29 May 2024

Camilla recalls ‘fantastic’ secret night at the theatre on visit to drama school

29 May 2024

The Queen was reminded of a “fantastic” secret night at the theatre with her grandchildren when she celebrated the 120th anniversary of a world-famous drama school.

Camilla joined the King for a tour of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (Rada) in central London, which has trained leading actors from Sir Anthony Hopkins to Imelda Staunton and Tom Hiddleston.

The visit was the couple’s first major public event since Rishi Sunak called a summer General Election, as the monarchy has postponed any engagements “which may appear to divert attention or distract from the election campaign”.

Former student Daniel Mays spent around 12 months playing Nathan Detroit in the musical Guys And Dolls and he quizzed the Queen about taking her grandchildren to see the production at London’s Bridge Theatre.

“It was fantastic” replied Camilla.

The actor said afterwards: “She loved it and she took all her grandkids and they said they had the most incredible night.”

He added: “I left about three months ago and towards the end of my run she came with all her grandkids, we were only told on the day there would be an important royal visit, so we were wondering who it was going to be.”

He joked: “It’s an immersive production and we were wondering if she was going to be in her seat or standing up.

“It’s the longest thing and most exhausting thing I’ve ever been part of – but a great time.”

The King was named as Rada’s new patron earlier this month, succeeding Queen Elizabeth II who had been its figurehead for 70 years.

Rada was founded in 1904 by actor-manager Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree in rooms above His Majesty’s Theatre in London’s West End, and today provides vocational training for actors, stage managers, designers and technical stagecraft specialists.

David Harewood, Rada’s president who appeared in hit TV series Homeland, joined the King as did the institution’s vice-president, actress and singer Cynthia Erivo, who will be appearing in the film version of the musical Wicked alongside Ariana Grande.

The King was told that Rada receives around 4,000 applications for a handful of acting places, and joked: “Do you put them through the most horrendous auditions?”

The royal couple watched a scene from House Of Ife by Beru Tessema, a play about a family dealing with the death of the eldest son, and met the cast afterwards.

They later toured Rada’s workshops where sets and backdrops are designed, built and painted by the students.

Harewood said after the royal visit: “I think drama is dropping off the school syllabuses right now, which is really sad to see, so to have (a) reigning monarch who is a champion of the arts, in favour of the arts, supporting the arts, I think is really, really exciting.”

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