Ballet hard work

PERFORMING at the Regent became a gruelling ordeal for a ballet company forced to tape up wires and mend the toilet, the Evening Star revealed today. The English Youth Ballet's performance of Cinderella was dogged by a litany of problems with the Ipswich Regent's backstage facilities.

PERFORMING at the Regent became a gruelling ordeal for a ballet company forced to tape up wires and mend the toilet, the Evening Star revealed today.

The English Youth Ballet's performance of Cinderella was dogged by a litany of problems with the Ipswich Regent's backstage facilities.

This news comes after the Star revealed the Regent could be let to a private company.

Janet Lewis, director of English Youth Ballet, said: "We performed at the Regent three years ago.

"The scenery, the curtains, the black masking and the lighting – it looks as if no money has been spent on it for three years.

"The lights listed on the inventory didn't seem to be there and some of the others were unworkable.

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"We had to hire an extra light and get hold of bulbs and knobs. The theatre was very helpful and the manager offered to take the cost on board.

"We also had to hire a sound system and again they offered to help.

"We had a plumber in to mend the toilet and we had to tape up some wires.

"We were working right through the dress rehearsal - and almost to when the audience came in - because of the lack of facilities."

"It was very said to see the deterioration. Suffolk needs that theatre.

"We would love to return, but as it is we would have to think twice about coming to Ipswich because it was so difficult."

The Regent is also the setting for the Co-op Juniors' production of Pinocchio.

Pam Walker, member education officer for the Ipswich and Norwich Co-operative Society, said: "I think everybody recognises that it needs investment.

"We use it twice a year – and are happy to do so – but it could do with investment."

Hazel Clover, manager of the Ipswich Regent, said: "We don't have a lot of facilities in-house, so some equipment is either brought in or provided by the theatre.

"We don't have our own sound system – because every production needs a different sound system.

"But it does need investment. The fabric of the building backstage is in need of investment in terms of décor and repair.

"Some facilities – like the toilets – are old. Some of the in-house specialist services such as lighting and sound are in need of updating."

Ipswich Borough Council accepts the Regent needs investment – and is currently reviewing the theatre's status.

John Mowles, lead councillor for leisure, said: "There is a need for improvement, but tens of thousands of people like to go to the Regent and there are very many performers who make no complaints.

He added: "We are aware that we could do with investment, but the borough council does not have investment available.

"But we have a feasibility study commissioned and hopefully that will help the council consider a way forward to ensure live entertainment at the Regent."

The feasibility study, set to finish around the end of the year, is considering several options.

Ipswich Borough Council could continue owning and running the Regent or a private concern could end up working in partnership with the borough council.

Some sort of trust or not-for-profit organisation could also be involved.

N What do you think? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or visit the forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk

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