Bringing theatre and cinema together

The Magistrate Helen Atkinson Wood and Richard O'Callaghan.
The Magistrate Helen Atkinson Wood and Richard O'Callaghan.
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We might not have seen much of it during Channel 4’s now infamous documentary about the resort, but there are plenty of people on the Fylde coast who clearly appreciate a bit of culture.

That much is obvious from response to the Odeon cinema’s long-running link up with the National Theatre, which has proved an overwhelming success.

The link-ups began around five years ago when some bright spark, trying to work out how to boost both cinema attendances and how to get more people to see classic plays and musicals, came up with the idea of beaming a live performance from the theatre into the nation’s cinemas.

The Odeon cinema in Blackpool is one of those which joined the scheme and it has been a huge success.

Ahead of the latest cinema-theatre partnership - when The Magistrate, a farce written and first performed in the 1880s, is screened at the Odeon live from the West End next Thursday (January 17) - Odeon manager Colin Alexander said the events are almost always sell-outs.

“Ever since was started doing these live events they have gone down really well,” said Colin.

“What is especially good about it is that Blackpool is one of the strongest performing Odeon’s in the country when it comes to these plays beamed live from the National Theatre.

“The tickets always sell very fast so the people of the Fylde definitely want to come to these type of things.

“We have already sold out of Premier seat tickets for next week’s play so it looks as if it is going to be another very popular one.”

The Magistrate, penned by English playwright Arthur Wing Pinero 130 years ago, is about a respectable magistrate who finds himself caught up in a series of scandalous events that almost cause his disgrace.

It has been regularly performed at theatres throughout the country and is in the midst a run at the National Theatre, with John Lithgow and Nancy Carroll in the lead roles.

The Times review of the original production said that for “deftness of construction, ingenuity and genuine fun” the play was the equal of any French farce, and claimed it made the public laugh until their sides ache. High praise indeed.

As well as The Magistrate, there are two more link-ups with the National Theatre already booked in.

People, a play by Alan Bennett, will be beamed live to the Blackpool Odeon on March 16 and 21. It stars Frances de la Tour, who has also starred at the National Theatre in Bennett’s The History Boys and The Habit of Art.

Then there is This House, an acclaimed play by James Graham, which will be screened at the Odeon on May 16. Tickets for all three cinema experiences are available to buy now at

Next Thursday’s screening of The Magistrate starts at 7pm and tickets cost £15, seniors £13.