The company behind Spamalot and Madagascar the Musical has been announced as the new permanent operator for North Devon’s two theatres.

Sir Ian McKellen will be reopening the Landmark Theatre in March 2019. Picture: Lauren Hurley/PA WireSir Ian McKellen will be reopening the Landmark Theatre in March 2019. Picture: Lauren Hurley/PA Wire

Selladoor Worldwide will take over the running of the Queen's Theatre in Barnstaple and the Landmark Theatre in Ilfracombe from the second week of January after being appointed for 10 years following a tender process by owners North Devon Council.

And the company already has exciting plans for the Landmark, with Lord of the Rings star Sir Ian McKellan set to bring his one man show to Ilfracombe and to take part in the official reopening of the building under its new operator on March 25.

The production company takes over from Parkwood Creative Ltd, which has run the theatres on an interim, contract since April 2017 after the original North Devon Theatres Trust went into liquidation.

The Gazette spoke to Selladoor CEO David Hutchinson, who said once the Queen's Christmas pantomime had finished, all the existing programme of shows scheduled by Parkwood would transfer to Selladoor.

He said: "We went down to Barnstaple and Ilfracombe and met a number of community leaders and amateur dramatics groups and it absolutely blew me away the level of love the community has for the theatres.

"It was just quite overwhelming and a good motivator for us to come in and run the buildings.

"The immediate thing is we need to get everything set up in a period of transition but after that we are looking at getting more youth performance arts at the Landmark."

Mark Kentell, contracts delivery manager at North Devon Council said: "Selladoor are an exciting, dynamic theatre company with fresh ideas and a firm commitment to making both of our theatres successes in their own right.

"We can look forward to thriving theatres in both Ilfracombe and Barnstaple with shows produced at the Landmark touring internationally.

"Selladoor are everything I'd hoped for in a theatre operator and I'm so pleased to welcome them to North Devon."

Mr Hutchinson said the company had big plans for the Landmark and were keen to bring more work to it as well as making it a nationally recognised destination for producing work as well.

And locals will be pleased to hear he is keen to have the building and its café open through the day and the evening as soon as possible.

He said: "It's such a gorgeous setting and it deserves to have evening trade as well.

"We are looking to make the Landmark a centre of excellence for youth arts and theatre. It could become a building of national importance and if the big companies see Ilfracombe was one of those you could get artists coming down who we might not otherwise have here."

Selladoor co-founder and CFO Phillip Rowntree added: "Over the last 10 years of producing in theatres of all scales and sizes, in the UK and around the world, Selladoor has always been acutely aware of the importance of local theatres in the regional landscape.

"We could not be more humbled by the trust vested in us by the council and people of North Devon, nor could we be more excited by this thrilling new chapter in Selladoor's life. We cannot wait to begin delivering our vision for the theatres to the communities in Ilfracombe and Barnstaple."

Selladoor's current and past shows include Little Miss Sunshine, Fame, Madagascar the Musical, and Green Day's American Idiot, which will be returning to tour in 2019.

Mr Hutchinson said he was hopeful some of these shows would be able to appear at the Queen's Theatre.