Mill at Sonning announce cast for Christmas musical Top Hat!

Mill at Sonning announce cast for Christmas musical Top Hat!

The Christmas musical at Mill at Sonning is a must for every theatre fan in the south and, after a year without being able to visit we can’t wait to go back for dinner and a cracking night’s entertainment! Read on for full casting and creative info:

Jack Butterworth, who dazzled as Bobby van Husen in ‘The Boy Friend’ at The Menier Chocolate Factory (“a fearsome hoofer” – Nick Curtis, Evening Standard, “Jack Butterworth opens the show with a rollicking Charleston that wows the audience”-  Whatsonstage) will star as Jerry Travers in ‘Top Hat’, The Mill at Sonning’s now legendary annual Christmas musical.

‘Top Hat’ brings the glamour of Hollywood’s golden age and the magic of the world famous dance partnership of Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers to the stage. This 2011 musical based on the 1935 film of the same name, tells the story of Broadway sensation Jerry Travers who dances his way across Europe to win the heart of society girl Dale Tremont. With an uplifting and entertaining script, this show celebrates 1930s song, style and romance. Underpinning every scene are Irving Berlin’s magnificent songs including ;Puttin’ on the Ritz’, ‘Cheek to Cheek’, ‘Isn’t This A Lovely Day’, and of course, ‘Top Hat, White Tie & Tails’.

A masterpiece of musical theatre, ‘Top Hat’ will run from 16 October, 2021 – 8 January, 2022.

Also featured in the cast are Brendan Cull, Tiffany Graves, Billie-Kay, Paul Kemble and Delme Thomas  with an ensemble of Joel Baylis, Charlie Booker, Courtney George, Jinny Gould, Alex Harrison, Connor Hughes, Meg Power and Charlotte Coggin.

Creative team: Director Jonathan O’Boyle, Choreographer Ashley Nottingham, Set Designer Jason Denvir, Sound Designer  Chris Whybrow, Musical Arrangements Francis Goodhand, Musical Director Chris Poon, Lighting Designer Nic Farman.

Jack Butterworth (Jerry Travers) As well as ‘The Boy Friend’ at the Menier, he played  Samuel Seabury in the original West End cast of ‘Hamilton’, Older Billy in ‘Billy Elliot’ (National Tour) and Rum Tum Tugger & Alonzo in ‘Cats’ (London Palladium).

Brendan Cull (Bates) returns to The Mill where he was last seen in ‘Singin’ in the Rain’. His West End credits include ‘The Book of Mormon’ and ‘White Christmas’.

Tiffany Graves (Madge) was Hortense in ‘The Boyfriend’ (Menier), Eagle Woman in ‘The Astonishing Return of the Protagonists ‘& Madeleine True in ‘The Wild Party’ (The Other Palace), Velma Kelly in Chicago (West End).

Billie-Kay (Dale Tremont) was in ‘42nd Street’ (West End) and ‘Funny Girl’ (Theatre Marigny, Paris).

Paul Kemble (Horace) was in ‘School of Rock’ (West End) and ‘All the Angels’ (Sam Wannamaker Playhouse, The Globe).

Delme Thomas (Beddini) previously appeared at The Mill in ‘Move Over Mrs Markham!’ and ‘Run For Your Wife’, and ‘Potted Potter’ (West End, Off-Broadway and World Tour).

Jonathan O’Boyle – Director
Jonathan is an award-winning theatre director. His credits include ‘The Last Five Years’ (Garrick Theatre. Off-West End Awards for Best Director and Best Production); ‘Looking Good Dead’ (UK Tour) ‘Hair’ (Hope Mill Theatre/The Vaults/UK & European Tours. WhatsOnStage Award for Best Off-West End Production); The View Upstairs’ (Soho Theatre); ‘Rain Man’ (UK Tour); ‘Aspects of Love’ and ‘Pippin’ (Hope Mill Theatre/Southwark Playhouse).

Ashley Nottingham – Choreographer
Choreography credits include last year’s ‘Singin’ In The Rain’ at The Mill, and ‘KIPPS The New Half A Sixpence Musical’, ‘Nice Work If You Can Get It’, ‘Disney’s Newsies’ – European Premiere at Arts Ed.

Jason Denvir – Set Designer
Jason’s recent collaborations with Jonathan O’Boyle include ‘A Guide for the Homesick’ at Trafalgar Studios , ‘Aspects of Love’ at Hope Mill Theatre and Southwark Playhouse – Offie nomination for ‘Aspects of Love’ – Set Design.

Chris Whybrow – Sound Designer
Chris has worked extensively throughout the world, his design credits include: ‘Cats’ (Kilworth House Theatre); ‘Falsettos’ (The Other Palace); ‘American Idiot ‘(Arts Theatre & UK Tour) Winner of BWW Award for ‘Best Sound Design’; ‘Madagascar the Musical’ (UK Tour); ‘The Producers’ (International Tour); ‘Thriller Live’ (West End, Worldwide).

Francis Goodhand – Musical Arrangements
As Musical Director his credits include ‘Singin’ In The Rain’ at The Mill, ‘Tell Me On A Sunday ‘starring Jodie Prenger (national tours); ‘Cats’ (Kilworth House); ‘Jersey Boys’ (UK Tour).

Chris Poon – Musical Director
Recent credits as Musical Director include: ‘Rent’ and ‘The Astonishing Times of Timothy Cratchit ‘(Hope Mill) and ‘Nice Work If You Can Get It’ (Upstairs at the Gatehouse – nominated ‘Best Musical Director’ at both the Offies and BroadwayWorld UK awards).

Nic Farman – Lighting Designer
Musicals include: ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover ‘(West End); ‘Spring Awakening’ (Seoul, South Korea & Hope Mill); ‘Falsettos’ (The Other Palace); ‘The View Upstairs’ (Soho Theatre), ‘The Toxic Avenger’ (Arts Theatre & Southwark Playhouse).

The  Mill at Sonning prides itself on offering customers a unique Dinner-Theatre experience. Every ticket at The Mill includes a delicious home-cooked pre-show two-course meal.

The riverside restaurant, which overlooks the beautiful river Thames, has recently been refurbished and is now the perfect place to indulge before a show.

The first main course is served buffet style before our friendly team of waiters and waitresses help you to your table and take your dessert and drink orders.

From the last week of November until Boxing Day we will have a Christmas Menu.

From Boxing Day onwards we will return to the previous Menu.


There has been a mill at Sonning for many centuries. In the Domesday Book of 1086 three mills at ‘Sonninges and Berrochescire’ are
mentioned. In the 1600s the rents for the mill went to the Royal Revenue.

During the Civil War when Cromwell had his headquarters in London and King Charles had his in Oxford, the troops met in the middle –
Reading. It was Sonning which supplied the flour for the besieged garrison in the town. The site of the earliest Sonning mill could very well have been in a different place. Wooden buildings had a habit of burning down. The current one dates back to the 18th century but the main parts of the present theatre building are from around 1890. It was owned then by the Witherington family who added the top two storeys and the larger waterwheels for more power to drive the machinery. Around 1898 they put in a steam engine to supplement the water power.

The Phillimore family took over the mill in 1913 but they still traded under the name of C.H. Witherington and Sons Ltd. They remodelled the inside of the mill the following year. Up until 1950 the mill had its own fleet of barges which brought wheat from London right up to its door. In 1962, when the business was taken over by Associated British Foods Ltd., they remodelled yet again and introduced electric engines although the main source of power was still produced by the wheels.

When the mill closed in 1969, it was one of the last flour mills on the Thames driven by wheels. The new port mill at Tilbury had opened and Sonning, being much smaller could not compete economically. Also, one of Sonning’s major customers, Huntley and Palmers, stopped
making biscuits in Reading.

The mill remained empty until 1977. It was then that Tim and Eileen Richards, who had a great love of theatre, found the derelict building and decided to convert it into The Mill as it is today. Tim invited his brother Frank to join them and the transformation took four years to complete. THE MILL AT SONNING DINNER THEATRE opened on July 22nd 1982.
Sadly Frank Richards died in 1994, Tim Richards in 2002 and Eileen Richards in 2015. Her daughter Sally is now Managing Director of The Mill which continues to go from strength to strength thanks to its ever loyal staff and audience, having produced an abundance of plays and musicals.

In 1984 The Mill at Sonning was given a conservation award by The Times newspaper and The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors for the design, restoration and conversion of the derelict mill into a dinner theatre.

It was named  Most Welcoming Theatre by the Theatre Managers Association for 2016, 2017 and 2018.
Listings info


Music & Lyrics by Irving Berlin
Based on RKO’s Motion Picture
Book by Matthew White & Howard Jacques

The Mill at Sonning Theatre
Sonning Eye

Box Office: 0118 969 8000

16 October, 2021 – 8 January, 2022

Evening shows Tue – Sat
Sat matinees every week
Sun matinees from 24 Oct
Sun evenings from 12 – 26 Dec

Extra matinees on Wed 22 Dec, Thurs 23 Dec,
 Thurs 30 Dec 2021

No shows on 24, 25, 27, 28 Dec 2021

Tickets: from £61.50

Restaurant open and serving lunch from 12.15pm – 2pm
Performance starts 2.15pm

Restaurant open and serving dinner from 6.15pm – 8pm
Performance starts 8.15pm


Matt has been writing on all manner of subjects for over 15 years. He has written for a number of music magazines, made appearances on BBC Introducing and regularly contributed to local newspapers. These days he mostly writes about rugby and is passionate about providing insight into women's rugby! He also writes on theatre and regularly reviews shows across the south.

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