Interview with Norwich Theatre Royal chief executive Stephen Crocker
PUBLISHED: 10:17 30 May 2017
Norwich Theatre Royal chief executive Stephen Crocker has been in charge for six months. So how is it going? From Nativity Play mishaps to Mamma Mia he has some great answers
What did you know about Norwich and Norfolk before this job came up?
I had lots of very happy memories of holidays to the Broads as I was growing up and a few visits to sing at the cathedral. I had no idea how rich a place this is in terms of cultural life and I now want to do anything I can to be an ambassador for that and help shout about it.
What are you enjoying most about your new job?
I would have to say that it’s all of the people that I am meeting and getting to know who, in their many different ways, make Theatre Royal and Playhouse so successful. From our volunteer stewards to my staff colleagues and our board of trustees, what we do is the result of an incredible team effort. This is then supported by loyal and dedicated audiences and supporters, fantastic artistic partners and many other visitors and stakeholders. The sum of all of this is a love for these theatres that is truly infectious and totally spurs me on!
Is there anything you are not enjoying?
I guess the biggest challenge for me has been not having enough time doing nothing just yet! We have not done anywhere near enough exploring in either the city or around the county just yet, but we will!
What is your earliest theatre memory?
It would have to be a school nativity play when I was probably about seven and I played the seminal role of ‘Second First Wise Man’. My school double-cast every role so that nobody missed out which made moving around the stage a little tricky for our sextet of Wise Men. I have never forgiven the ‘First Second Wise Man’ for stepping on the hem of my costume and causing me to hurl my gift of frankincense at the baby Jesus to the hilarity of the audience and complete shame of my mother!
Where did you grow up and what job did you want to do as a child?
I grew up in South Wales and singing was a big thing for me. My grandfather was an incredible club singer in his day which really influenced me and it was the first thing that I was any good at! I also loved languages, so it seems to make sense that my first real job was as a singer while living in Paris.
And what is your dream job now?
I have for a long time wanted to lead my own arts venue and now I do, so technically, I’m living the dream!
What show are you most looking forward to at the Theatre Royal, from June onwards?
All of them, of course! I enjoy good stories and love seeing how all of the different theatrical devices can be brought together to tell them, so Miss Saigon, which comes back to Norwich again next summer, is something I’m really excited about.
For me, it’s also exciting to see the re-telling and re-imagining of very old stories too and that’s why we are having a second visit this year from English Touring Opera whose new two-part production of Giulio Cesare (an opera that coincidentally I’ve also performed in) is one of my highlights too.
Which show would you most like to have been part of?
It’s got to be Mamma Mia! because they just looked like they were having the best time ever! I was very jealous of some of our brilliant technical team who were actually on stage (hidden behind the moving scenery) for the duration of each show, though I doubt I’d have been able to resist joining in!
What are the best shows you have ever seen?
That’s so hard to answer as I am pretty eclectic in terms of stuff I see and choosing is impossible. This would change every time you ask me, but here goes: Derek Jacobi in King Lear, Akram Khan’s DESH, Amy Winehouse at The Dublin Castle pub in Camden and Wicked with the original cast in New York.
Where in Norfolk are you living?
We live in the Golden Triangle in Norwich and are loving it. I get to walk to work for the first time ever and my stroll through Chapelfield Gardens is such a lovely way to start each day.
What do you enjoy doing outside work?
My partner Michael and I love being outside whatever the season, so we seize any free time we get together to spend walking, lying on a blanket in a park or just in the garden. I am also a bit of a shopaholic and love rummaging around vintage, antique and charity shops.