Tributes paid to Neville

John Neville, former artistic director at Nottingham Playhouse
John Neville, former artistic director at Nottingham Playhouse

NOTTINGHAM Playhouse has paid tribute to its former artistic director John Neville, who has died aged 86.

One of the leading classical actors of his generation, he was a stalwart of the Old Vic and a regular face in the West End during the 1950s, when he was acclaimed for performances that included Romeo, Richard II, Hamlet (to Judi Dench’s Ophelia in her professional debut), and Othello and Iago, roles he alternated with Richard Burton.

Determined to build a world-renowned theatre company in the centre of England to rival London, Neville moved to Nottingham and took over as artistic director of the Nottingham Playhouse Theatre Company from 1963–1968. He oversaw the completion of the new building (designed by Peter Moro) which opened in December 1963.

Giles Croft, current artistic director of Nottingham Playhouse, commented: “John Neville was a star actor who chose to move away from London at the height of his fame to work in Nottingham.

“He was instrumental in making the Nottingham Playhouse of the 1960s the most exciting theatre in the country and his time here is still talked about with great affection and admiration. He will be sadly missed both here and in Canada, where he continued his remarkable career.”

Stephanie Sirr, chief executive of Nottingham Playhouse added: “I was recently fortunate enough to attend a major theatre festival in Tblisi, Georgia.

“When I said I was from Nottingham Playhouse, people immediately responded ‘John Neville’. Forty years after his departure from Nottingham, that’s pretty remarkable.”