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COLUMN: Looking ahead to an exciting year at Harrogate Theatre

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Every January our marketing department sit down and analyse the performance of the pantomime.

And each year there is a mixture of genuine surprise, relief and of course pride that it has surpassed the achievements of all previous years - well this has been the case since I arrived some 14 years ago.

Over Christmas 2017 there has been a cool 34,000 in attendance at Beauty and the Beast and well in excess of half a million pounds taken at the box office.

In each case it’s a record breaker in the history of Harrogate Theatre.

So it’s time to take a well-earned breather and reflect for a moment that we made it through 72 shows, we had 55 schools attend, we sold 10,000 ice creams, there were no cancellations due to actors stuck in snow or losing their voices and there was only one power cut, which came almost on the curtain call of a particular show, generating nothing but huge audience support and understanding.

The pantomime is an extraordinary team effort right across the building, but of course, without the audience and you the good people of Harrogate, we would be nowhere.

So thank you once again for your unswerving support of Harrogate Theatre’s pantomime in 2017-18.Thank you for all the lovely feedback.

I can honestly say with no exaggeration that this year I have received noticeably more than any other. I’m convinced, as I write, that the quality of Beauty and the Beast is major reason why there are thousands of patrons already booked for next year’s Jack and the Beanstalk.

During the hurly burly of the festive season there was our 118th birthday party, which was the joyous occasion this magnificent building deserves.

Amongst the celebrations were two lovely speeches from the Chair Jim Clark and our Associate Producer Porl Cooper. Porl has been working with us since September and leads on the programming of the Studio space as well as maintaining the portfolio of Associate Artists.

We have just launched the new spring and summer season and if you grab a brochure or go online you can see for yourselves what an excellent job Porl is doing.

There is a an exciting range of work to look forward to in the studio, kicking off in February with Townsend Productions and their unique exploration of the Grunwick Strike, followed by The Pretend Men and Police Cops in Space – both a ‘must see’.

March sees a couple of artists that I highly recommend you check out if you haven’t already – Cheryl Martin and Peter Antoniou.

The latter brings two pieces, one of which is a séance held on the theatre’s main stage (I hope Alice, our resident ghost, won’t mind).

Porl has also secured some excellent international work as the Best of Be Festival pays a visit with artists from Portugal, Spain and France.

The main house has some crackers as well, most noticeably Godber’s Up ‘n’ Under, Ayckbourn’s Relatively Speaking and in the summer the national tour of Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em with Joe Pasquale in the lead.

Our community groups present great work as usual; There’s Deanery with Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Ripon Operatic with Guys and Dolls and Harrogate Gilbert and Sullivan Society with The Gondoliers.

If you haven’t had chance to pick up one of our brochures or look online for what is in store during spring and summer, then I really urge that you do so.

I hope 2018 is all that you wish for and do come and see a show soon.