The Americans are coming – it’s 20 years since first exchange visit

American visitors are renewing friendships they first made 20 years ago at the Stables Theatre this week.

Players from the Chicago Heights Drama Group are staging The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940 from this Friday (June 21st) for six performances as part of The Stables’ Diamond Jubilee celebrations this month.

MaryEllen Fawk (2)
MaryEllen Fawk.

Play director MaryEllen Fawk said her group was looking forward to strengthening cross-cultural links in their exchange programme with the Stables she said: “Needless to say, we are very excited. The friendships we have made with the exchange are cherished by all of us. They have developed as a result of our shared love of theatrical performance.

“The Stables-Drama Group exchange is a treasure; we know of no other like it or that has had such longevity.  We have learned much from each other because of our shared experiences.”

The exchange programme started in 1999 and next year Stables members plan to take one of their productions to the Chicago Heights theatre.

MaryEllen described the Musical Comedy Murders, by John Bishop, as a ‘delightful romp’ that satirises the murder mystery genre as well as some archetypal characters from stage and film. The play tells the story of a series of murders that happen at a New York theatre.

She added: “An ambitious detective named Kelly is determined to solve the case with the help of a wealthy theatre backer, Elsa Von Grossenkneuten. Just like in the Thin Man movies of the 1930s and 1940s, the artful detective gathers his suspects in one area, hoping to flush out the infamous Stage Door Slasher.”

Chicago cast pic (9)
Some of the American visitors who are in Hastings until June 30th.

Twenty-six Americans are visiting Hastings, with eight of them performing in the comedy. The play will be staged on Friday and Saturday (June 21st and 22nd), then from next Wednesday, June 26th until the following Saturday June 29th.

The Chicago Heights group arrived on Monday and many of them are staying with host families until head for home. Stables members have arranged social events and outings for the visitors during their stay.

A service to celebrate the theatre’s 60th anniversary will be held on Sunday, June 30th, at All Saints’ Church in Hastings Old Town from 4pm.

Tickets cost £8.50 for members; adults £13.50; under 18s and groups £10.50. Bookings and details of Stables membership are available on 01424 423221 or go to

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