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WOW youth theatre group 'in limbo' over Weymouth Pavilion
AN ACCLAIMED youth theatre group is ‘in limbo’ because the threatened closure of Weymouth Pavilion is playing havoc with its show schedule.
WOW Youth Musical Theatre booked the Pavilion for its next big show months before shutting the venue became a real possibility for Weymouth and Portland Borough Council.
Now with so much uncertainty surrounding the theatre’s future, WOW says it is unable to sell tickets or promote its April production, the recently-released school edition of blockbusting West End musical Miss Saigon.
Rehearsals are underway at the group’s studio in Park Street three nights a week, but youngsters don’t know if they’ll make it to the theatre.
WOW has been performing shows at the Pavilion for more than 25 years and past members have gone on to have successful careers in show business.
The production of Oliver! in November was a box office success and the company was hoping to repeat this with Miss Saigon, booked for April 3-6. The borough council is investigating how WOW can be accommodated if councillors decide to close the Pavilion when they meet next month.
The council has been looking for ways to save money and is proposing to close, and subsequently demolish, the Pavilion. It would shuts its doors sometime after March 31 but the council says it will consider proposals from the community for taking it over.
A Save the Pavilion proposal fronted by Weymouth businessman Phil Say which is supported by WOW and other groups is gathering support by the day.
WOW chairman Alan McKechan is glad to hear the council was trying to find a solution that would enable Miss Saigon to be performed at the theatre, whatever the outcome for the building. But president Janet Stockley said until there was a solution, the group was ‘in limbo.’ She added: “We were thrilled to secure the rights to be the first group to perform the school edition of Miss Saigon in South Dorset when it was released last year. Naturally, our talented cast, supporters and friends would all be devastated if we were unable to go ahead as planned.”
She said the group had considered alternative local venues but they were too small to cover production costs of more than £29,000. WOW has also looked at bringing the show forward a week but the Saturday night is already booked so the only opportunity to put on a matinee would be on Good Friday. Apart from the Friday, all other performances would take place during the school term, missing out on attracting Easter visitors to the shows.
* WEYMOUTH AND Portland Borough Council’s spokesman for tourism and culture Ian Bruce said: “The borough council recognises the concerns from customers over the uncertain future of Weymouth Pavilion.
“A timetable is currently being developed covering each option for the future of the Pavilion, including possible closure. Once confirmed this will be shared with customers with confirmed and provisional bookings as soon as possible.
“Councillors will make a decision on the future of Weymouth Pavilion at Full Council on February 21, after considering public feedback from the budget consultation.”