Blackpool Grand Theatre’s New Year and new beginnings

4 January 2022

Blackpool Grand Theatre ends 2021 with relief, having completed a full run of a phenomenal 52-performances of its incredible pantomime, Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs!

 The show has received outstanding critic and customer reviews and we are sad to wave ‘bye bye’ to an incredible cast which included Vicky Entwistle (Coronation Street) as the Wicked Queen, Steve Royle (Britain’s Got Talent, Comic, Presenter) as Muddles, Jamie Steen as Dame, Chris Warner-Drake as Prince Frederick, and the beautiful voice of Ellie Green as Snow White. Not forgetting of course, the fantastic Seven Dwarfs! All put together by a fantastic creative team from Martin Dodd of UK Productions Ltd.

One customer said of the show: “Despite all the Covid rules and restrictions we had a fantastic time and laughed like we were kids again.” Others said: “Enjoyable from start to finish” and of course: “The very best place to see a pantomime.”

Peter Kay, a welcome visitor to this year’s panto

The Blackpool Grand pantomime is so renowned it receives a wealth of celebrity visitors including the likes of comic genius Peter Kay, Hayley Tamaddon (Emmerdale, Coronation Street and Winner of Dancing on Ice with local skating star Dan Whiston), Warwick Davis (Willow, Star Wars, Harry Potter) and the Rt. Hon. Nigel Evans MP (Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons) to name a few.

The theatre went ‘all out’ to ensure the safety of customers following all Government requirements and adapting at every stage, the cast and creatives remained in their own bubble and employees received additional training to ensure customer safety.

Ruth Eastwood, Chief Executive said: “After adapting last year with our first online streamed Pantomime Pantomonium, we thought this year would be easier. However, we’ve all seen the impact the Omicron variant has had once again on the Arts and theatres across the UK. We are delighted that through the hard work and dedication of artists and staffs that we made it through all 52 performances. That’s not saying it hasn’t been a struggle. The theatre is still fighting overall to maintain its presence and deliver a programme for local people and families in extremely uncertain times.

“Blackpool Grand prides itself on its programme of works for young people and, this coming year, will be presenting David Walliams’ Gangsta Granny, partnering with Children’s Theatre Partnerships to present George Orwell’s Animal Farm and for the younger audience’ television favourites Peppa Pig, Milkshake! Live and as an introduction to classical dance, Northern Ballet’s Pinocchio.

“Blackpool Grand Theatre has always been, and will continue to be, committed to increasing access to culture and broaden its audience.  We will ensure routes are available for people from every background to discover the joy of live performance. Our leadership team and Board aim to become increasingly diverse as, we believe, like Rt. Hon. Nadine Dorries MP the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport that access to the arts through diversity of class and socio-economic background are incredibly important.

“As a National Portfolio Organisation, we challenge ourselves to be even more ambitious, building on success and overcoming barriers to attendance. This will mean that Blackpool Grand will work with more young people than ever before from disadvantaged backgrounds, so they may experience life-changing cultural experiences. We couldn’t achieve this goal without the support of Arts Council England, Blackpool Council and our other funding partners.”

Producer Martin Dodd of UK Productions said: “Working with Blackpool Grand and all the team is a joy. Their commitment to ensuring every visitor is given the best experience is something to be commended. I’d like to thank this year’s incredible cast for their diligence to help us achieve the 52-performance run.”

Blackpool Grand theatre will release a new season this January for the first half of the year. Highlights already include: Ellen Kent’s incredibly staged operas Bizet’s Carmen and Puccini’s Madama Butterfly; Will Mellor and Ralf Little in their Two Pints Podcast!; Joe Pasquale in Some Mother’s Do ‘Ave ‘Em; US Stars Patrick Duffy and Linda Purl in Catch Me If You Can; An Evening with Wayne Sleep or Craig Revel Horwood; The Four Seasons by James Wilton Dance; from the author of War Horse, Michael Morpurgo’s Private Peaceful; and Olivier Award-Winning comedy-drama from Jim Cartwright, The Rise and Fall of Little Voice starring TV favourite Shobna Gulati (Coronation Street, Dinnerladies, Loose Women), British soap royalty Ian Kelsey (Emmerdale, Casualty) and ‘the girl of a thousand voices’ and two-time Drama Desk Award Nominee Christina Bianco, as Little Voice.  Not forgetting a raft of A-list comedians including Omid Djalili, Ed Byrne, Katherine Ryan, Julian Clary, Jason Manford, Rob Beckett, Milton Jones, Harry Hill and Jon Richardson.

As previously announced, 2022 will also bring a new Chief Executive to Blackpool Grand, Adam Knight. Knight joins the Grand from HQ Theatres and the Lyceum Theatre in Crewe, where he is currently Theatre Director.

Adam Knight said: ”It’s a great privilege to be offered the chance to take over the reins at Blackpool’s Grand Theatre. Not only is it one of the country’s most iconic heritage assets, it is a vibrant, bold and ambitious organisation committed to creating opportunities for all kinds of people to enjoy, participate and learn through theatre.  Theatre is my passion, and I look forward to sharing that passion with audiences, artists and staff at the Grand Theatre.”

Blackpool Grand is looking forward to a better year ahead but is being cautious. We know, like many theatres, we have a fight ahead…  Audiences are slowly returning (still only at 27% of previous attendance figures), as they are cautious too.  Blackpool Grand is investing in 2022 and hoping locals will support this lovely theatre by attending, as we think it’s going to need a good year, or possibly even two, to recover fully. We can only hope no further restrictions come in affecting the arts and our regional theatres.

To discover what’s on at Blackpool Grand Theatre visit blackpoolgrand.co.uk

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