Open air show set to be pork of the town

The crowd of 750 for Illyria's production ofThe Twits at Lytham Hall
The crowd of 750 for Illyria's production ofThe Twits at Lytham Hall
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IN the midst of freezing temperatures, icy roads, and ill-behaved teenagers chucking snowballs at your head, next summer seems a world away.

But here’s something to warm the cockles of the heart – Lytham Hall has announced its programme of four outdoor theatre shows for later this year.

Staged in the parklands at the Georgian Grade One Listed mansion, the finalised summer 2013 programme includes children’s favourite Babe the Sheep Pig.

Also pencilled in are Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (Friday June 14), As You Like It (Sunday July 7), and The Mikado (Tuesday July 16).

Following their success with Roald Dahl shows on the past three summer Bank Holiday Sunday afternoons, Fylde coast regulars Illyria – who specialise in bringing top quality open-air theatre to locations throughout the UK – will be back at Lytham Hall on August 25 with David Wood’s adaptation of Dick King-Smith’s 1983 novel, made famous by the 1995 film version Babe.

Oliver Grey, artistic director of Illyria, believes the performance of Babe the Sheep Pig is likely to be one of the highlights of the season for his cast.

“The audience of 750 at Lytham Hall for The Twits last summer was the biggest at any of the 60 venues we visited around the country and the cast just loved their welcome and enthusiasm,” he said.

“Babe is excellently adapted for the stage by David Wood and I think it will be a very attractive draw.”

Pat Booth, from Lytham booksellers Plackitt and Booth, feels that Babe will appeal to a family audience.

“It is a much loved children’s book and we are always being asked for it, so I think it will be a most popular show,” said Mr Booth.

“I think also that it perfectly complements the other three productions – Pride and Prejudice, As You Like It and The Mikado – and is an excellent finale to a carefully balanced programme of plays.”

This summer marks the fourth season of open air shows at Lytham Hall.

The two Gilbert and Sullivan operettas in the past two years by Illyria – Pirates of Penzance and HMS Pinafore – have drawn large audiences and been very well-received.

A special highlight last summer was Shakespeare’s Henry V with St Annes born James Dangerfield in the title role.

But this year looks set to be the best yet – and it will be easier to buy tickets too after the addition of two new ticket outlets for the 2013 performances, with no increase in prices.

Open air theatre organiser Julian Wilde explained: “The Grand Theatre in Blackpool and Preston’s Guild Hall will be new ticket outlets for the coming summer which brings the total to 12.

“I think it’s important that theatre-goers can buy their tickets online or in person and these two new selling points give everyone a wider choice.”

Tickets for all four Lytham Hall performances will go on sale on April 22. There will be details on how and where to buy tickets nearer the time.