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    George and Amal Clooney help save a theatre near their £12million Berkshire mansion after it was forced to shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic

    • Hollywood A-lister George, 59, and his barrister wife, 42, donated towards The Mill at Sonning Theatre, near their £12million mansion in Berkshire 
    • The theatre will reopen with a much reduced capacity of 70 customers for dinner and show due to social distancing 
    • The late Tim and Eileen Richards found The Mill – which was a derelict building – in 1977, and opened the theatre in 1982
    • It is now run by their daughter, artistic director Sally Hughes, who has received help from the Clooneys in the past
    • In 2018, Sally won approval for a development of five properties after the celebrity couple lodged no objections
    • The likes of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Cameron Mackintosh have been vocal about the government’s ‘weak’ response to help the theatre industry

    George and Amal Clooney have helped save their local theatre after it was shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic.

    The Hollywood A-lister, 59, and the barrister, 42, donated towards The Mill at Sonning Theatre, near their £12million mansion in Berkshire.

    The playhouse is now set to reopen at the end of the month after being forced to close its doors at the start of the COVID-19 lockdown.

    Impressive: George and Amal Clooney have helped save their local theatre after it was shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic (pictured in 2019)

    Actor George and lawyer Amal backed the theatre – also a restaurant – which they regularly go to.

    A theatre spokesman said in a statement shared to Facebook: ‘The Mill at Sonning is to re-open its theatre on 30 October and announces all its in-house theatre productions for 2021.

    ‘The auditorium is to be named in honour of legendary playwright Ray Cooney for his incredible support for the venue during lockdown.

    ‘After nine months in lockdown, The Mill at Sonning, the UK’s only dinner theatre, is to re-open its theatre on 30 October with a winter season of comedy, magic, cabarets and plays.

    Back on its feet: The Hollywood A-lister, 59, and the barrister, 42, donated towards The Mill at Sonning Theatre (pictured), near their £12million mansion in Berkshire

    Back on its feet: The Hollywood A-lister, 59, and the barrister, 42, donated towards The Mill at Sonning Theatre (pictured), near their £12million mansion in Berkshire

    Comeback: The playhouse (pictured) is now set to reopen at the end of the month after being forced to close its doors at the start of the COVID-19 lockdown

    Comeback: The playhouse (pictured) is now set to reopen at the end of the month after being forced to close its doors at the start of the COVID-19 lockdown

    Lap of luxury: The celebrity couple bought their Georgian property for £7.5 million in 2014 and moved into the lavish abode three years later

    Lap of luxury: The celebrity couple bought their Georgian property for £7.5 million in 2014 and moved into the lavish abode three years later

    ‘Since July, when the theatre celebrated its 38th birthday, The Mill has only been able to operate its adjoining restaurant with reduced seating, but this together with fundraising and donations from Mill Angel supporters and Hollywood star George Clooney and his wife Amal, who are near neighbours and regular attenders, have been a lifeline to ensure the venue’s survival.

    ‘Artistic Director Sally Hughes singles out special praise for the playwright Ray Cooney, whose legendary farces are performed regularly at the venue. 

    ‘The Mill will reopen with a much reduced capacity of 70 customers for dinner and show due to social distancing, but the venue has come up with an ingenious way to hide the empty seats that have to be left between bookings.’ 

    They're fans! Actor George and lawyer Amal backed the theatre - also a restaurant (bar pictured) - which they regularly go to

    They’re fans! Actor George and lawyer Amal backed the theatre – also a restaurant (bar pictured) – which they regularly go to

    New rules: The Mill will reopen with a much reduced capacity of 70 customers for dinner and show due to social distancing

    New rules: The Mill will reopen with a much reduced capacity of 70 customers for dinner and show due to social distancing

    The late Tim and Eileen Richards found The Mill – which was a derelict building – in 1977, and opened the theatre in 1982.

    It is now run by their daughter, artistic director Sally Hughes, who has received help from the Clooneys in the past. 

    In 2018, Sally won approval for a development of five properties after the celebrity couple lodged no objections. 

    She had the pair over to watch performances and allowed them to use her car park for the many contractors who were renovating their nine-bedroom, eight-bathroom mansion, which they bought for £7.5 million in 2014 and moved into three years later. 

    History: The late Tim and Eileen Richards found The Mill - which was a derelict building - in 1977, and opened the theatre in 1982

    History: The late Tim and Eileen Richards found The Mill – which was a derelict building – in 1977, and opened the theatre in 1982

    Background: The Mill is now run by Tim and Eileen's daughter, artistic director Sally Hughes, who has received help from the Clooneys in the past

    Background: The Mill is now run by Tim and Eileen’s daughter, artistic director Sally Hughes, who has received help from the Clooneys in the past

    Background: In 2018, Sally won approval for a development of five properties after the celebrity couple lodged no objections

    Background: In 2018, Sally won approval for a development of five properties after the celebrity couple lodged no objections 

    West End shows to return with special coronavirus measures 

    The Nimax Group, the owner of the Apollo, Duchess, Garrick, Lyric, Palace and Vaudeville theatres, has announced it will welcome patrons back to the West End from October. 

    • The venues will use the following measures:
    • The audience will be socially distanced with seats removed, giving patrons more legroom.
    • Patrons will have fill out a health questionnaire before they arrive. 
    • if you feel unwell before the play, Nimax will offer you a refund or a change of date until 10am on the day of the performance. 
    • Temperature checks and masks will be compulsory, with hand sanitation zones around each theatre. 
    • Staff will ensure a one-way system is followed with audience members marshalled to their seats and social distancing queues outside the toilets. 
    • There will also be click-and-collect drinks for audience members to purchase during the interval, to avoid queueing.
    • Each theatre will also undergo regular deep-cleans. 
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    The theatre owner built the flats to help pay a £1 million bill caused by woodworm at the theatre — a converted 18th-century flour mill on a small island in the Thames.

    ‘The Clooneys are regular members of the audience at The Mill and want it to be on a secure financial footing,’ a source told MailOnline at the time. 

    The likes of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Cameron Mackintosh have been vocal about the government’s ‘weak’ response to help the theatre industry. 

    Last month, venues were allowed to open for the first time since the start of lockdown, but with a majority of seats remaining empty to ensure strict guidelines, many owners say it is not financially viable.  

    There has finally been some green shoots of recovery with the owner of the Apollo, Duchess, Garrick, Lyric, Palace and Vaudeville theatres announcing they will welcome audiences again from October.

    The Apollo will be the first Nimax Group theatre to return, following seven months of closed doors.

    It will open with This is Going to Hurt on October 22, which will run until November 8. The play is written and performed by ex-doctor Adam Kay with the first performance free and for NHS staff only.

    However, Nimax has admitted its most popular production, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, still needs more work and is expected back at the 1,400-seater Palace Theatre early in the new year.

    Theatre-goes will still be able to enjoy favourites such as  Everybody’s Talking About Jamie and comedy The Play That Goes Wrong, both returning in November.  

    Earlier this year, it was reported that George and Amal, who share twins Ella and Alexander, three, are building a shed for ‘security purposes’ in the grounds of their sprawling listed mansion home. 

    Candid: The likes of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Cameron Mackintosh (pictured in 2012) have been vocal about the government's 'weak' response to help the theatre industry

    Candid: The likes of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Cameron Mackintosh (pictured in 2012) have been vocal about the government’s ‘weak’ response to help the theatre industry

    In a planning request to the local council, their new addition – complete with what appears to be a toilet – is described as a simple, single-storey timber construction with a pitched roof clad in cedar shingles. 

    The duo’s abode, which stands on an idyllic stretch of the Thames, is secluded by trees on acres of land – but it appears they are keen to beef up security as the famous home attracts more tourists. 

    It will be built in the style of a garden shed near their gravel driveway at the Georgian property.

    The quiet life: Earlier this year, it was reported that George and Amal are building a shed for 'security purposes' in the grounds of their sprawling listed mansion home (pictured in 2019)

     The quiet life: Earlier this year, it was reported that George and Amal are building a shed for ‘security purposes’ in the grounds of their sprawling listed mansion home (pictured in 2019)

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