Richard’s getting ready for take-off

Return to the Forbidden Planet, which is being produced by Poulton-born Richard Darbourne
Return to the Forbidden Planet, which is being produced by Poulton-born Richard Darbourne
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Producer Richard Darbourne is certainly hoping that ‘Luck Be A Lady’ for his next theatrical venture.

After the success of his company’s Avenue Q last year, including a summer stop-off in Blackpool, and the ongoing tour of Return To The Forbidden Planet, there are plans for a move into the West End for 2015.

After nine years working as a producer – and four years ‘making a living’ from it, Poulton-born Richard is happy with his company’s progress.

“Maybe five, even three, years ago I was thinking six months ahead, now I’m working two years ahead and looking at what to do in 2017,” he said. “The audiences are just seeing Planet and we are on to the future.

“We begin each year with a mantra; financial stability, sustainability, growth. Last year was profitability.”

And what about 2015?

“This year is ‘West End’,” he admitted, excitedly.

“Fingers crossed. Let’s say luck might be our lady,” he added, referencing one of the best-known songs from musical Guys And Dolls.

Last summer, former Baines High School pupil Richard was involved in producing a version of the classic at Chichester Festival Theatre – with Cuban ballet star Carlos Acosta as choreographer.

“I was one of the three producers on that, and we are part of the future life of that show,” he said. “It had great reviews, so fingers crossed.”

Richard is back on the Fylde this week, checking up on Return To The Forbidden Planet as it comes to the Grand Theatre, Blackpool.

Planet manages to blend a loose interpretation of the story of The Tempest, with a rock and roll soundtrack – songs include Wipe Out, A Teenager In Love, Good Vibrations and Great Balls Of Fire, with the kitsch of a sci-fi B-movie.

So it ticks a lot of boxes for potential audience members, as proven by the interest in this revival which marks the show’s 25th anniversary year.

One of the earliest jukebox-style musicals, and the first actor-musician production, Planet is accessible to all ages, Richard said.

“The worst thing for a young theatre-goer is a boring piece of Shakespeare,” he said. “If your audience isn’t at the centre of the thing, that it’s all being done for them, then we are doing something wrong.

“That’s what Avenue Q, Guys And Dolls and Planet have at their heart.”

And he promises ‘a whole lot of fun’ and a show that ‘doesn’t take itself seriously’ for Planet, adding that: “It all adds up to a massive night’s entertainment. And of course, that makes you think of Blackpool, which is one of the reasons we chose to come here.”

* Return To The Forbidden Planet, Grand Theatre, Blackpool, from Monday until Saturday, May 2. Call (01253) 290190.