The great outdoors

James Reynard and Pippa Meekings
James Reynard and Pippa Meekings
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There’s special praise for theatregoers on the Fylde coast from the director of one of the country’s leading open air theatre companies.

James Reynard, artistic director of the Gloucester-based Rain or Shine Theatre Company, will be bringing his production of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing to Lytham Hall on Tuesday June 14, the first in a season of four outdoor plays.

James is enthusiastic about the response expected from the Fylde coast audience and says: “This will be the 14th consecutive year we have played in Lytham and St Annes and we are looking forward to the usual warm and knowledgeable audience. We have very much enjoyed our time at King Edward and Queen Mary School and are happy now to move to a more spacious and delightfully quiet arena.”

Rehearsals are in full swing now as the company prepare for a 101 day tour starting in Hampshire at the end of May. They will play at 64 different venues, with Lytham Hall being their only Lancashire date.

Pippa Meekings who won good reviews in last year’s production of The Importance of Being Earnest is also glad to be returning to Lytham and believes that Much Ado is one of Shakespeare’s very best comedies.

“There’s all the usual Shakespearean love, loathing and mistaken identities and one of his great comic characters in Constable Dogberry,” she said.

“We will be a bit different from the film version with Kenneth Branagh, Emma Thompson, Richard Briers and Keanu Reeves, but I think our style will be a big hit with the Lytham audience!.

Following Rain and Shine at Lytham will be Illyria with Oliver Gray’s production of Twelfth Night on Wednesday July 6, Gilbert and Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance on Thursday July 14, and in the afternoon of Bank Holiday Sunday August 28 the Roald Dahl favourite Fantastic Mr Fox. Tickets for all four plays are on sale online on and and locally from Lytham Hall (01253) 736652, Lowther Pavilion (01253) 794221, Plackitt and Booth, Booksellers in Clifton Street, Lytham (01253) 796958 the Lytham St. Annes Express Office (01253) 724236 and Stringers Homelife in Lytham (01253) 740700.