New Waterside manager has own Cinderella story to tell

Waterside Theatre boss Lee Duffy
Waterside Theatre boss Lee Duffy

The new Waterside Theatre boss has his own Cinderella story to tell – having risen from barman to general manager in 15 years.

Lee Duffy, 38, starts on Monday and has pledged to build upon the foundation laid by departing chief Elizabeth Adlington.

He said: “It’s about a commitment to family theatre and making sure we have a wide ranging programme.

“I know Aylesbury also loves its live music and so I am looking to develop that and see what else we can do.”

He said David Stopps, who runs the legendary Aylesbury Friars music club, was ‘top of his list’ to meet when he starts the job.

Mr Duffy also sees an opportunity in events.

“We’ve got amazing spaces for events at the Waterside so I want to look at growing that so more people can host events and meetings.”

Mr Duffy, who is originally from Towcester, is currently the deputy manager of Milton Keynes Theatre, where he has been for 15 years.

He started his showbiz career in the entertainments team at the Haven holiday park in Great Yarmouth.

“I absolutely loved being around the stage,” he said.

He then landed a job closer to home at the theatre in Milton Keynes and has not looked back since, starting off behind the bar and then progressing through the ranks of Ambassador Theatre Group, which also runs the Waterside.

He has been its deputy manager for five years.

During that 15 year spell Mr Duffy, who lives in Milton Keynes, also worked part-time at Thames Valley Police, including at its witness care unit in Aylesbury.

He also had a spell as operations manager of the Open University’s marketing team while maintaining employment at the theatre.

“The theatre environment just get you,” he said.

“It gets you out of bed every day, and every day is always different.”

He said Aylesbury Waterside Theatre is ‘beautiful, there is no denying that’.

“Especially in the evenings when you see it all lit up. It is absolutely stunning. It’s brilliant to have a custom-built theatre – the facilities there are so good.”

His new role will involve overseeing all the operations at the Waterside, including leading its ‘fantastic team, checking the finances, overseeing ticket sales and liaising with the programming team and producers’.

“I am really, really excited. I have been a deputy for five years but worked for the venue for 15, so this is the perfect time to step up. Aylesbury is a great venue which I have worked closely with over the years. It is a big responsibility but one I can’t wait to get started on, I am really looking forward to it.

Mr Duffy said he underwent a lengthy interview process. It started in late September and lasted throughout October, before he was finally offered the role in November.

His final act at Milton Keynes was overseeing the panto there starring Priscilla Presley, who he said was a ‘joy to work with’.