Sweet Charity

Pimlico Opera in Prison

HMP Bronzefield
Fri 6 March – Sat 14 March 2020


Pimlico opera’s prison project began in 1987.

The first performance in prison took place in 1989 at Wormwood Scrubs, Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro and Walton’s The Bear.

The first joint production with prisoners took place a year later with people serving life sentences.

Since then we have taken over 60,000 members of the public into prison.

We have worked with more than 1,000 prisoners and have given crucial first employment to prisoners on their release.

Over 10,000 prisoners have seen an opera performance.

Pimlico Opera in prison
Les Miserables

How It Works

A cast, mainly of inmates, are taken from their normal regime and work full-time for five weeks with professionals to produce a show of the highest quality with a full orchestra.

Five weeks of intensive rehearsal, all day, every weekday, can be challenging. Many prisoners have never been to the theater, some cannot read, English is a second language for some.

Prison staff bind together the rehearsal process with prison life: legal and family visits, unexpected lock-downs, court hearings and so on.

There are several public performances and further performances for fellow prisoners and prison staff.


There is powerful evidence for the benefit that this work has to society, the public purse and the wider economy.

Improvements in prisoner rehabilitation and the lowering of re-offending can only be a good thing.

With professional help, I have learnt to act and dance and to express my own feelings. I have become much happier and more confident.

The project teaches us to push ourselves through our fears and has given me a new lease of life

I integrate better with other fellow residents, prison staff. I believe our prisoners and prison staff need this project

Testimonials from cast members from Sweet Charity at HMP Bronzefield 2018

Sweet Charity
Pimlico Opera


This prison project continues to thrive thanks to the generosity of trusts and individuals.

We receive no public subsidy and are reliant wholly on donations.


Performance History


HMP Bronzefield  Sweet Charity 


HMP High Down Les Miserables 


HMP ISIS  Our House


HMP Bronzefield Sister Act

2013 & 2012

HMP Erlestoke, Wiltshire

Les Miserables and West Side Story


HMP Send Surrey Sugar

2010 & 2009

HMP Wandsworth

Carmen The Musical and West Side Story


HMP Kingston Sweeney Todd

(production cancelled)


HMP  Wandsworth Les Miserables


HMP Bronzefield, Middlesex Chicago


HMP Coldingley, Surrey Assassins


HMP Ashwell, Leicestershire Assassins


HMP Wormwood Scrubs Guys & Dolls

2001 & 2002

HMP Winchester

West Side Story and Threepenny Opera 


HMP Downview, Surrey Threepenny Opera


HMP Bullingdon, Oxford West Side Story


Mountjoy Prison, Ireland West Side Story


HMP Wandsworth West Side Story

1993 & 1992

HMP Wandsworth West Side Story and Guys & Dolls


HMP Wormwood Scrubs Sweeney Todd