The names Red Pear and Hilary King will no doubt transport some Riviera residents back 20 years.
In spring 1995, Hilary founded the non-profit Red Pear Theatre with her Heinz executive husband, Roy, and directed 150 performances in English in Antibes. “For ten years, the Red Pear performed professional English-language shows in Theatre Antibea once a month – except July and August, when you could have billed it as a weight loss program … just too hot!” Hilary recalls.
Following the Red Pear’s closure in 2005, the couple opened up their Cap d’Antibes villa, La Timonerie, to host fundraising cocktail dînatoires. “There were over 40 performances in my home, where the actors gave their services for free so we could send the ticket money to Cambodia, where we helped build three schools,” explains Hilary, who trained in theatre at Rose Bruford College in London.
When her beloved Roy “the Bear” died in 2010, Hilary continued the occasional soirée to raise money for Cambodia before moving to Avignon in 2015 and then returning to her native London in 2019. She has continued to use her theatrical talents. Last week, she organised a charity cabaret for St Martins in the Fields raising £45,000 towards funding 18 Keys, a sanctuary for homeless women in London.
It was during Covid lockdown that Hilary wrote The Red Pear Theatre Story: When the West End Hits the Côte d’Azur, looking back at the many people and details that made the theatre company such a success.
The book was released in March 2023 (£35 UK; £37 for EU) and the official launch takes place June 15 at Theatre Antibea when Hilary brings the Red Pear back to Antibes for one night only. “I return with nostalgia for the old Red Pear audience and a theatrical fairy tale for anyone who arrived in the area after 2015!”
Starting at 7pm, Hilary will kick off the evening with a few anecdotes from the book before veteran film, TV and stage star Anne Reid takes to the stage for a specially-fashioned cabaret, accompanied by Stefan Bednarczyk, whom Nice-Matin called “Un Roi du Cabaret”.
After their performance, both Red Pear veteran Stefan and Anne – who just completed a sell-out run of Marjorie Prime at London’s Menier Chocolate Factory and is fondly remembered as Celia in TV’s Last Tango in Halifax with Derek Jacobi and for the film The Mother with Daniel Craig – will share some Red Pear memories over a glass of wine with guests. Limited tickets (€35) also include a welcome glass of wine and a copy of The Red Pear Theatre Story with a chance of a book signing.
Hilary acknowledges the support of Theatre Antibea and its artistic director Dominique Czapski. For tickets, call 04 93 34 24 30. And hey, if there’s enough interest in Red Pear fare, perhaps Hilary could persuade Dominique to let her have the theatre again one of these days …