Sheringham Little Theatre making strides after ‘rollercoaster’ year

Sheringham Little Theatre theatre director Debbie Thompson.PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Sheringham Little Theatre theatre director Debbie Thompson.PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

A seaside theatre is moving forward after a rollercoaster year which saw it post a £60,000 loss.

Sheringham Little Theatre was hampered by closure of its Hub coffee bar during a major internal refurbishment and a disappointing summer season in 2013.

But the annual meeting heard the revamped Hub was now striding forward with sales up 30pc month on month, and a shorter more condensed summer repertory programme played to 83pc-full houses a big improvement on the 62pc the previous year.

Chairman Richard Ellis said the theatre's digital cinema was also making money and should do even better as it took the selection of films in-house instead of doing them via Cinema City in Norwich - enabling the venue to set a programme more suited to its own audience rather than that of an urban arts cinema.

A satellite dish added in May was also enabling screening of national arts events and bringing in new audiences, added Mr Ellis.

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He said: 'It was an interesting year - a rollercoaster - with some very disappointing financial results, but we ended in a much stronger position and we are in good shape going forward.'

The scale of the 180-seater theatre meant it was never going to be a commercial operation. It relied on local authority support and the unpaid work of it army of volunteers to keep it going.

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Trustee Mike Burrows said the theatre was on track to overcome the previous loss with a small surplus with just four weeks of the year to go.

The theatre attracted some 26,000 people to 310 events during the year.

Theatre director Debbie Thompson reported on successful youth and community productions of Les Miserable and Oh What a Lovely War.

In the coming year the theatre was planning to host its first opera, Madama Butterfly, via digital screening on January 31, an Easter community production of Fiddle on the Roof and autumn Mikado to keep alive the Gilbert and Sullivan traditions of the venue following the recent folding of the Savoyards group.

The coming summer 'rep' season would feature five of the best from the past 55 years - Shirley Valentine, the Late Edwina Black, Bedroom Farce by Alan Ayckbourn, Perfect Wedding and Private Lives.

She also appealed for local people to let the venue know about the kind of films they would like to see screened.

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