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A Community Thank You

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Blackpool Grand Theatre recently announced that, with the generous support of producer Martin Dodd of UK Productions, BBC Radio Lancashire presenter, and Britain’s Got Talent ‘finalist’ Steve Royle, and West End’s Tom Lister will perform a condensed and COVID-safe pantomime fundraiser to ensure Christmas isn’t cancelled at Blackpool’s Grand!

The Christmas production Pantomonium! went on sale just a week ago and the theatre was inundated in thousands of calls and bookings. The ticket on sale has been recorded as the theatre’s biggest ever in its history.

Blackpool Grand, which has entered Consultation with its staff, will shortly announce a huge reduction in its core team. This week the theatre received news that its bid to the government’s Covid Recovery Fund has been successful.  This will help put the theatre on a stronger footing until March 2021. Sadly, it does not mean that the organisation is out of the woods just yet.

Ruth Eastwood, Grand Theatre Chief Executive said ‘We are overwhelmed by the local community’s support.  We thought we knew how much The Grand meant to many, but the thousands of messages we have received, donations and offers of support have been incredible. Martin, Steve, Tom, Jon the writer and many other industry creatives who have worked at our beloved theatre really have shown what the Grand means to them.  Without their, and your, support we could not have dreamed of being able to put on a Christmas show this year.

‘We have received over £18,000 in individual donations since closing in March and every single donation, from a couple of pounds for a badge, to naming a seat donation, plus  business support such as Blackpool Licensed Taxi Operators Association (BLTOA) all clubbing together and giving a gift.  It all means so much and we would like to sincerely thank everyone.’

‘We are still raising money, so if you, or anyone you know, would like to donate, please go to blackpoolgrand.co.uk/recoveryfund, because the fight is not over just yet.’

Anthony Stone, Chair of Blackpool Grand (Arts and Entertainment) Ltd added ‘Like Ruth the board thank the community for their tremendous support and belief in us. It has been a very difficult time for our dedicated team of staff and volunteers.  Indeed, it’s been devastating for the entire theatre industry.  There has been no work and no place of work since March for most of our employees and, as the furlough scheme comes to an end, we will have to let go of many of our wonderful workers.  I’d like to thank them too

‘I’m delighted that there will be a show on our stage this Christmas. All profits from this year’s Pantomonium! will go towards building a stronger future for Blackpool’s Grand. The theatre is committed to returning in 2021 with, not only an offer of great shows, but a programme of interactive work for schools and the community’.

As one of the many people that have made this possible, Martin Dodd, Producer UK Productions, said ‘Blackpool Grand is very close to my heart, and this year would have been our 25th pantomime in this beautiful theatre. Our Wardrobe Department and costumes for all our productions are still housed in Blackpool.

‘Unfortunately, we had to postpone our usual major production as the costs and limitations just wouldn’t work based on COVID safe admission numbers.

‘All profits will go to Blackpool Grand, and we hope with the support of our great audience we create a total sell-out and raise thousands for the theatre.’

Actor, Comic, and Presenter Steve Royle added ‘It was understandable but heart-breaking getting the call saying Pantomime was postponed. I just simply couldn’t let it go, I’d promised Martin and Ruth I’d do anything to make it work.’

Tom Lister joined adding ‘Having performed at Blackpool Grand many times it’s a real favourite of mine. I was keen to help them last year with their 125th Anniversary and it’s hard to believe only months later the building was forced to close its doors. Martin contacted me and I agreed we simply had to do something.’

Pantomonium! at Blackpool Grand Theatre will perform from Friday 18 December 2020 to Sunday 3 January 2021. There will be three performances a day (11am, 3pm, and 7pm, running for approx. 1hr.15mins with no interval). All seats will be £25.50 per person and only available in set bubbles of 2, 3, 4, 5 or six.

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