Lytham Hall looks to lead the country again this coming summer with another popular programme of four open air plays.
Last summer’s quartet of memorable performances at the Hall drew a total attendance of more than 2,000, leading to a record donation of £4,800 to the Lytham Hall Appeal fund.
The Chapterhouse Theatre Company will launch the 2014 season and its own summer tour at the Hall on Friday, June 13 with a presentation of Richard Main’s production of Jane Austen’s first novel, Sense and Sensibility, adapted for the stage by Laura Turner.
Last year, despite miserable weather, Chapterhouse’s production of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice drew a record attendance for an opening play of the season of 500 to the Hall, now Lancashire’s most popular venue for outdoor plays.
Meanwhile, Fylde coast fans will certainly welcome the return of Illyria to the Hall after three very successful shows last summer – The Mikado, which attracted an attendance of more than 600, As You Like It and the family delights of Babe The Sheep Pig, which drew another bumper August bank holiday weekend crowd of more than 700.
Oliver Gray’s production of Shakespeare’s Macbeth marks Illyria’s 2014 Lytham debut on Sunday, July 6 at 6pm. The company follows up with Pirates of Penzance on the evening of Tuesday, July 15 and Roald Dahl’s George’s Marvellous Medicine on Sunday, August 24 at 4pm.
Pirates of Penzance will be one of the first performances of the Gilbert and Sullivan classic by the company, who will go on to stage it at some 50 venues across the country.
Last summer, Lytham Hall’s attendance of over 600 for The Mikado was the largest of Illyria’s countrywide tour and director Gray said: “We love the enthusiasm of our loyal followers on the Lancashire coast.”
Julian Wilde, organiser of the Hall season of plays, felt the support of 11 business patrons, the volunteers and professional staff at Lytham Hall and the enthusiasm of the 12 ticket outlets maintained the interest throughout last summer – and is delighted with the variety of the 2014 programme .
“I think the balance in next summer’s programme will have a strong appeal,” he said. “It’s both unusual and excellent to have an outdoor production of Macbeth and it’s an honour that Chapterhouse have chosen Lytham Hall for the opening night of Sense and Sensibility.
“Last summer, we achieved a pleasing combination of advance booking, last-minute sales and walk-ups. I think the hard work of all the helpers makes it a very friendly venue and the visiting companies love the atmosphere and the excellent acoustics.
“The superb weather for three of our shows was a huge help and my abiding memory of 2013 will be a capacity audience on a glorious summer evening, full of wine, enjoying As You Like It just half an hour after Andy Murray’s historic Wimbledon win.”
This year’s Hall outdoor season will again have the Express as one its Patrons and details of ticket availability, prices and sales points are expected towards the end of this month.
Last summer, in addition to the Hall season, there were again encouraging family audiences for Storytellers’ Theatre Company’s five afternoon plays at Lowther Pavilion and Gardens – three of them staged outdoors – as the versatile Ian Fox and hard-working Suzanne Fulton captured the imagination of the children.
Lowther Gardens also staged a production of Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell by Dean Taylor Productions, while the new amphitheatre at Lytham’s Park View hosted a successful performance of Kes by a cast from the University of Central Lancashire, directed by Sarah Stone, and more can be expected this year.