In tune with steel city

pictured is Jenny McKeown
pictured is Jenny McKeown

Jenny McKeown, 30, lives with husband Richard in Ridgeway on the outskirts of Sheffield. She teaches German and Italian at St Mary’s High School in Chesterfield.

Both she and Richard are members of Dore Gilbert and Sullivan Society and will be appearing in the company’s next production, HMS Pinafore and The Zoo, at Sheffield University Drama Studio, from April 12 to 16.

The Montgomery Theatre

I’ve liked the Montgomery Theatre, hidden away theatre in the middle of town on Surrey Street, since I first went there around four years ago. The impression of a “proper” theatre, invisible except for a modest entrance at street level, has stayed with me ever since.

I was delighted therefore to have the opportunity to actually perform there last year as I appeared in Ruddigore with the Dore Gilbert and Sullivan Society. I had a wonderful part, an eccentric called Mad Margaret, a name which says it all.

This year we’re back at our more regular venue, the University Drama Studio, which is an equally impressive and very unusal little theatre, a cleverly converted church that retains many of the original features and is filled with atmosphere. This year’s show is the far more familiar HMS Pinafore, in which I’m playing Little Buttercup. We’re also performing a much shorter and lesser-known piece, The Zoo – Sullivan without Gilbert – which should prove very interesting for the audience.

Millhouses Park Café

When I first started work in Chesterfield I lived very near to Millhouses Park for two years so the park and above all the café became a favourite place for me and Richard, who is now my husband, to spend time at the weekend. The cakes are to die for and you can even kid yourself that the healthy walk in the park has burnt off a few of the calories. It’s a very special place for me.

The Swan pub, Ridgeway

Since Richard and I moved to Ridgeway we have become regulars at The Swan. It’s a proper village pub where you are treated like a friend and where we feel really welcome.

You could find us there at any time, whether for a late drink after a rehearsal, an opportunity to seriously lose at the quiz or an amazing homemade pie because cooking feels too much like hard work! The pub is so supportive that last year we even had an opening night coach party to see Ruddigore in Sheffield followed by a fish and chip supper at The Swan. And they’ll be coming to see us now we’re back at the Drama Studio.

Rafters restaurant, Nether Green

This is definitely my favourite restaurant in Sheffield, but not a place for a last-minute trip out. For a weekend visit we book at least a month ahead and we’re never disappointed.

The food is beautifully balanced so we always leave feeling full but never bloated. I would go there every week if I could.

But I’m not sure what so much good food would do for my chances of playing leading roles in Gilbert and Sullivan – though Little Buttercup isn’t supposed to be skinny!

In fact, she’s described as the “rosiest, roundest, and reddest beauty in all Spithead.” I don’t think I really fit into any of those categories but that’s the magic of theatre for you!

The Lyceum

I know it’s not a very original choice but I just love the feeling of going to a proper old-style theatre.

The smell, the seats, the curtains, the ice cream in the interval and the queues for the toilets all come together to make a “real” theatre experience.

I love straight plays and musicals and of course Gilbert and Sullivan is a must-see whenever there’s an opportunity!

J Harvey and Co, London Road

I know an opticians is a strange choice, perhaps, but the owner, Richard Cotton, is a long-standing member of the Dore Gilbert and Sullivan Society and his shop in London Road offers so much more than the casual observer might guess.

Above the endless varieties of frames and rooms for eye-testing is an Aladdin’s Cave of costumes made for Dore shows through the years.

Bearskin hats for Iolanthe jostle for a place with a series of wigs, tiny fairy costumes, voluminous Mikado kimonos and village maid ensembles. Sometimes I even go there to buy glasses!

Countryside around Ridgeway

I love living in this area and the accessibility of the countryside. A walk from our front door takes you within minutes to farms, fields and tracks through the wilderness.

It’s also wonderful to feel part of a village community where people will stop and chat as you pass by and it’s great to know you’re not isolated and there are plenty of local shops and amenities.

It really does represent the best of city living and country life.

Yo Sushi

A trip to Meadowhall used to be my idea of hell but not since discovering Yo Sushi. I love both the concept and the food.

I also attempt every time to convince myself that Japanese food is actually good for me – not sure I’m fooling anyone, though.

And you can’t mis it because it’s right in the middle of the mall just outside the upper entrance to House of Fraser.

Paradise Square

I don’t really know why I like this place so much. I think it’s because of the complete contrast to the rest of the city centre area – it’s like finding yourself transported to another era and another town!

There’s so little of Georgian Sheffield left intact that strangers to the city must surely be surprised when they stumble on to this piece of the past tucked away behind the cathedral, a reminder of the way things were before the arrival of the Industrial Revolution and the development of Sheffield into a major city.