Gallery: Memories of the Spa Pavilion as theatre prepares to close its doors

Friday, December 28, 2012
3.30 PM

FOR people of all ages, stepping out onto the Spa Pavilion stage has been an amazing experience – and their first steps on a lifelong involvement with local theatre or even a career in showbiz.

It’s not just that feeling of treading the boards where so many famous people have also performed, but because it is such a large and impressive venue, harking back to the days when seaside theatres enjoyed long summer seasons and packed audiences.

Bringing really top stars to the seaside today though is not financially possible.

The 892-seater Spa once regularly hosted household names from TV, the likes of Lenny Henry, Bob Monkhouse, Cilla Black, Jimmy Tarbuck, Mike Yarwood, Les Dawson and Jim Davidson topping the bill.

Today’s equivalents – Michael McIntyre, Harry Hill, Peter Kay and John Bishop – probably wouldn’t ever consider swapping massive arenas such as the O2 with their huge pay-outs for a trip to the Suffolk coast and a comparatively much smaller fee, at least 25 times less.

While the Spa has struggled to attract top shows in recent years, it has still provided a fabulous venue for local companies.

Felixstowe Amateur Dramatic and Operatic Society, Felixstowe Musical Theatre, Marwyn School of Dance, The Gallery Players, Stage Door and the Dennis Lowe Theatre Company are among many who have made the theatre their home and will lose their premier venue when the building closes next month.

Some of the cast members have performed at the theatre for decades, many of the shows were billed as amateur but as good as the professionals. Who do you remember, and who are the stars who have come and gone from our lives but left their mark on a seaside theatre?

■ Write to Spa Memories, Ipswich Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or -email starnews@archant.co.uk