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Panto pleases crowds in best year yet
THE door is open for Keith Chegwin to return to the stage in Swindon next Christmas after Jack and the Beanstalk was confirmed as the Wyvern Theatre’s most successful pantomime yesterday.
The fairytale has been running at the town centre venue since December 7 and across the weekend nudged past the £425,000 total achieved in ticket sales by the 2011/12 run of Cinderella.
With performances continuing until Sunday, the takings will continue to rise, as the One From The Heart production cements its position as the highest grossing pantomime in the theatre’s 42-year history.
Theatre director Derek Aldridge has said the show’s laughter factor is behind its success, whilst confirming the Wyvern wants to continue its relationship with Cheggers into 2014 and beyond.
“It’s a very funny show. Audiences really like to see a show packed full of jokes to take their minds off all the stresses of Christmas,” said Derek.
“David Ashley has returned again this year, along with Keith, and they really know the Swindon audiences very well now. There is warmth between them and the audience.
“This week’s shows have also sold very well for a panto after Christmas has finished, so we expect the gap to widen between it and 2011/12’s Cinderella.
“No decisions have been made at the moment. We’ve now done three years with Keith and each year grows in popularity.
“We will sit down and look at all options after we have finished. We have an ongoing relationship with Keith and we would want to continue working with him in some capacity next year.
“At this stage we don’t know what his availability is, but he is welcome to be part of our future in some way.”
The Wyvern’s 2014/15 extravaganza will be Dick Whittington, with advance ticket sales already underway. Derek said advance sales are far higher than ever before, despite no cast announcements.
“We sit down a couple of weeks after Jack and the Beanstalk has finished and we have a full debrief on what’s occurred over Christmas,” said Derek.
“We know it’s Dick Whittington in 2014, so that helps with first having an idea on which character slots we need to fill.
“We then look around all the options and it’s a case of deciding who we want as the top billing and the well-known name.
“We then hold auditions throughout the year for the minor parts.”
Despite the upturn in takings from this year’s run, there is no commitment to a bigger budget for Dick Whittington yet.
However, Derek has said everyone at the Wyvern is well aware their audiences expect something a little better each year.
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