Drama successes and financial challenges for Sheringham Little Theatre

A successful year on stage and a challenging time for finance behind the scenes was outlined at the annual meeting of Sheringham Little Theatre.

More than 10,000 people watched dramas during the summer repertory season, eight per cent up on last year, said theatre director Debbie Thompson.

The current panto Dick Whittington, done in partnership with London's Lyric Theatre, was 'the best we have ever done', and a community Annie Get Your Gun musical attracted so many people to auditions they did alternating shows with two different casts.

Next year's highlights would include a community production of Pirates of Penzance which aimed to introduce more people to the comic opera world of Gilbert and Sullivan and attract members to the local Savoyards G and S society which had cancelled two recent productions due to shortages.

Theatre chairman Richard Ellis praised Mrs Thompson, her small team and army of volunteers, whose 'beyond the call of duty' efforts kept the venue going.

Finance had been challenging, with the theatre looking to compensate for North Norfolk District Council cutting its grant by 10 per cent a year over the next three years from �53,000 to �38,000.

The theatre was looking to increase income from its Hub coffee bar and find more business and sponsorship support, along with revamping its membership and friends schemes.

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Major plans for the year ahead included switching its cinema to digital and changing the type of films of shown.

A new website with online booking, to help holidaymakers in particular, was being developed and was under test.

Retiring company secretary Jeremy Shaw said some difficult decisions, including reduced staffing costs, had enabled the theatre to return a �10,000, following what would have been a �27,000 loss last year if there had not been a VAT refund.

It was hoped to make a modest profit in the coming year too.

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