Lowestoft summer for Bernie Clifton

JONATHAN REDHEAD When Bernie Clifton performed at Lowestoft in 1977, it seemed unlikely it would be almost 30 years before he returned for a summer season.


When Bernie Clifton performed at Lowestoft in 1977, it seemed unlikely it would be almost 30 years before he returned for a summer season.

Back then he wowed an audience of 30,000 over a 10-week run.

But now the veteran comedian, and undoubtedly his ostrich, will be back in north Suffolk this year as bosses at the town's Marina Theatre try to revive the tradition of the seaside summer show.

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Summer seasons have all but disappeared from theatres around the country, with the exception of Cromer, which continues to build on the success of the production made famous by the late Dick Condon.

However, Martin Halliday, manager at the 750-seat Marina Theatre, thinks there is a market for their return and hopes a successful four-show stint through August for Mr Clifton could spark a major revival.

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"The show will have a traditional format but a modern feel," Mr Halliday said.

"It's going to be good, clean family fun.

"We want to appeal to everybody in the community - mums and dads, children and grandparents. We want to bring good family entertainment back to the coast and appeal to holidaymakers and locals."

And he believes Mr Clifton's last run in the town will bring back fond memories for anybody who remembers it.

"Stop anybody of a certain age in the town centre who saw the show and I'm sure they will have positive things to say about it," he said.

"It's been a long time since anything like this happened, but this has been specifically produced for the town.

"We're not naïve enough to start putting in a 10-week run, but we will see what happens."

It's the first time Lowestoft has seen a summer season since Scouse comedian Stan Boardman appeared at the Sparrow's Nest Theatre in 1982.

Since then various shows have stopped in the town while touring the country, but this year's event will be written for and staged solely at the seaside resort by Paul Holman Associates, one of the country's leading producers of pantomimes and children's shows.

It will be produced and directed by Mr Holman, who is Lowestoft born and bred, and local performers, including dancers from the June Glennie Dance School in the town will take part.

Details of the Bernie Clifton Summer Spectacular come at the start of an exciting month for the Marina.

The Osmonds' lead singer Merrill performs on Sunday, while comedy legend Ken Dodd is at the theatre on Monday after his show sold out in just six hours.

Chart topper Tony 'Amarillo' Christie sings on April 17. And on April 22, the theatre starts it prestigious three-year residency with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

Only last week the theatre announced the return of Des O'Connor to the town after an absence of nearly 50 years.

For tickets to the Bernie Clifton Summer Spectacular or any other show, call the box office on 01502 533200.

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