A sunshine and showers season

The cast of Illyria's Pirates of Penzance at Lytham Hall
The cast of Illyria's Pirates of Penzance at Lytham Hall
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The lluminations are over and the first frosts of winter are here but it was a summer of sunshine and showers in every sense for open air theatre enthusiasts on the coast.

Four shows at Lytham Hall saw an increase in attendance of 30 per cent, but no increase in ticket prices.

Illyria’s well–received musical Pirates of Penzance (right) drew over 500 people to see locally-born James Dangerfield in the lead role of Frederic on a glorious evening.

In marked contrast picnic rugs became tarpaulins as the company paddled though a spirited performance of Twelfth Night in a heavy downpour.

Pendle Productions’ three open air shows at Lytham’s Lowther Gardens met with mixed success and weather.

Romeo and Juliet in a chilly early June was sparsely attended, but the five Wednesday midsummer family shows in the mostly sunny Rose Gardens continued to build an encouraging following.

The Family Spooktacular over Halloween broke new ground and laid firm foundations for 2012.

After 25 years the popular promenade plays in Lancaster’s Williamson Park came to a close, at least for the forseeable future, with a production of Merlin.

Despite good attendances, cuts in arts funding have forced the Duke’s company into a rethink of their annual programme and for 2012 they will commemorate the 400th anniversary of the Lancashire Witches trial in the city with a marquee performance in Williamson Park.

Venues such as Rossall School at Fleetwood which can provide an atmospheric open air setting for a touring company and have few overheads are in a stronger position.

The annual visit of the Preston-based Dean Taylor’s Shakespeare company again proved a popular attraction at Rossall in late June with William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.

Blackpool itself was once again without any outdoor shows either large or small, leaving Lytham to score heavily with Proms starring Status Quo, Katherine Jenkins and Boyzone.

It looks like it could be the same next year with Alfie Boe already confirmed for the proms and Lytham Hall open its open air season on Friday June 15 with the full programme due to be announced next month.