Comedy star Peter Kay was among the audience for one of the plays as Lytham Hall enjoyed its most successful open air theatre season yet.
The Hall's outdoor shows celebrated their 10th season with bumper audiences for the five performances, including two sellouts, to provide an anticipated record £8,000 boost to the Hall's ongoing restoration fund .
The line-up included the staging of the life story of music hall legend Dan Leno, with radio and panto favourite Steve Royle in the title role and Kay was there as a guest of the star.
Bolton-based Kay has rarely been seen in public since suddenly announcing the sudden cancellation of his extension 2018 national tour because what were termed at the time "unforeseen family circumstances".
He followed an appearance on stage for the live screening of the final episodes at Blackpool's Winter Gardens last year by being seen taking a riding on a Blackpool Heritage Tram and calling into a Bispham restaurant for fish and chips last April.
But other appearances have been extremely few and far between and Hall plays organiser Julian Wilde was delighted to see the funnyman in Fylde to support what Julian felt was "a complete comedy masterclass" by Royle as Leno.
"Peter Kay attended at the last moment as a guest of Steveand was delighted with the show," said Julian.
"He seemed in good spirits and happily chatted with cast and their families at the end of the performance.
“It was a tribute to the quality both of the play and the performance by Steve and the cast that we had Peter's company at the Hall after legendary entertainer Roy Hudd had made a point of going to to see it in Eastbourne .
"It was a complete comic master-class from Steve, but the audience were also very quiet and absorbed in the story which centres very poignantly on the mental illness Dan Leno suffered at the end of his life. It was an outstanding experience for everyone.”
The season saw sellout attendances of 500 for the stagings by the Illyria company of Frankenstein and The Tempest, while the turnouts for the Ali Baba and The Forty Thieves, also by Illyria, Cranford by the Chapterhouse Theatre Company and the Leno play totalled 800.
"It was certainly our best season yet," said Julian. "It was the first time in the 10 years that there had been consecutive full houses and attendances for the five plays averaged 350.
"When figures have been finalised later this month, it’s likely that a record donation of over £8,000 will be donated to the Hall restoration fund.
"Two charity raffles raised a further record amount of £1,200 which will be shared by Brian House Children’s Hospital in Blackpool and St. Luke’s Leprosy Hospital in southern India. "
Paul Lomax, deputy manager at the Hall, felt that the warm and sunny weather created just the right atmosphere for open air theatre as the curtain came down on he season over the August bank holiday weekend with the Leno play followed by the Ali Baba performance.
“Very many could not recall a better afternoon for weather," said Paul.
Plans are already under way for the 2020 season with Jane Austen’s Emma, Shakespeare’s Much Ado about Nothing and Gilbert and Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore likely to be included in a five-play programme.