What's on

The Orphy Robinson Quintet: Bobby Hutcherson Project

Friday 17 May 2019

7:30pm - 10:00pm



  • Orphy Robinson vibes & marimba
  • Tony Kofi reeds
  • Robert Mitchell piano
  • Dudley Phillips bass
  • Rod Youngs drums

The renowned USA vibes player Bobby Hutcherson died aged 65 in August 2016 having had a glittering career from the late 1950s. He played with the Who’s Who of jazz icons, recording on Blue Note from 1963 to 1977. Bobby ran the gambit from bebop, via post bop to contemporary and free jazz.

In September 2016 Orphy Robinson assembled an octet to pay homage to Bobby Hutcherson, a performance voted by the public the “Live Experience of the Year” at the April 2017 Jazz FM Awards.

We are very pleased to provide this repeat opportunity for Bobby’s work to be celebrated. We delight in having a quintet from the same gifted players who will play Bobby’s original compositions, arranged by Orphy Robinson.

Orphy Robinson MBE, a former Jazz Warriors member, signed by Blue Note and making five albums as leader on the iconic label in the 1990s, has continued to make waves and help turn the tide of jazz in the UK from continual reproduction of standards to contemporary compositions distinctly UK and World Music in nature. He has composed for film, TV, stage and the Proms. His work in music education is renowned. Somehow he finds time to perform and work with artists from a wide range of musical genres, from Robert Plant through to Nigel Kennedy, Andy Shephard and any and everyone on the UK jazz scene.

Tony Kofi, a contemporary of Orphy’s in the Jazz Warriors and last seen at Progress in February with the Portrait of Cannonball, is undoubtedly one of the UK’s most popular players who spans the styles from bebop to free jazz. As a younger man he had a four year scholarship at Berklee, Boston USA, where he gained his diploma and also much experience from the USA scene. Tony plays with passion and sensitivity, never failing to create an emotive response from an audience.

Robert Mitchell also spent a number of years stateside in the Big Apple, earning his spurs after completing his BSc degree in London. Also serving time in the Warriors, Robert has a wide musical influence and having studied piano from the age of six, uses that depth of knowledge to produce music influenced by classical piano heritage, jazz, world music, soul, R&B and beyond. Robert has made a number of albums as leader and also in a solo setting. It is a pleasure to be able to introduce him to our Progress audience.

Dudley Phillips is, like so many bass players, an unsung hero. However, he co-created the Perfect Houseplants in 1992 with Mark Lockheart, Huw Warren and Martin France on drums who appeared for us with Chris Laurence. No doubt some in our audience will have at least one of the band’s albums from the 1990s.

Rod Youngs, drummer and composer, really gets into the groove and heart of a tune. Seen at Swanage JazzFestival last year with Byron Wallen and also Jazz Jamaica, he drives proceedings with a loose-limbed relaxed style. This aids an intricate, delicate use of the cymbals that fizz and spark. Rod is a pleasure to watch, as he is so expressive and into the music. As a reviewer says “he does not so much as hit the drums, but massages them with an expression of orgasmic concentration.” There are not that many drummers you can say that about. Rod is a native of Washington DC and started playing the drums at an early age, inspired by going to gigs and recording sessions with his father who was an agent for R&B bands in Washington. Rod’s associations run from Alan Barnes to Gill Scott Heron, from Courtney Pine to the BBC Concert Orchestra.

What a great line up and as this gig was cancelled because of snow last March, we are delighted to have this new date.



Jazz at Progress is presented in association with Jazz in Reading.

Top Girls

by Caryl Churchill

Top Girls banner

3 - 8 June 2019, performances at 7.45pm

Marlene is a succesful businesswoman, but what has her promotion cost her? 

Caryl Churchill's play addresses the themes of the 1980s, using famous women of the past to examine the choices women need to make to succeed in a man's world.


Directed by Beckie Moir.

This amateur production of “Top Girls” is presented by special arrangement with SAMUEL FRENCH, LTD.




Andante Live presents Blowin' in the Wind

Book Tickets

Friday 14 June 2019 at 7.30pm

Join us as we take you back to the era of PEACE, PROTEST & LOVE with uniquely arranged classic songs such as "Mr Tambourine Man", "Imagine", "The Night They Drove Ol’ Dixie Down", "Big Yellow Taxi", "The Sound of Silence", "All you need is Love" and many more.

Andante Live presents “Blowin’ in the Wind”. Combining the vocal harmonies of Vee Sweeney and Mark Rowson, 16 instruments between them and outstanding musicianship, they perform an uplifting and inspiring show to give you a fabulous evening of unforgettable music.

When Dylan, Baez and friends sang their songs of peace, protest & love, "times certainly were a- changin’..."

For more information and to see promo videos, please visit our website www.andantelive.com.


♫ Paz

Friday 21 June at 7.30pm

Doors open 7.00pm Paz

  • Geoff Castle keyboards
  • Matt Wates alto sax
  • Dominic Grant guitar
  • Rob Statham bass
  • Chris Fletcher percussion,
  • Les Cirkel drums

Legendary latin-jazz-funk fusion outfit Paz, formed in 1971, has recorded eleven critically acclaimed albums, often topping the fusion charts. The band is led by keyboard player Geoff Castle, for many years a stalwart of the pioneering jazz/rock band Nucleus. Geoff has played and recorded with the likes of George Coleman, Ian Dury and Georgie Fame.

Fronting the line-up is acclaimed saxophonist Matt Wates, who Progress regulars will remember from his appearance with his sextet last October. The ensemble is completed by long-standing members Dominic Grant guitar, Rob Statham bass, Chris Fletcher percussion and Les Cirkel drums.

This is a band which has remained steadfastly resistant to being pigeonholed, incorporating a multitude of influences well before ‘fusion’ became fashionable; Paz’s music stands the test of time magnificently.

The UK’s premier latin-fusion band, Paz play a lightly grooving, cheery and danceable music with loads of funk and flair” - Time Out

Get a flavour of what’s in store here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0c-SiPpZSO0

Photo: Zoë White Photography

Jazz at Progress is presented in association with Jazz in Reading.

When They Go Low

By Natalie Mitchell 
Presented by Progress Youth Theatre 

2-6 July 2019

When They Go Low by Natalie Mitchell was first commissioned and produced by National Theatre Connections in 2018.

Social media is in a frenzy over pictures of Sarah at a party on the weekend – no one knows quite what she got up to. When Miss Reef lectures the girls on taking more responsibility for their actions, Louise becomes enraged that the boys who took the pictures aren’t made accountable too. She wages war on the misogyny but when she threatens school stalwart Scott and his claim to the School Captain title, things get very nasty. A website appears, rating the girls on their appearance and shaming them for their actions.

When They Go Low is about everyday feminism and the changing face of teenage sexuality in an online world. When they go low, we go high.


King Lear

by William Shakespeare

10-20 July 2019 in the open air at Reading Abbey Ruins

The country is divided.

King Lear, ruler of the British Empire, intends to split his lands, his wealth, and his power between his three daughters. All but the title of King will be bestowed upon them, yet one decision to turn his back on those that love him the most will change everything. His unpredictable behaviour and fall from grace lead to exile, conflict, madness and death for all around him.

In its second year performing back in the Reading Abbey Ruins (after 2018’s sell-out production of Much Ado About Nothing), Progress Theatre is delighted to present King Lear in the imposing surroundings it deserves, within the walls of the magnificent Chapter House.

No performance on Sunday 14th July

Reading-based Blue Collar Street Food will be onsite serving craft beer, Pimms, prosecco and soft drinks.

See Planning your visit for more information about the venue.



King Lear - Barrie Armstrong
Goneril - Steph Gunner-Lucas
Regan - Becca Douglas
Cordelia/Fool - Abbey Gillett
Duke of Gloucester - Jeremy Radburn
Edmund - Kevin Copping
Edgar - Ruaridh Watt
Duchess of Kent - Kate Shaw
Duke of Cornwall - Matt Tully
Duke of Albany - Oliver Godfrey
Oswald - Tanvi Virmani
Gentleman Knight - Rod Sloan
King of France - Simone Gobber
Duke of Burgundy/Curan - Joseph Doamo
Doctor/First Servant of Cornwall - Steph Dewar
Old Man - Alex Buchan
Herald of Albany - Emma Kellow
Herald of Cordelia - Georgia McCall
Second Knight - Heather Price

Directed by Dan Clarke

14th Annual WriteFest

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11-14 September 2019

Seven brilliant new short plays in our 14th Annual WriteFest.

  • The Bumblebee by Caroline White
  • Cat in a Box by John R. Goodman
  • The Cord by Liz Carroll
  • The Costume Department by Emily Goode
  • How to Put a Scratch in a Dinghy by David Pearson
  • Meeting Mrs Grim by Anthony Travis
  • Perversions by Dan Clarke

Thank you to all the writers who entered.

Auditions take place at the theatre on 1 June 2019 at 3.00pm.
Our auditions are open to anyone and multiple roles are available.  

Come on down and try out for a part!
Audition Notices will be released shortly.

Past events


Past shows at Progress Theatre - Past Seasons





  • Wolves - December
  • 11th Annual WriteFest - November
  • Dracula - October  
  • The Long and the  Short and the Tall - September
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream - July - Caversham Court Gardens
  • Daisy Pulls it Off - July - Progress Youth Theatre
  • Humble Boy - June
  • Suddenly Last Summer - May
  • Stones In His Pockets -  April
  • Marat/Sade - March
  • Steel Magnolias - February
  • The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde - January


    • The Hidden Truth - December - Progress Youth Theatre
    • Brontë - November
    • The 10th Annual Writefest - October
    • Two-Way Mirror - September
    • The Merry Wives of Windsor - July - at Caversham Court Gardens 
    • Gormenghast - July - Progress Youth Theatre
    • The Weir - June
    • Talking Heads - April
    • Animal Farm - March
    • Gaslight - February
    • The Three Musketeers - January


    • Mojo - December - Progress Youth Theatre
    • Noises Off - November
    • The 9th Annual WriteFest - October
    • Darwin and Fitzroy - September
    • Love's Labour's Lost… And Won - July - at Caversham Court Gardens 
    • The Roses of Eyam - July - Progress Youth Theatre
    • God of Carnage - June
    • Not About Heroes - May
    • Lady Windermere's Fan - April
    • Trainspotting - March
    • Bold Girls - February
    • The Wolves of Willoughby Chase - January


    Past Seasons...