Pendle Theatre Hippodrome celebrates 25th anniversary

FAMILY FUN: The Gilbert and Sullivan's 'schoolgirls' are a girl, her mother and her grandmother - Laura Schofield (right), mum Angela (left) and grandma Shirley Kenyon (centre)!

FAMILY FUN: The Gilbert and Sullivan's 'schoolgirls' are a girl, her mother and her grandmother - Laura Schofield (right), mum Angela (left) and grandma Shirley Kenyon (centre)!

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IT was quite a birthday celebration at Pendle Hippodrome Theatre last week - members marked their 25th anniversary by staging a superb Silver Spectacular show.

The theatre in New Market Street opened in 1914 and by the mid-Sixties had become a bingo hall. But in 1978 it was closing and three amateur theatre groups joined forces to take it over. But it took them almost nine years and £130,000 to restore it. By the time it opened 25 year ago it looked fantastic and has proved a great location for musicals.

It is now the base for Pendle Hippodrome Theatre Company and Youth Theatre, but also hosts many other events.

To mark the silver anniversary, the Hippodrome decided to hold a three-day special - and it went down very well with the audience. It included samples of some of the best shows they have staged there, and it had a terrific, skilled cast.

“Silver Spectacular” was directed by Fiona Thompson and Richard Patel was musical director. They both proved their ability by organising really enjoyable evening. The band was a maestro. There was some great dancing, too, with a whole series of choreographers.

It started with a whole range of Rodgers and Hammerstein songs, and there was then an introduction by comedian Ted Reid. He had launched the opening show 25 years ago!

There were some samples from “West Side Story” - one of the most popular shows ever - and “Oliver”. Then Gilbert and Sullivan classics attracted the audiences, including a scene of Chinese “schoolgirls” played by three generations of one family - Shirley Kenyon, her daughter Angela Schofield and granddaughter Laura!

Following scenes from “42nd Street” and “Gypsy”, there was a Lerner and Loewe medley.

“Jekyll and Hyde”, “South Pacific” and “Copacabana” were the final round-up before the end of the first act.

The launch of part two proved a real hit, with a “Mamma Mia” medley going down very well. That was followed by songs from shows like “Sweet Charity”, “Hairspray”, “Chicago” and “Wicked”.

There were also tremendous examples of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s great pieces, and finally there was “One More Day” from “Les Miserables”. It was staged at the Hippodrome in 2006 by its youth theatre. It proved a huge hit and took our top Stage award. Members of the cast from the past took part in revival of “One More Day”, including Mark “Alexander” Paterson, James Bateman, Polly Jackson, Simon Jackson and others.

The whole show was a real classic and the audience loved it. There was a terrific chorus, but also splendid individual performances. It was a classic example of musicals.

All we can say now is “Happy Birthday, Hippodrome”.