The Landmark will be for community use initially and the cafe reopen, while ‘strong shows’ are promised for the Queen’s in Barnstaple

Some of the cast of Hairspray, the first show back at the Queen's Theatre in Barnstaple. Picture: Stephanie Snooks PhotographySome of the cast of Hairspray, the first show back at the Queen's Theatre in Barnstaple. Picture: Stephanie Snooks Photography

'Exciting times' are ahead for North Devon's two theatres following a deal to bring them under new management.

More details have emerged about the deal that will see Parkwood Theatres take on running of the Queen's in Barnstaple and the Landmark in Ilfracombe for a temporary 12 month contract.

North Devon Council announced today (Friday) the contract had been signed and the Queen's would reopen with its first show on May 31.

The Gazette has been speaking to Mark Thompson, regional general manager at Parkwood, who will be looking after the theatres in North Devon.

He said: "It's really exciting times - they are very different venues and they should complement each other.

"Although they have only been shut for a few months there's a lot of work that needs to happen very quickly."

The first show at the Queen's will be Hairspray from May 31 to June 3 By Barnstaple Musical Comedy and Dramatic Society, with regular commercial programming starting in September.

There are no immediate plans to begin shows at the Landmark but Mr Thompson said it was also used by a lot of community groups and he had been meeting with several this week.

He also revealed Parkwood was looking to reopen the café at the Landmark 'very soon'.

He said: "There's a real appetite in North Devon and a lot of support for both venues."

Of the new autumn season at the Queen's, he added: "The programme that is coming will be exciting and a good strong mix of shows, from west End productions to really strong one-night performers."

Towards the end of the first 12 months, theatres owner North Devon Council will put the long term contract out to tender.