Audiences at the Theatre Royal have increased by 30 per cent in the past five years, which is good news, given the theatre needs as many bums on seats as possible to cover costs.
As regular column readers will know I’m partial to a bit of am-dram and have been known to sing (badly) and dance in the back row of the chorus in musicals staged by local companies. I may be resting at the moment (a theatrical term for being out of work, dahling, but given I do the am-dram for free - and some might say I should pay for the privilege of being allowed to clutter the stage - the term resting in this case actually describes the fact I’m enjoying a little maternity leave from performing), but I still have a vested interest in what happens at our theatre.
From a thespian’s point of view, it’s disheartening putting your heart and soul into a performance for an audience of 20. So I applaud director Karen Simpson and the Theatre Royal team for what they have accomplished. A few years ago empty seats and lacklustre programming were the norm, but now I relish reading each season’s new brochure.
This made me realise success such as this is all about giving people what they want. There, the Theatre Royal is definitely doing something right.
Giving people what they want is a rule true to all businesses (however much we might like to think of the Theatre Royal as our cosy community theatre it is, above all, a business). For example, who can have been surprised when it was revealed that BHS would be disappearing from our High Streets? I may still own the BHS duvet set my mum bought me when I went to university 20 years ago (it has washed and washed and washed and yet still looks virtually new. Ooh, I actually sound like my mother there), but I’ve seldom purchased anything there since. Why? Well BHS always seemed uninspiring when I walked through its doors. It had stopped giving me - and others - what I wanted.
I just hope the Theatre Royal continues inspiring audiences. And if you haven’t yet scoured its new programme, what are you waiting for? With productions of the musicals Nine to Five and Grease and what is sure to be a wonderful pantomime on the line-up, I know how I’ll be spending my maternity leave.