The Queen’s Theatre’s long-standing Artistic Director Bob Carlton will step down from his post this year.

Bob Carlton

Bob, who has been at the Queen’s helm for 17 years, will leave the Theatre in November after directing his final production – aptly, his self-penned Olivier Award-winning musical ‘Return to the Forbidden Planet’, which embarks on a 25th anniversary UK tour following its Hornchurch run. He will be returning to his freelance directing and writing career, starting with a production in America of Private Lives at the Walnut Street Theater, Philadelphia.

Dennis Roycroft, Chair of the Havering Theatre Trust, said: “Whilst Bob has been the Queen’s Artistic Director, he has made a significant contribution to the success of the Theatre. When he arrived, it was about to close but with his vision and drive, the Queen’s not only continues to flourish but is one of the country’s few remaining successful producing theatres.”

Previously directing for both stage and screen in the UK as well as the States, Japan and Australia, Bob was appointed in 1997 at a time of financial turmoil for the Queen’s. Together with his management team, he worked tirelessly with the London Borough of Havering and it is largely thanks to his foresight and perseverance that the Theatre was saved. He was also largely instrumental in getting the theatre readmitted to the Arts Council’s National Portfolio, bringing in nearly £3million pounds worth of arts funding to the London Borough of Havering.

Bob is a very vocal champion of the ensemble system (where a company of actors is cast throughout a season of several plays) and a strong advocate of a true producing house – the Queen’s is one of the few remaining theatres to design and create all its own sets and costumes on-site.

He is also the very proud creator of the ‘actor-musician’ concept, establishing the multi-award-winning cut to the chase… professional resident company of actor-musicians soon after arriving in Hornchurch. Bob’s unique cut to the chase… ensemble – the only one in the UK – has gone from strength to strength over the years, playing to packed houses and winning great admiration from audiences and press alike.

In his time at the Queen’s, Bob has programmed more than 30 seasons and directed scores of musicals, comedies and dramas. Memorable highlights include the critically-acclaimed World Premieres of Lionel Bart’s story It’s a Fine Life! and Richard O’Brien’s The Stripper as well as the Queen’s current production, the European Premiere of Gunmetal Blues.

Bob also successfully continued his mission to make the works of Shakespeare accessible to everyone, breathing energy and vibrancy into the Bard’s plays and attracting record audience figures.

Today, the Queen’s Theatre, in the words of the London Borough of Havering, is the “jewel in the crown of the borough’s cultural life”. It has grown to become a treasured cultural hub at the very heart of Havering’s community – a wonderful legacy of a truly passionate artistic director.

Bob said: “I am so proud of everything we have achieved over the last 17 years – it has been a true team effort involving a lot of very dedicated and ingenious people, who have created quality theatre on shoestring budgets. I’m looking forward to new adventures but will always think fondly of the Queen’s. I hope it continues to be a place where our whole community comes to enjoy professional, affordable, truly fantastic theatre.”