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Barbara Jackson Theatre Arts Centre

Blackpool’s Grand Theatre is committed to working with local young people in the Arts.

The young stars of Barbara Jackson Theatre Arts Centre whom have performed at The Grand have gone on to incredible heights. Most recently portraying schoolgirl Bethany Platt, Lucy Fallon, 21, picked up the Best Actress honour at the Inside Soap Awards 2017 for her sensational performance on Coronation Street.

Fallon beat off stiff competition from Emmerdale stars Charlotte Bellamy and Zoe Henry, and Hollyoaks actress Anna Passey to nab the accolade.

Fallon appeared for the first time as a juvenile at Blackpool’s Grand, 14 years ago. Fallon then appeared as a principle dancer in Peter Pan in 2013/14 alongside Tom Lister, pantomime veteran Steve Royle and Radio Wave’s Hayley Kay. In 2014/15 she appeared alongside UK Dance Mums Jennifer Ellison (Brookside).

Fallon has also been tipped for West End stardom when most recently won the ITV show All Star Musicals – Freddie Flintoff hosted a musical theatre extravaganza as Michael Crawford prepared seven celebrities for a performance at the London Palladium broadcast on ITV. The show also featured Nicky Campbell, Sally Phillips, Michael Parr, Denise Lewis, and Sir Tony Robinson. Fallon showed that she can sing as well as act as she belted out Don’t Cry For Me Argentina, saying ‘I’m getting to live a dream.’

Michael Crawford who helped advise the stars said ‘I’m standing this far from her and she starts to sing and I’m absolutely mesmirised.’

Fallon isn’t the first young star to perform at Blackpool’s Grand, at the beginning of her career, Blackpool Born Jenna Louise Coleman appeared as Laura in The Woman Who Cooled Her Husband in September 2004

Coleman landed the part of Jasmine Thomas in Emmerdale in 2005. In 2007, she was nominated for two awards. Nominated at the British Soap Awards as Best Newcomer, and at the National Television Awards nominated as Most Popular Newcomer. At the 2009 British Soap Awards she was nominated in the Best Actress and Best Dramatic Performance categories.

In May 2009, it was announced that Coleman would be joining BBC drama Waterloo Road, as hard girl Lindsay James. In 2011, she made her big screen debut in Captain America: The First Avenger. She also landed the part of Annie Desmond in Julian Fellowes’ four-part mini-series Titanic.

March 2012, Doctor Who producer Steven Moffat confirmed at a press conference that Coleman would play the Doctor’s companion alongside Matt Smith after Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill have left the show.

In August 2016, Coleman went on to appear in one of ITV’s biggest drama hits Victoria. Due to its huge popularity, the series has just been commission for a Third Series.

Barbara Jackson Theatre Arts Centre was founded over 60 years ago by Barbara Jackson and has gone from strength to strength under the direction of principle Lorraine Hill since 1989, with the support of daughter Katie Hill. Many or Principle Lorrain Hill’s students have gone on to appear in huge West End productions such Madaline Gilby in Royal Shakespeare’s Company’s production of Roald Dahl’s Matilda.

The Barbara Jackson Theatre Arts Centre recently held 25 full days of ballet, tap, modern, drama and musical theatre examinations with a 100 percent pass rate and more than 98 percent gaining distinction.

Lorraine Hill, Principle of Barbara Jackson Theatre Arts Centre said ‘It’s been incredible to work with The Grand for so many years, we’re like family. From CEO Ruth Eastwood to Marketing Manager Andrew Howard and his fantastic team everyone makes you feel welcome. The Stage team and front of House make all the parents feel special and none of this would be possible without the fantastic opportunity given by Martin Dodd and his team at UK Productions.

‘Given the students their first professional performance is so valuable to them, their faces light up when they know they are going to be part of an adventure that could lead them on as it did Lucy Fallon and Madeline Gilby.

The students are already asking me about being part of next year’s big new production Beauty and The Beast… a whole new adventure for the students at Barbara Jackson Theatre Arts Centre.’

Martin Dodd for UK Productions in association with Blackpool Grand Theatre is proud to have presented 21 years of Pantomime at Blackpool’s premier theatre.

This year the two companies celebrate 21 incredible years of partnership in Pantomime. It’s only fitting that this year’s pantomime Cinderella is the first pantomime performed by UK Productions at Blackpool’s Grand.

Both UK Productions and Blackpool Grand Theatre know the true value of pantomime and the yearly tradition for the families of Blackpool. Each year the numbers grow and the community engagement work grows with it. Blackpool’s Grand is committed to its engagement work which works alongside its rolling programme.

Back in 1996 the cast was Roy Walker the Northern Irish television personality and comedian, who worked for many years as both a television presenter and comedy actor. Best known as the original host of the game show Catchphrase (1986 to 99), and as one of the stars of the comedy showcase, The Comedians. And most recently in Pick Me! and The Real Marigold Hotel.

UK Productions was formed in 1995 by Martin Dodd producing musicals and pantomimes, for which they are now one of the country’s most prolific producers. They are currently producing national tours of Legally Blonde the Musical and The Kite Runner, both of which will visit the Grand Theatre in 2018.

West End producing credits include Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (Theatre Royal Haymarket) and The Kite Runner (Wyndhams Theatre, and Playhouse Theatre), and other producing credits for national and international tours include The Kite Runner (2014), 42nd Street (1997, 1999, 2000, 2007, 2012), Oklahoma! (2010), Singin’ in the Rain (2009), Disney’s Beauty & The Beast (2005 – 2010), South Pacific (2007/8), Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (2001/2, 2005/6, 2008/9), Jekyll and Hyde – The Musical (2004/5), Carousel (2003/4 and 2000), Fiddler on the Roof (2008, 2003), Murdered to Death (2002), Anything Goes (2001), The Pirates of Penzance (1998/9), and Barnum (1995/6).

UK Productions have a passion for pantomime, and currently produce shows for ten other theatres nationwide. In addition, they operate a busy production hire business utilising their extensive stores of Musicals, Pantomimes and Play sets and costumes. They hire out part and full productions to professional and amateur companies across the UK and internationally as well as designing and making sets, props and costumes to order. During Christmas of 2017-18 over 40 productions will benefit from UK Production sets, props and costumes.

Producer Martin Dodd of UK Productions said; ‘It’s been a 21-year love affair with this magnificent theatre, that really is one of the jewels in this country’s theatre stock. Working alongside the amazing team at the Grand we have not only produced 21 pantomimes but also a number of musicals that have started their life in this beautiful theatre. It is the perfect place to watch a show and the audiences that we play to in the Grand are some of the best and most responsive in the country. They certainly enjoy all of the elements that make up a great pantomime.’

Over the 21 years UK Productions and Blackpool’s Grand Theatre have presented such stars as Roy Walker 96/97 (Catchphrase), Jenny Powell 96/97 (Big Heads), Bernie Nolan 97/98 (The Nolan’s, The Bill), Wayne Sleep 98/99 (Choreographer), Ben Shephard 99/00 (GMTV, Tipping Point), Anna Karen 99/00 (On The Buses, EastEnders), Ruth Madoc 01/02, 05/06 and 07/08 (Hi-De-Hi!, Little Britain), Ken Morley 02/03 and 04/05 (Coronation Street), Des Coleman 02/03 (EastEnders), Tony Caunter 03/04 (EastEnders), Maureen Nolan 03/04 (The Nolan’s, Blood Brothers), Mike Grady 04/05 (Last Of The Summer Wine), Tony Scannell 05/06 (The Bill, Flash Gordon), Kenny Baker 05/06 (Star Wars, Time Bandits), Ray Meagher 06/07 (Home and Away), Andrew Newton-Lee 06/07 (Coronation Street, EastEnders), Amanda Barrie 08/09 (Coronation Street), Barney Harwood 09/10 and 16/17 (Blue Peter, Basil’s Swap Shop), Gary Turner 09/10 (Emmerdale), Alex Ferns 10/11 (EastEnders), Vicky Entwistle 11/12 (Coronation Street), Danny Miller 12/13 (Emmerdale), Tom Lister 13/14 (Emmerdale), Jennifer Ellison 14/15 (Dance Moms, Brookside), Su Pollard 15/16 (Hi-de-Hi! Annie), Dan Whiston 15/16 (Dancing on Ice), Mark Moraghan 16/17 (Coronation Street) and JJ Hamblett (Union J), Melanie Walters (Gavin and Stacey).

Andrew Howard, Marketing Manager of Blackpool’s Grand Theatre said; ‘We all love working with Lorraine and Katie at the Barbara Jackson Theatre Arts Centre. Having the privilege to sit in on the auditions and seeing such young talent being selected you can see how much it means to them. Having seen Lucy Fallon perform over the years, it’s a huge delight to now see her on Emmerdale and winning an incredible award like Best Actress.

‘We’re also hugely proud as are all the families connected to Barbara Jackson Theatre Arts Centre of Madeline Gilby this year as she sets off on her journey in the touring musical, Matilda.’

‘For me standout years have included the characters played by Vicky Entwistle as the Wicked Queen, and the best Hook has to be Tom Lister.  It’s so great to hear of so many award-winners in our pantomimes including of course Danny Miller who won Best Actor at the Inside Soap Awards. All of which have performed with the young performers of Barbara Jackson Theatre Arts Centre’

The 2017 Cinderella cast includes JJ Hamblett (Union J) who will star as Prince Charming, Melanie Walters (Gavin and Stacey) as Fairy Godmother, Olivia Birchenough (Channel 5’s Milkshake) as the beautiful Cinderella and Jamie Morris and Tarot Joseph returning as the Ugly Sisters all starring alongside panto favourite the incredible Steve Royle (BBC Radio Lancashire) who will be making his 15th annual appearance starring as ‘Buttons’, the same role that Roy Walker played in 1996.

This year will also mark ‘Grand’ panto legend Steve Royle’s, 15th annual appearance. Royle has supported both Peter Kay and Dave Spikey on tour and was voted ‘Entertainer of the Year’ at the Red Rose Awards. Royle is also a Patron of the Friends of The Grand and works continually with the theatre on many projects.

‘My time at Blackpool’s Grand has been some of my most memorable years.

‘My children, Lucy, Rosie and Daisy have all performed alongside me at The Grand, which I have to say as a parent is incredible humbling and exciting at the same time. All of them have learned their craft from Lorraine and Katie at Barbara Jackson Theatre Arts Centre, an incredible start for a young performer.

‘I’ve also worked with some incredible casts that have performed in Panto who I now call close friends like Vicky Entwistle, Danny Miller, Tom Lister and Su Pollard.

‘This year marks 21 Years for UK Productions and to think I am 15 years of that journey is unimaginable from when I first started, Christmas would be hard to imagine without Pantomime in my life.’ said Royle.

Grand Theatre, CEO Ruth Eastwood said ‘The Grand survives on the generosity of donations and the support of its locals. We try where we can with income and fundraising to achieve great value for the local community.

‘Last year, 10,000 school children benefitted from seeing a performance at the theatre.  A further 3,000 young people performed on the stage. In addition, 30 local schools are part of our literacy project in partnership with the Royal Shakespeare Company.  So, you can be assured every £1 we receive goes towards great projects.’

In addition to the Barbara Jackson Theatre Arts Centre and Whittaker Dance and Drama Centre who both perform at the Blackpool Grand Theatre the venue has its own Grand Young Company.

The Grand needs to continually fundraise to enable it to deliver its work – vital work! Without your support, many of our local children will never experience a true feeling of live performance, outstanding international dance or engaging quality drama.

To make a one-off donation to Blackpool’s Grand Theatre you can go to the website or if you’d like to set up a regular donation, look at the Charity Aid Foundation (CAF)’s Long-Term Giving. They offer tailored philanthropy services, knowledge and expertise, to help you fulfil your charitable ambitions. They work with over 2,000 high net worth individuals in a variety of ways, from providing valuable administration of their charitable giving through to expert advice on a long term giving strategy.

Don’t forget you can also get Grand Theatre Vouchers as a gift, they’re easy to purchase and you can even email them to the recipient on a date you choose, how easier can we make it? Order them by visiting or call the Box Office on 01253 290190.

Call Box Office on 01253 290190 or visit


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