It’s time to put some bums on those seats

Roy "Chubby" Brown.
Roy "Chubby" Brown.
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THE Grand has unveiled what it believes is a terrific programme of shows for 2013 – but admits it is “vital” local people get out of their living rooms and go to the theatre.

After enduring a lean summer last year – not helped by the recession and everyone staying at home to watch the Olympics on telly – the Grand is hoping for a better start to the new season.

The theatre has already had some good news – securing a £700,000 Arts Council grant to help build an artistic/educational hub. That is an attempt to get people who wouldn’t normally come to a theatre through the door and make the Grand about more than just coming to see a show.

But until the hub is built, it is all about getting bums on seats to watch performances.

The Grand’s 2013 programme certainly looks as if it is a winner.

Highlights include big comedy names such as Bill Bailey, Reginald D Hunter and Jason Manford, music from The Drifters and the Illegal Eagles, and the longest running show in British theatre history, Agatha Christie’s masterpiece The Mousetrap. There are also plenty of children’s shows and contemporary dance productions.

But the theatre needs locals to support it.

“This is going to be a very important season for us because last year was difficult. We had the Open Golf, the Olympics, the Jubilee and people continued to be hit by the recession so it was hard to get people to the theatre,” said Tony Stone, chairman of Blackpool Grand Theatre Arts and Entertainment board.

“We’re not unique in this. Many others have suffered. But we are at a stage now where the early part of this programme, April to July, is vital to the theatre in terms of financial success for the whole year.

“The spring is not the easiest time of the year for products – in other words touring companies putting shows out – so it’s not easy to programme.

“But we think we’ve done well. There aren’t many days or weeks when something isn’t on at the Grand and there are some really interesting things coming up.

“We are hopeful it will be a good year, but we do need people to come and watch shows. So what I’d say to everyone on the Fylde is if you know someone who doesn’t go regularly to the theatre – take them with you to see a show.

“We do need support because these aren’t easy times.”

As well as plenty of comedy - kicking off this month and next with Roy Chubby Brown and Ken Dodd OBE – there will be more music than ever in the Grand, starting on Wednesday with the Pasadena Roof Orchestra and their take on the songs of the 20s and 30s.

There’s also The Solid Silver 60s Show (March 29), the Illegal Eagles (April 20), and Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells For Two and Rainy Days and Mondays, the ultimate Carpenters tribute show, in June.

Local heroes The Lancashire Hotpots perform in July, followed by the The Drifters on their 60th Anniversary Diamond dynasty Tour, and later in the year, in October, Thriller Live - featuring some of Michael Jackson’s best songs - comes to the Grand

There are plenty of shows aimed at children, including ballet versions of Ugly Duckling and Alice in Wonderland before the month’s out.

Later in the year, for kids of all ages, the Grand Theatre presents the pantomime Peter Pan, from December 6 to Sunday January 5, 2014.

Steve Royle will return for his 11th successive Grand panto.

Comedy drama for the new season includes Being Tommy Cooper, on in June, and Cissie and Ada, An Hysterical Rectomy, which is staged in July (Monday 15 and Tuesday 16) and revisits the story and culture behind Les Dawson’s much-loved sketches.

To top it all off, the Grand proudly presents the longest running show of any kind in the history of British theatre, The Mousetrap. To celebrate 60 incredible years on stage The Mousetrap is going on a UK tour for the first time with a star-studded cast.

“The new season contains a varied mix of products,“ said the Grand’s general manager Neil Thomson.

“The Mousetrap, never before having been to the Grand or Blackpool, will appear in November, and I hope our programme has something for everybody and will inspire you to visit us in the not too distant future.”

To book for any show and to select your own seats for a performance, visit the Grand Theatre’s interactive websiteblackpoolgrand.co.uk or call on 01253 74 33 39.