The show will go on this month for an acclaimed drama festival championed by Sir Michael Caine, despite it facing funding challenges.

Leatherhead Drama Festival has the Oscar-winning actor, famous for his roles in Alfie and The Italian Job, as its patron and is once again set to showcase amateur productions and premiere new plays.

Now in its 12th year, the event costs £25,000 to stage, some of which used to come from Mole Valley Borough Council, until this stopped four years ago.

But organiser Meg Brett says they are determined the festival will continue and this year a public appeal for more funds has been re-launched by a festival committee member, Colin Langley.

She says: "So far over £2,000 has been raised from friends and supporters. This will help to keep the Leatherhead Drama Festival firmly in the top league of British drama festivals.

"The most important way for the public to help is by coming along to see the plays, on any or each evening of the festival fortnight.

"Splendid entertainment and great support for the highly talented performers."

The theatre festival, billed as the largest of its kind in the UK, gives a platform to amateur dramatic groups and young actors from schools across the local area.

Caine is unable to present the awards at the gala evening this year and has apologised because he is tied up for the whole of next month.

Ms Brett says: "As he was closely involved at the very start in 2003, he still regards the Leatherhead Festival as ‘his’ festival, for which we are truly proud."

Apart from published and well known plays, Ms Brett says there will be eight new plays by adults and four pieces devised by young people this year.

She says: "Some plays are thought-provoking, others life-affirming and some are even funny, but all of them provide first class entertainment.

"One of the senior groups is coming all the way from Barcelona, Spain. We are quite flattered and we offer a hearty Leatherhead welcome."

Leatherhead Drama Festival; Leatherhead Theatre, Church Street, Leatherhead; call 01372 365141; email; visit and

Junior productions; Monday, April 27, to Thursday, April 30; £8, £2 for those aged 18 and under Adult productions; Friday, May 1, to Friday, May 8; £10 Gala Awards Night; Saturday, May 9; £15