PROFESSIONAL drama makes a welcome return to Chester this summer in the form of open air theatre in Grosvenor Park.

On offer will be Shakespearean comedy Much Ado About Nothing and a family show based on the mythological Greek hero Hercules.

This is the first time professional theatre will have been staged in Chester since the closure of the Gateway three years ago.

Andrew Bentley, director of Chester Performs, said: “This will be professionally produced theatre to the very highest standard; our aim is to make something that Chester can be really proud of on an international stage.”

Chester Performs, with the help of Cheshire West & Chester Council, is creating a new theatre company to produce all 28 performances from July 15-August 8.

The beautiful setting of Grosvenor Park in the shadow of St John’s Church will provide a dramatic back-drop that should appeal to residents and tourists alike.

With a 350 capacity, the bespoke theatre-in-the-round aims to create an intimate relationship between the actors and the audience, with space for picnics as well as a bar and stands selling seasonal food and waterproofs in case it rains.

Auditions for the cast are being held at Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London but by northern directors to ensure the team has a strong regional representation.

The re-telling of Hercules is designed to be an action-packed family offer while Much Ado will be more traditional.

Tickets, which go on sale from next month, start from just £10 but increase in price as each production sells out. To find out more visit: