. You begin on Monday’.


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“Today’s theatre just does not breed characters like Charles Vance.”

Pat Brackenbury and Jane Bennett also got into threatre through Charles.

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Pat said: “Charles and Imogen Vance shaped my professional life hugely.

“Charles was always demanding, of himself and his company.

“He was a compelling presence anywhere, refusing to be ignored, and his passion for theatre was remarkable and infectious.”

Jane said she once played opposite Charles in a play and he still remembered his lines when they met again 30 years later.

She added: “He was irreplaceable, formidable, eccentric and charismatic - if you went into a room, you’d always know who Charles was,” she said.

Pam Eaves, chairman of Sidmouth Amateur Dramatics Society (SADS), said of the company leaving the Manor Pavilion: “They brought people a lot of pleasure, and I know some people came down just to see their performances.”

The company gave SADS members the chance to appear in a professional performance, which Pam said may not continue with whoever takes over.

She added: “We don’t know if we will have that opportunity again but I know the Manor Pavilion will continue to entertain the public, and I wish them well.”

Roger Simmonds, who has been watching repertory performances at the Manor Pavilion since 1979 and reviewing them for the Herald for seven years, said:

“As someone who’s seen most of their performances, I’m extremely sad to see them go – they’re going to be a tough act to follow.”

“It’s a miracle that any company can put on a performance one week and start again from scratch for the next.”

He added that the actors James Pellow, Janette Froud and Jane Bennett would be particularly missed.

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