Wellingborough theatre hopes its best ever start to the year will continue

The Castle theatre in Wellingborough
The Castle theatre in Wellingborough

A town theatre has recorded one of its best ever starts to the year.

A Christmas Carol seems to have kick-started 2016 for The Castle theatre in Wellingborough, with the success continuing in January and February.

Franks has opened a restaurant at The Castle theatre in Wellingborough

Franks has opened a restaurant at The Castle theatre in Wellingborough

Theatre director Darren Walter said: “It was the highest public sales for a Christmas show that we have had for many, many years, which I think showed just how good the show was.”

He added: “Artistically I think it was the best show we have ever done.

“The creative team we had were great.

“We had two great writers who were much more involved in the process and it was really good for that.

“They are coming back to do the Pied Piper next year.”

Tickets have already started selling for the Pied Piper next Christmas, and the success of A Christmas Carol was followed by Wellingborough Pantomime Society seeing a ‘significant increase’ in its ticket sales.

Mr Walter said: “Normally you get a bit of a lull at the start of the year but we have had an amazing January where we took the best part of 15 per cent more than we have ever taken in January before.

“January and February has been trading better than in previous starts to the year.

“Ticket sales seem to be up across the board.

“Our January film admissions were really good, but it wasn’t the only success.

“It has been a really promising start to the year.”

January saw the launch of the comedy club where tickets cover the cost of the show as well as food at Franks, which recently took over the theatre’s bar and catering services.

Mr Walter said: “Franks has been nothing but a success story.

“They are trading between two and three times higher than before.

“Daytime trade has increased and footfall has increased in the tea-time slot.

“The comedy club started in January and was off the hook.

“It sold 70 or 80 per cent more than the previous comedy show.”

Mr Walter said contemporary dance and the theatre’s work with young people are two other areas which they are very proud of and will continue to develop and promote in the future.

While it has been a promising start to the year, theatre bosses recently asked Wellingborough Council for an advance payment of £50,000.

They were due to receive this contractual payment at the start of April, but following cashflow problems caused by changes to the theatre’s terms with its credit card payment provider, councillors agreed to give them the money earlier than planned.

Mr Walter said: “It’s not a request for extra money, it’s an advance.

“We are in the position that we’re coming to the end of the financial year and it is the tightest time of the year.

“The last three months of the year are always hard work.”

But looking ahead, Mr Walter said the theatre has worked hard to put together a diverse programme of shows for the year and he has a personal favourite.

He said: “I was really proud to get Dinosaur Park.

“It is such a brilliant idea.

“There’s a family where the mother dies but as a family they always used to watch Jurassic Park so to celebrate a year from her passing, they decide to get together to watch the film but when they get the DVD out, it has gone so they decide to act it out instead.

“If you see any show here, it should be this one.”

For details about forthcoming shows, go to www.thecastle.org.uk.