The curtain came up on a new act for Louise Henderson yesterday as the North East actress and her new husband Darren Kempson became the first couple to get married at Newcastle Theatre Royal.
The newlyweds took their vows on the stage of the historic venue at 2.30pm in front of a packed audience of family and friends - less than two years after Darren got down on one knee in the stalls at the same venue to ask Louise to be his wife.
Louise, from Walker, who has sung and acted at the Theatre Royal many times over the years in productions such as Jesus Christ Superstar and The King and I with the West End Operatic Society, delivered her lines without a hitch, and was matched word for word by her groom, who was making his stage debut.
“I was a bit nervous before we came in,” admitted Louise, who has also had roles in Eastenders and as Miranda Hart’s body double in popular BBC drama Call the Midwife. Thankfully she didn’t emulate any of the stumbles Miranda is famous for in her BBC1 sitcom, as she made her way to centre stage.
Louise said: “Once we got up here, I just decided to go with the flow and enjoy it. We feel privileged to be the first ones to get married here. It’s a special place for us.”
As Louise walked down the aisle, she stopped to collect her bouquet from the seat which bears her late father’s name.
Jim Henderson was a great fan of the theatre and when he died in 2012, Louise and her family thought it would be a fitting tribute to sponsor a seat at the venue he loved sitting in. It was at the unveiling of his name plaque in December of that year when Darren proposed.
“My dad really loved the theatre and supported me in everything I did,” said Louise, who studied Performing Arts at Newcastle College. “It was a bit of a fluke really that we ended up getting married here.
“When I started looking around for venues, I thought it might be worth emailing the Theatre Royal and it just so happened it was around the time they were starting to take bookings. Then it was all systems go.”
Darren said they couldn’t have asked for more help and support from the staff at the theatre, which has four or five more wedding bookings already in the diary.
“They’ve been absolutely brilliant,” he said. “Nothing has been too much trouble, and with us living down in Essex now, they’ve been great at keeping in touch and everything has gone fantastically today.”
As well as taking place on the stage, the ceremony also included elements of performance, with Darren’s sister Yvette reading out a bespoke poem she’d written for the occasion, and Louise’s actor friend Thomas Hewitt singing Til I Hear You Sing from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Love Never Dies, the title of which is included on her father’s seat inscription.
And as the soundtrack to Superman (a surprise for the groom who is a big fan of the film) signalled the final curtain for proceedings, the script played out to a perfect happily ever after with the couple being given a standing ovation, complete with calls of “bravo!”