Ovation Theatres


Ovation Theatres was set-up in July 1997 by John & Katie Plews for the specific purpose of opening and running a theatre on the site of a derelict Victorian Music Hall in Highgate Village, London N6.  The venue is situated above the Gatehouse Pub.  Originally, the goals were very clear – to create a successful fringe/pub/independent style theatre presenting all types of theatrical entertainment to an audience of all backgrounds. Initially audiences were drawn from the immediate locality and as the theatre became established, it attracted audiences from the greater London area, the rest of the UK and, via tourists, from the rest of the world. For over twenty-five years Ovation have owned and operated Upstairs at the Gatehouse. As of 15th April 2023 Ovation had staged 652 productions, 6,282 performances and sold 401,574 tickets.  The company now specialises in licensing their original plays and musicals. The titles can be found on this website under script licensing.

John has been associated with the theatre since leaving school. He completed the Technical Course at LAMDA and worked in both the provinces and West End including three years as Stage Manager at the Theatre Royal, Windsor. During the seventies John was a cruise director for Cunard, P & O and Princess Cruises. He also spent some time in local government running theatres, cinemas and civic venues.  John continues his involvement with fringe theatre as Chair of SIT (Society of Independent Theatres) www.sitgb.org

Katie has been involved with Ovation since 1985 becoming a producer as well as looking after the financial side of the company.  For the first few years she combined her time at Ovation with being a full time mother, bringing up two daughters who both now have successful careers within the wonderful world of theatre.

Originally, Ovation was established, in 1985, to produce business conferences, product launches, roadshows, award ceremonies and corporate videos (see ‘Corporate Events’ on www.ovationproductions.com). Theatrically, apart from numerous productions at Upstairs at the Gatehouse, Ovation have produced successful shows at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival including Black Comedy in 1996, Forever Plaid in 1999 (followed by a National Tour) and Jessica Martin’s  Veronique – A Life Long Cult in 2001. This was followed by Jim Bowen’s You Can’t Beat a Bit of Bully which played Edinburgh in 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2010 and then Ovation took the cult musical There’s a Guy Works Down the Chip Shop Swears He’s Elvis to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2015.

Katie and John are also involved in the Highgate Village community, especially the Highgate Society.  


John & Katie very much appreciate the generosity of our Patrons who have helped to support the theatre over the past twenty five years.

Elizabeth Arundale, Robbie Hill & Harley Atkinson, Andrea & PJ Beaghton, Penny & James Benfield, Roy Berger, Ouida & Keith Bradley, Lucy & Harald Brenden, Janine & Tony Burden, John Caird, Robert Chambers, David Crook, Lindy & Mike Crowcroft, Helen & Colin David, David Davidson, Les Dennis, Amelia Done, David Dutton, Viveke & John Evans, Jackie & Michael Gee, Annie Gray, Chris Hall,  Miranda & Julian Halsby, Ruth Hazeldine, Leila & Stephen Hodge, Amanda Holden, Gary Kemp, Antonia & Peter Leach, Sue & Peter Leon, Fiona & Robert Lindo,  Moyra Smith & Paul Marshall, Lindy Mason, George Meyer, Terri Boohan & Fergus Munro, Ceridwen & Stephen Panke, Sally & Michael Payton, Emma Prinsley, Mairin Prior, Kate Fahy & Jonathan Pryce, Pippa & Bob Rothenberg, Jenny Russell, Vicky Schaverien, Catherine Utley & Ian Simpson, Julia & David Smith, Eileen & Mike Stark, Trudie & Gordon Sumner, Gill Adams & Alan Taylor, Gillian Taylor, Hilary & Paul Terzeon, Peter Thompson, Diana & John Uff, Michele & Clive Warshaw, Susan Wolff.