The Castle in Wellingborough looks forward to 20th anniversary

Pinocchio is coming to The Castle
Pinocchio is coming to The Castle

The Castle in Wellingborough is looking forward to its 20th anniversary next year.

He may not be the star seen on stage, but Darren Walter is working hard behind the scenes to put a theatre at the heart of the community.

Darren Walter

Darren Walter

Mr Walter took the role of director for The Castle in Wellingborough just 18 months ago, but has already brought in changes to broaden its appeal and reach out to more people in the area.

He knows the importance of the theatre to the town and is looking forward to celebrating its 20th anniversary next year.

Mr Walter, who said he saw a real opportunity to make a difference with this job, said: “I enjoy raising the bar and pushing the boundaries, and that’s what an arts centre needs to be.

“You don’t want to lose your identity but we needed to broaden out the people we appeal to.

“Since we have been doing this, things have started to pick up.”

He said visitor rates are at their highest level ever, ticket sales are higher and its work with youngsters is going from strength to strength.

He added: “I looked at the programme this season and I am proud of it. The fact the audience numbers are also the strongest makes you feel you are doing something right.”

It hasn’t been the easiest 18 months, having to find a balance between a reduction in funding and increasing costs.

But Mr Walter believes key changes, including several new appointments, a focus on contemporary dance and more work with the community, will give them good reason to celebrate at next year’s milestone.

He said: “2015 is going to be a feel good year for The Castle, we have lots of events arranged around the anniversary.”

The director feels they are quite ambitious in what they want to do and they will take risks to offer more.

But he added: “If we don’t champion culture, who’s going to in Wellingborough? That’s our job. We are going to be at the heart of Wellingborough life for a long time yet. The Castle plays such an important part in the brand of Wellingborough, the profile of Wellingborough and promoting the town. The one thing we haven’t done enough of yet is shout about what we do.”

Pinocchio to be star of the show

Darren Walter is very excited about this year’s Christmas show.

He said: “Pinocchio really appeals to children, he’s a cheeky little man.

“There’s lots more songs in it than last year, it’s going to be great.

“We achieved about 70 per cent of what we wanted to last year and it was our most successful show ever.

“This year should be even better.”