Backstage with the stars
They may be used to the red carpet treatment now but back in their earlier days stars such as Gary Oldman, Emma Thompson and Catherine Zeta-Jones were just working actors treading the boards at the Haymarket Theatre.
Those who worked in the Leicester theatre in its heyday have been recalling those times in preparation for a reunion this year, to mark 40 years since the Haymarket opened.
Gail Newby worked at the theatre in various roles, including as a dresser.
She looked after Gary Oldman and remembers the time the star – of Harry Potter, The Dark Knight, and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy – got hurt.
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"I remember Gary being taken to hospital when he injured his ankle on set during a performance," said Gail.
"He was 19 or 20 but even then you could see he had star quality. He had a definite stage presence and was very charismatic, but of course we never knew he would become such a huge movie star.
"When I see him on screen it's amazing to think I've met him.
"We got to have quite a chat in the hospital while he was waiting to be seen, although I think he was in a lot of pain.
"I have some amazing memories of my time at the Haymarket.
"The theatre was one of the forerunners of its day and productions that went to London often started there.
"That's why so many actors passed through the doors.
"We were one of the first theatres to produce Richard O'Brien's play The Rocky Horror Show and that also celebrates its 40th birthday next year, which is fantastic."
Gail also remembers Robert Lindsay and Emma Thompson, whose performance in Me and My Girl captured the hearts of theatre-goers and led to acclaim in London and later Broadway.
She said: "Robert was a real professional. He worked really hard and had high standards.
"He expected everyone around him to be the same, but he was a lovely man. Great fun to be with.
"Emma wasn't really known at that point at all, so it's great to think the Haymarket helped spearhead her career."
Then there was Peter O'Toole, who appeared with John Thaw in Pygmalion.
"Peter was amazing. He wanted lots of things in his dressing room and you really knew you had a star in the building," said Gail.
"One of the sweetest people was Parminder Nagra.
"She worked in the youth theatre and as an usher.
"Parminder was lovely and quite quiet. When we saw her in Bend it Like Beckham we were so proud of her.
"It was clear she had a great love for acting even then."
Catherine Zeta-Zones, whose films include Chicago and Traffic, was a teenager when she took to the Haymarket stage in the chorus of The Pajama Game.
Gail said: "There were so many famous faces that passed through those doors. You never know, we might even get some to come to our reunion – we're busy trying to contact agents of various actors now.
"The Haymarket was like one big happy family and that's why we thought a reunion would be a great idea."
Harriet Roy, who started as an assistant stage manager straight out of drama school and was there until it shut in January 2007, also has many fond memories.
She said: "It's so exciting to be getting everyone back together.
"I had such a great time working at the theatre because we worked hard and played hard, socialising after the shows.
"It really was like being part of a family.
"I remember working with Judy Craymer, who was in stage management in the early 80s. She went to London and made a fortune from her work on Mamma Mia.
"She also helped create the Spice Girls musical, Viva Forever, so we really hope to have her at the reunion.
"The Haymarket in its day was a refreshing and exciting place to do theatre and there was always a great buzz.
"I made some lovely friends and that's the spirit we hope to bring to the reunion."
The reunion takes place at the Symphony Rooms, in Burnmoor Street, Leicester, at 7.30pm on May 5.
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