PICTURES: Cannon and Ball raise spirits at bar opening event

Rock on Tommy – now Lowther Pavilion’s the best bar none.

The new-look bar and studio area at the Lytham theatre was officially opened by comedy legends Cannon and Ball - and the much-loved funnymen have promised a return trip to the venue very soon, as they have offered to put on a fund-raising show for the Friends of Lowther.

Cannon and Ball at the official opening of new-look Lowther studio and bar

Cannon and Ball at the official opening of new-look Lowther studio and bar

The Friends group of supporters raised £25,000 to cover the majority of the £30,000-plus project to extend the Lowther bar area, rotating it 90 degrees in the process, and are now early looking to boost their coffers as they target other vital improvements at the West Beach theatre.

Cannon and Ball played to near full houses last week as Lowther staged the world premier of the Bobby Ball-scripted comedy play Rock Off Tommy and Bobby, who lives in St Annes, said at the opening of the new-look bar: “It is a wonderful theatre and I am happy to do anything I can to help.

“Tommy and I have offered to do a show to raise funds for the Friends and depending on other commitments we are hoping that might be sometime this year.

“I am delighted with how Rock Off Tommy went and what a joy it was to work on the play with the Fylde Coast Players company which produced it and provided cast members.

“Every aspect of the staging of it was brilliant and thanks to everyone who came along to watch it. I have had plenty of approaches about staging it elsewhere, possibly taking it on tour, which is very pleasing, but we will have to see how it fits in with other commitments.

“I was very proud for it to be staged at my local theatre and every success to the Friends with their hard work to make this lovely venue even better.”

The Friends are set to stage monthly performance and social evenings in the 100-capacity studio area adjacent to the new-look bar, including an opening evening in May at which they will be looking to welcome new members.

“We have a lot of new projects in mind, including vital work on the rood but we need to raise funds and anything anyone can do to help by joining us or contributing would be very welcome,” said Friends chairman Janet Radcliffe, who expressed her graditude to everyone who had contributed to the project.

While the bulk of the cost of the bar improvements were covered by the Friends’ fund-raising, a shortfall of several thousand pounds was covered by a donation from shale gas company Cuadrilla.

Their contribution meant the work was able to go ahead this year, whereas without it, the project would have had to wait 12 months.

Friends vice-chairman chairman Rosie Withers explained: “The only time of year when the theatre can close long enough for such work to be carried out is January and we would have been looking at next year if we had need to carry on raising more cash ourselves.

“We asked various local businesses if they could help but only Cuadrilla came up with the necessary amount and we are so grateful to them for the gesture.”

A Cuadrilla spokesman said: “Having been invited by the Friends of Lowther to visit the theatre to view their improvement plans, Cuadrilla was delighted to be able to contribute towards the cost of the new-look bar and studio area.”