Colin Matthews of Babbacombe Theatre, Torquay Devon


Colin Matthews is a name that is synonymous with one of Torquay’s finest theatres, Babbacombe Theatre. Colin took on the theatre in 1986 and has been producing immensely popular and heart-warming shows ever since. A couple of year’s ago he celebrated 30 years of production at Babbacombe Theatre, an unbelievable achievement that shows no sign of slowing down!

So, as the nights draw in and people start thinking about the festive season, and Christmas, we caught up with Colin to learn about their latest festive blockbuster, Christmas Crackers!

Please describe your latest Christmas production

Christmas Crackers is a feast of festive fun for all the family which I like to provide as a great alternative to panto over the Christmas period. Topping the bill is one of the theatre’s favourite comedians Andy Oakley.

What can people expect from Christmas Crackers?

It’s already a monster hit! It lives up to its name from start to breathless finish with a non-stop mix of laughs, glamour, magic and sparkle. The secret is a tight cast full of talent and flexibility, who feel more like friends and loved ones to the adoring audience.

The show unashamedly centres on the talents of its two principals – Andy Oakley and Lily Laight.  But in pitch-perfect singers Paul Cobley and Sami-Jane Slater and the irrepressible comedy magician Peter Baffles, the pair has a class act alongside them.

And this year we see the debut of a new Babbacombe star in handsome young vocalist Simon Stuart. Finally the whole show is sewn together by the ever-improving Danze Magique who literally never puts a foot wrong.

Why should people visit Babbacombe Theatre, particularly at Christmas time?

For some two hours of pure entertainment with laughter, magic, song & dance.

What is particularly special about Babbacombe Theatre?

Everyone who performs here loves the intimate atmosphere created by its unique design.

So, how did you get into theatre production?

I had promoted touring shows at the Princess Theatre, Torquay, Festival Theatre, Paignton and various theatres elsewhere. Then when I heard that the Babbacombe Theatre was in danger of closing I took it over from the Council in 1986 and started producing my own shows.

Meet Colin Matthews, the man behind Babbacombe Theatre in Torquay Devon

What were you doing before Babbacombe Theatre?

I was in the club/pub/restaurant business with my two brothers.

You've spent 30 years at Babbacombe, what has been the highlights/lowlights?

The highlights have definitely been about finding so many talented artists for my productions along with a dedicated team of hardworking staff that makes everything possible and never lets me down. If I had to say, a low point would have to be losing money in the initial years, it took a while to really get going!

Who is your favourite Director/producer of film/theatre?

Producer – Cameron Mackintosh, he has a tremendous ability to see what will work in musical theatre and is investing millions back into the business. Director – Hal Prince, his incredible body of work, from West Side Story to Phantom Of The Opera and dozens more.

[Images supplied by English Riviera Magazine]

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An asset to the English Riviera for over eighty years Babbacombe Theatre is renowned for wowing audiences with their highly acclaimed family variety shows, most especially since 1986 when Matpro Limited took over the venue. From its earliest days, the theatre had many years of successful summer shows and it became known for its reputation of hosting household names on the threshold of their careers, including in 1955/56 Bruce Forsyth, who headlined in the Hedley Claxton’s ‘Gaytime’. From its heyday in the 1970s, successive failures in the early 1980s led to the council deciding to close the theatre, however Colin Matthews, who had been operating the theatre since 1986 took on a new lease in 1990.

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The party's on….and only comes this time of year to the Babbacombe Theatre in Torquay. The mood will be right, and the spirit of goodwill will abound in the all new family show, Wonderful Christmastime. Comedy will feature throughout; in more than one guise! Enjoy comedic one liners, funny stories and numerous side-splitting sketches. If you like to celebrate the yuletide season with laughter, then this show will not disappoint.

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