2015 - Much Ado About Nothing


                                           click to enlarge 

          Much Ado About Nothing' was our first ever production in 1964   
          It was also presented to celebrate our 25th anniversary in 1990


Dates & Location

Monday 22nd June - Saturday 27th June 2015
Evenings at 8pm - Saturday matinee at 2.30pm

Royden Park, Frankby, Wirral


Tickets were on sale from the Floral Pavilion, New Brighton

Day Stands A & C Stands A & C Stand B
Monday, Tuesday £12.00 £14.00 £16.00
Wednesday, Thursday £16.00 £18.00 £20.00
Friday, Saturday Evening £18.00 £20.00 £22.00
Saturday Matinee £10.00 £12.00 £14.00


Monday and Tuesday Special Offer
Book an Adult and an Under 16 ticket in certain seats in Stands A or C and save £5.00.
( the Floral website will indicate which seats are in the offer )


VIP Package available in Stand B - for just an additional £15 per ticket
( the Floral website will indicate which seats have been reserved for the offer )

These must be pre-booked and will not be available on the door.

" With the best seats in the house, a complimentary programme, indulge in Cava and canapés
in our VIP tent served by waitresses and waiters; or simply treat your family to an outing they’ll never forget.
Whatever the occasion, our VIP Experiences will make you feel centre-stage"

The plot

Everyone knows that Beatrice and Benedick were meant for each other, but - because neither will admit it - nothing seems capable of bringing these two sharp-tongued wits together. While the pugnacious pair would rather exchange scorching insults than sweet nothings, they are finally united with the shared resolve of defending house and honour, and salvaging the true love of Hero and Claudio after deceptions destroy the young lovers’ wedding day. But will restoring a young romance also lead to an unexpected change of heart for the combative couple?

Complete with jealous schemes and a whole host of delightfully endearing characters, Much Ado About Nothing is an hilarious and heart-stoppingly romantic love story which is sure to entertain and enthral. In Beatrice and Benedick, this sublime battle of wits and wills gives us one of Shakespeare’s most effervescent and endearing pair of lovers.

As well as being a unique part of Wirral’s cultural heritage, Hillbark Players have become the longest-established open-air Shakespeare company in the North West. Beneath midsummer skies in the magical setting of Royden Park, come and join us for an unforgettable evening of classic Shakespearian entertainment!

“A great night out, where Shakespeare’s work remains as it was for the original audience - a living event”.




The Cast  
Sophia Sally Lynam
Francesca Karen Cumming
Leonata Carys Cooper
Balthasar Rob Poston
Beatrice Pauline Garland
Hero Bethany D'Avincourt
Margaret Geraldine Moloney Judge
Ursula Sarah Maher
Don Pedro Charles Riley
Claudio Daniel Short
Benedick Stuart Rathe
Don John Andy Jordan
Conrade Adrian Davies
Borachio Will O'Neill
Antonio Nick Sample
Friar Francis Dave Bolitho
A Sexton Caroline Kay
The Watch  
Dogberry Ian Maddock
Verges Simon Garland
Watchman Oatcake Mike Ellis
Watchman Seacole Rob Poston
The Band  
Composer, Guitar, Vocals Alison Parker
Double Bass Thomas Schultz
Mandolin Mark Barrett
Flute Keith Parkins

                                              The cast take their final bow on Saturday 27th June 2015 - click to enlarge                                    

The production team




                                                Martin Riley

Assistanrt Directors Nick Sample, Ruth Stenhouse
Director's Assisitant Caroline Kay
Original music composed by Alison Parker
Choreography Lucy Kirkbright
Scenic Design Nigel Cooper, Gareth Cooper
Chief Electrician Simon Ollman
Lighting Design & Operation Nigel Cooper
Sound Design & Operation Peter Elliott
Costume Design Paula Cain
Costumes produced by Chester Costume House
           and students at Liverpool Community College
Wardrobe Mistresses Jill Breckon,   Nessa Garland
Stage Manager Gareth Cooper
Assisited by Ben Howarth, Ben McConaghy, Ruth Stenhouse,  Ian Tyrer
Properties Kate Maddock
Props Requisitioning Keith Hill
Sound And Lighting Crew Ray Byrne,   Daniel Ellis, Sea Rainey,  Jake Gunn, Gary Kendrick,
Danny Stenhouse
Scenic Construction Richard Smith, Steve Drewe, Steven Thomas Drewe, Ben Howarth,
Nigel Cooper,
  Gareth Cooper
Box Office Manager Ann Warr
Assisted by Janet Reed and Helen Ash
Front of House Manager Martin Barker
Assisted by Cheryl Barker, Jo Rymer, Andy Rymer, Aiysha Nugent Robinson, Desna Nugent Robinson, Mike Bell, Graham Thew, John Lees, Brian Jones, George Jones, Lucy Kirkbright, Joan Reynolds Jones and many other 'supporting players'
Press, Publicity and Promotion Ruth Stenhouse, Nick Sample, Gareth Cooper
Publicity and Programme Design Nick Sample
Audition Panel Martin Riley, Nick Sample,   Ruth Stenhouse, Bev Clark, Liz Gould


                                                                             Leonata's Sicilian Villa

                                                       The whole team behind 'Much Ado About Nothing' - click to enlarge


    click to enlarge all images               








Promotional leaflet

         click to enlarge all images

Lake magazine competition     Age UK Preview Night


Age UK Preview Night


Lake magazine - Lees Solicitors sponsorship


Royden Park Project team article - Liverpool Echo

Press articles




Floral Pavilion brochure advert


Post Office adverts - ADPOST

Original promotion leaflet (for 50th anniversary party)

Reviews and emails

Review: Much Ado About Nothing at Royden Park, Wirral
by Chris High. Published Sat 27 Jun 2015 20:02,

A lot of people may snobbily look down on amateur dramatics and the productions that are put out on display but, let’s be fair, you don’t get to last as a company for 51 years like Wirral's The Hillbark Players have and turn out dross, far from it. Indeed, it would be more than fair to say that many a “professional” company would do well to have achieved what Hillbark have managed here even if they had all day and all night in which to do so, which the Hillbark performers, technicians, directors, costumiers and make up exponents do not.

The company’s 2015 Shakespearian offering is Much Ado About Nothing and, trust me, there is nothing remotely “amateur” about it in the slightest and you are all but guaranteed to come away smiling from ear to ear.

So, what of the experience of sitting in one of Wirral’s finest public parks at dusk, settling down to watch one of the Bard’s most wittily written and thoroughly absorbing comedic plays?

Idyllic might seem a bit twee, but that is the first word that comes to mind as the audience quickly become entranced for a full three hours, especially as the sun wanes so that the natural setting combined with that created by Nigel and Gareth Cooper and the addition of the quite superb costumes designed by Paula Cain, almost become characters in their own right.

The performances are simply wonderful and in particular those of Pauline Garland who’s Beatrice is so full of acrimonious spite and spittle at the play’s beginning and so utterly confused by its end, that she could not help but become endeared to by the audience from the moment she steps onto the beautifully manicured lawn-stage. As Claudio, Daniel Short makes his character blossom to full maturity superbly, whereas Andy Jordan’s wicked Don John is so utterly convincing in carrying out his foul, envy fuelled deeds it is quite disappointing not to see him get his just deserts.

Special note should also be made of Carys Cooper’s Leonata, predominantly for her impassioned denouncement of her daughter Hero, which has the audience holding their breath waiting for fire and brimstone to truly come forth.

Yet without question, the stand out player of this particular love match has to be Stuart Rathe who’s cocksure, brazen, quick witted and devil-may-care interpretation of Benedick is an absolute, joyous hilarity when necessary and disturbingly and deadly earnest when called for.

Added to this, his main speech towards the end on this occasion was initially drowned out by a nearby wedding’s firework display beginning just as he was about to speak. That he managed to hold it together for several minutes, adlibbing and dancing away as the booms and whistles exploded in the night sky, is testament to his natural acting skills, enthusiasm and dogged determination that the show will always go on.

It would be true to say every actor involved adds little layers to this production of Much Ado About Nothing and for that Martin Riley’s superb direction should be saluted from the highest rooftop, loud and clear enough to drown out any exploding rocket, banger or starburst for this was a true Shakesperian experience, a fitting acknowledgment of the Great Man’s intentions when writing it and, above all, a hugely entertaining night out at a fabulous – if unusual – venue.


I just had to let you know about our experience on Saturday.

I had always wanted to attend the ‘play in the park’ and persuaded three of my friends to accompany me on Saturday 27th June. 

Everything was extremely well organised from very helpful parking marshals to the performance itself. After much discussion we decided to go the ‘whole hog’ and pumped for the VIP package and what a good move that was.  We were fully informed about the interval ‘nibbles and drinkies’ and then escorted to our seats by the delightful DJ suited James (very James Bondish) who, I have to say made the four of us feel like real VIP’s.

We ALL had a great night and just wanted to say a bit WELL DONE to the cast and crew for a wonderful evening



Brilliant production and congratulations to all.   Such a pity Friday was tainted by the bangers/fireworks.

Best wishes Brian & Elspeth


Audition poster









   Arrival at Leonata's Villa

   Don John plots

   The Masque

   Claudio and Hero agree to marry

   Benedick is tricked

   Beatrice is tricked

   Lovesick Benedick

   The Watch arrives

   Wedding preparations

   The Wedding

   Borachio and Conrade get their just desserts

   The Tomb Scene

   The Second Wedding

   The Finale - 'Sigh No More'


    The Full Company    The Set
    Backstage - 1    Backstage - 2

                                                              THE 50th ANNIVERSARY BANNER


                                                               Hillbark Players arena - from the air





                                          We turn this area of Royden Park into our 'Theatre in the Woods'



 Promotional Videos  

            Greg Jones video -  May 2015        click here

            Stuart Rathe video - June 2015      click here

             Bay Tv interviews -  June 2015      click here


The Committee  
Chairman Mike Ellis
Secretary Caroline Kay
Treasurer Gareth Cooper
Business Manager Adrian Davies
Committee members