Celebrating 125 years – Blackpool Grand 1894 to 2019.
Over 2019 the theatre saw a host of star-studded events, record audience figures and played host to some of the UK’s top West End plays. The theatre took on a major fundraising campaign to help fund repair work to the iconic Grade II* listed building.
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To celebrate the landmark year, Blackpool Grand began with a special anniversary event in January 2019 which saw more than 350 people from across the country attend, including a host of celebrities such as Coronation Street star Lucy Fallon, actor Tom Lister, former Emmerdale and ex EastEnders actress, Cheryl Fergison.
Following this, the theatre held a special birthday party event later in the year for the Friends of The Grand, who helped save the theatre. In the late 70’s and 80’s The Friends fundraised to purchase the building from E.M.I who were using it as a bingo hall, and reopening Blackpool’s Grand as a centre for the arts in 1980. They have since played a pivotal role in supporting and fundraising for the Theatre ever since.
Celebrating 125 Years – A very special night was arranged ‘An audience with Sir Ian McKellen’ where Sir Ian agreed that all profits would go towards the fundraising target. The to-the-gods sell-out performance offers exclusive VIP tickets where guests could meet Sir Ian after the show and the theatre offer special £12.50 tickets for 18 to 26-year-olds in an online lottery.
The celebratory events culminated in a Royal visit in October with Her Royal Highness the Countess of Wessex GCVO coming to the Blackpool Grand to meet a selection of the people who have helped restore and operate the resort’s iconic building.
Celebrating 125 Years – Some of the highlights in terms of shows, included The Woman in Black, a spine-tingling drama which has been a huge West End hit and Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap, starring Susan Penhaligon and a pantomime staring Tom Lister, Steve Royle and Jack Heasman which had surprise special guests including comedian Peter Kay, actor Lucy Fallon and Les Dawson’s daughter Charlotte Dawson.
2019 saw the theatre launch its own production company, Blackpool Grand Productions Limited, and created a summer show, Around the World in 80s Days. The show was developed to both raise the Blackpool Grand profile and to celebrate the 125 Birthday. It was a huge critical success.
To celebrate the 125 Anniversary Blackpool Grand launched a new loyalty programme called the ‘1894 Club’, the membership offers members discounts on shows and local attractions, as well as access to a new 1894 Cub Box in the main theatre.
Throughout the year the Theatre looked to raise money to help repair the building. The famous dome of Blackpool Grand suffered considerable damage in 2017, when Storm Doris came to Blackpool’s shores, work is needed to reinstate the roof to its original condition and further funds are needed to improve the theatre itself.
Blackpool Grand set a target of £125,000 and has ran a number of fundraising activities, from special events, selling limited edition 125 rose gold Lapel Badges, running a year-long draw (with over £8,000 of prizes) and offering a ‘pay what you feel’ option on selected shows, with the proceeds going to the fund.
The theatre created a very special Timeline celebrating 125 years of the iconic Blackpool Grand and what other events where occurring nationally and worldwide. The theatre has committed to updating the Timeline each year as they discover more about its glorious history.
Ruth Eastwood, Chief Executive at Blackpool Grand, added:
It has been an incredible year for The Grand, with some fantastic events, fundraising, shows and even a Royal visit. We wanted to make celebrating 125 years a delight, we think we achieved that.
2020 has an incredible line up including the Royal Shakespeare Company whom will perform a triple-bill of performances, global sensation and multi-award winning company BalletBoyz return, and Willy Russell’s Educating Rita, starring local actor Stephen Thompkinson.
Other highlights include quality family drama by Children’s Theatre Partnership (of which Blackpool Grand Theatre is a partner) HOLES which is based on the multi-award winning novel and Hollywood blockbuster. Not forgetting Breakin’ Convention, the world’s ground-breaking festival of hip hop dance.
Eastwood added: ‘2020 will highlight some of the best UK touring productions in drama and dance visiting Blackpool Grand. Comedy is also playing its part with the likes of Rob Beckett, Count Arthur Strong, Josh Widdicombe, Julian Clarey, Ed Burn and Jack Dee to name a few headliners.
Fundraising efforts continue until 23 July 2020 when we reach the 126th Birthday of Blackpool Grand. A full year of celebrations.”
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