Sunshine brings out record audiences

Babe the Sheep-Pig performance at Lytham Hall.
Babe the Sheep-Pig performance at Lytham Hall.
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Attendance records were broken as families flocked to Lytham Hall for the final outdoor play of the summer.

The open air season of four plays which has had the Express as one of 11 patrons saw the total attendance figure almost double this summer.

An audience of more than 500 enjoyed an all-action production by Illyria’s cast of six of David Wood’s Babe the Sheep Pig, adapted for the stage from Dick King-Smith popular children’s novel, bringing the figure for the four productions to more than 2,000.

As Saturday showers gave way to a warm and sunny Sunday afternoon local families were joined by visitors from Lancashire, Yorkshire and Cheshire and Illyria’s company manager Alastair Chisholm who played Farmer Hogget was delighted with the response of the audience.

“We are playing 74 different venues on our tour and I think this was one the most enthusiastic audiences,” he said. “It was wonderful to perform in front of such an appreciative crowd. It really inspired us.”

Jennifer Ansdell who played Babe was besieged with requests for photos after the show and enjoyed her first visit to Lytham Hall

“It was wonderful to see scores of small children sitting on rugs right in front of the stage,” she said. “The mood was excellent and they were very excited to be so near the action. We absolutely loved it.”

A charity teddy bear raffle produced £160 to be shared between Lytham Lifeboats, St Luke’s Leprosy Hospital in India and sponsorship for Jennifer Ansdell who is running a half marathon as a fundraiser for the Brain Tumour Charity next month.

Julian Wilde, organiser of the outdoor season, paid tribute to the hard work of ticket outlets, the professional staff at Lytham Hall and particularly the efforts of all the volunteers on Sunday afternoon.

“They did a magnificent job,” he said.

Plans for the 2014 season are already in hand with Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility likely to be the first of another four play programme in mid-June.