JOHN FENNER
 Actor, Leamington Spa, UK

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About Me

I became interested in theatre, especially performing, very early on, and participated in many school productions from about the age of seven. Theatre as a career, however, was not considered by my family to be a suitable option, so the profession was saved at least one overcrowding element! As a non-professional I have been lucky to play many great rôles that probably would otherwise have eluded me.

I trained as a singer and between 1961 and 1974 I performed, almost exclusively, the operas of Gilbert and Sullivan with Coventry Savoy Opera and Spa Opera of Leamington Spa, specialising in comic baritone rôles, although, from time to time, I also played a tenor lead. Looking back, the only G&S opera that I didn’t perform during that period was "The Grand Duke". Towards the end of that time I also played Motel, the tailor, in the British amateur premiere of "Fiddler on the Roof" with Spa Opera.

By the early 70s I was finding that the long rehearsal periods required by the musical companies were beginning to pall, and I was longing to get into straight drama where six week, intensive rehearsal periods were the norm. So, in 1972 there began a very long association with the Loft Theatre Company in Leamington. Apart from a couple of breaks, each of about six years, this continues on an occasional basis. During this time I have been fortunate enough to play many exciting rôles in some wonderful plays. I also continued to make a few appearances with Spa Opera up until 1997.

In 1997 I joined the Talisman Theatre Company in Kenilworth which, like the Loft, is a member of the Little Theatre Guild (LTG). At the time, this was specifically to play Antonio in "The Merchant of Venice", but for seven years I performed almost exclusively there. However, since returning to the Loft in 2005, I have appeared at both theatres and in 2009 made my debut at the Criterion Theatre in Coventry.

From time to time, I have also enjoyed taking on the occasional ‘professional’ engagement, filming historical documentaries, and rôle-playing for various organisations. In 2003 I spent an enjoyable 12 months writing theatre reviews for the BBC WM website. Sadly, BBC economies brought these to a premature end. For three years I toured some anthologies that I put together as entertainments for club meetings, but finished evening presentations at the end of 2009, as they were limiting availability for other performing activities. I still take the odd daytime booking though. I am also webmaster for the Talisman Theatre and Side By Side Theatre. 2011 marked the 50th anniversary of my first production in adult theatre, and I was pleased to be able to share that anniversary with the Criterion's 50th whilst appearing there in "Guys and Dolls". 2012 was another notable year in which I shared my 70th birthday with the Talisman's 70th.

© John Fenner 2017