Theatre director Charles Vance dies, aged 83

Charles Vance and his daughter Jackie, a Queen's Guide, in 1976

Charles Vance and his daughter Jackie, a Queen's Guide, in 1976 - Credit: Archant

FAMILY of theatre impresario Charles Vance say they have been moved by the response to news of his death, and told the Herald: “He touched more lives than we ever realised.”

Loved-ones of “larger than life” Charles, 83, who died peacefully in his sleep in hospital on Sunday night following a chest infection, have received tributes from across the country.

His daughter Jackie described the support as “overwhelming”.

“I’ve never known such a response,” she said. “One person said it’s the end of an era.”

She has been told of how her “unique and debonair” father started the careers of people that she didn’t even know - and always kept his promises.

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“He was a larger than life character, a loveable rogue,” said Jackie.

Charles was best known in Sidmouth for his repertory company, which is one of the last in the country and entertained audiences in the Manor Pavilion.

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Last week, his wife Imogen, the company’s artistic director, said their Summer Play Festival would be leaving the theatre after 26 years.

Imogen said her husband was impossible to sum up, but he will be remembered as being a lot of fun.

She added there was a serious, professional side to him, too, and when they worked together on The Glass Menagerie it was like working opposite any other actor.

Imogen added that they always had every faith in their Summer Play Festival at the Manor Pavilion, and were surprised that it ended.

“We always expected the run in Sidmouth to be successful – there was no reason to think it wouldn’t be,” she said.

They lived for a time in Farway, and Imogen said they always enjoyed coming into Sidmouth, so she is keen to return to Devon’s countryside.

Tricia Barclay, one of the co-producers of the Summer Play Festival, said: “Every theatre you go to you can mention his name and people will have met him or worked with him.”

She added that her daughter Lauren was among those whose careers he started, and she has gone from work experience aged 14 to touring Sebastian Faulks’ Birdsong across the country.

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