Special message from Sir Ian McKellen one of highlights at red carpet ball to mark 50th birthday of Burnley Youth Theatre
and live on Freeview channel 276
Around 100 alumni, current and past staff, board members and friends attended the event which began with a drinks reception and tour of the facilities and grounds to allow guests to witness the impressive changes the organisation has had since its humble beginnings.
This included a changing exhibition space which showed “Magic Moments” of the organisation's history, from touring projects to famous visitors. Guests also got the chance to spot themselves on the embedded digital touch screens which hold over 800 photos from BYT’s extensive archive.
Guests took their seats in the beautifully decorated theatre for a three course meal provided by Burnley Leisure and Culture, live entertainment and dancing. The evening was all about remembering the past but also celebrating the now and looking to the future - to the next 50 years. This included heartfelt speeches from current Artistic Director and CEO Karen Metcalfe and Chair of Trustees Anthony Preston , memories from host Philip J Hindle, a short performance from a selection of the organisation’s current participants, an impactful film which
was accompanied with live spoken word by alumni Lewis Pugh, close up magic by alumni and Britain's Got Talent star Jasper Cherry and live music by alumni Jack Herbert and his band “Hot Air” along with alumni Alice Butterfield.
A special moment of the night was when Sir Ian McKellen appeared on the big screen to wish the theatre ‘Happy Birthday,’ thanking them for the past 50 years. and highlighting the importance a theatre has on a child's education.
The theatre was filled with people who have a close connection to the Youth Theatre from patron and alumni Joy Wilkinson, ex staff members including Lisa Allen who is now Head of Creative Development at HOME, Manchester and the Preston family whose late mother Moira Preston was a dedicated theatre volunteer and pivotal figure within Burnley.
A blended silent and live auction hosted by Anthony Preston entertained guests with bids going as high as £600 for a signed Lord of the Rings poster by Sir Ian Mckellen.