WITH pantomime season now behind them, the Wyvern Theatre has announced that this year’s production was one of their most popular ever.
About 27,000 people saw this year’s production of Aladdin, which starred Keith Chegwin, during its four-week run.
Theatre director Derek Aldridge said the figures were the second highest they had ever achieved for panto – beaten only by last year’s production of Cinderella.
“During the 50 performances we were selling more than 91 per cent of the available seats.
“We have about 600 seats available at each show and on average 550 of those were being taken,” he said.
“Last year was the best year we have ever had in terms of tickets. This year was just under that.
“A lot of the performances were during term time. What is great is that all the schools who came this year have rebooked for next year already. That shows people must had had a good time.
“The comments we have had from the audiences have been almost completely positive.
“They thought it was a really good show. We are feeling really positive for Jack and the Beanstalk next year.
“We are just so grateful and thankful to the audiences of Swindon who have come out and supported us.”
Cheggers, who starred as Wishee Washee this year, has confirmed he will be returning to Swindon for the pantomime next year.
“We have had our two best selling pantomimes of all time with Keith and we are delighted to have him back,” Derek said.
“The challenge each year is to try to keep it exciting and new for people. We are working on an entirely new script for Jack and the Beanstalk. At the moment we are having discussions for the giant.
“We are starting to think of those key moments in the show that we can make really exciting for people.
“We’re also starting to think about who will be cast as well as Keith.”
Cheggers missed the last four performances of Aladdin on Saturday and Sunday due to his appearance on ITV’s Dancing on Ice.
Instead his role was played by the show’s writer, Simon Aylin.
“Simon had a really difficult job to do but he did really well,” said Derek. “We advised people in advance Keith wouldn’t be in it for those performances. It was quite time pressurised for the cast to rehearse with somebody else, but it shows what we can do when we pull together.”
Derek said they are looking forward to the year ahead.
He said: “Now we turn our attention to our spring season. We have The Woman in Black at the moment. We are looking forward to another great year of shows.”
For tickets for next year’s pantomime or for more information about shows at the Wyvern, visit www.wyverntheatre.org.uk or phone 01793 524 481.
CHEGGERS WENT POP BUT FINALLY MADE IT
Keith Chegwin was unanimously voted through to the next round of Dancing on Ice after he took centre stage for the first time on Sunday.
The TV favourite, who was fresh off the Wyvern stage, was in the skate-off with Pamela Anderson in the first show of the series.
Keith had earned himself praise from the judges, along with mentors Jane Torville and Christopher Dean, after he returned to the ice despite fracturing his shoulder and breaking three ribs while in training for the series last year.
Despite his previous injuries, which forced him to make a premature exit from the 2012 series, Keith gave a confident performance to Things Can Only Get Better, with skating partner Olga Sharutenko.
Former Pussycat Doll Ashley Roberts, who joined the judging panel this year, described Keith as a ‘little ball of fun and energy’.
Olympic ice dancer Karen Barber agreed. She said: “It was a great performance, it had character and had Keith written all over it.”
Meanwhile judge Jason Gardiner had his usual high standards.
“Things couldn’t get any worse with your presentation,” he said. “You’re a capable skater we can see that, but you still need to work on your presentation.”
Keith said he was delighted with the judges comments.
He added: “They are absolutely right, my upper arms are bad and the steps were a bit rushed because I am so excited to be here, I can’t tell you.”