Co-op Juniors come out on top

VOTES have been counted and the result is clear – the public loves the Co-op Juniors.

By Jo Macdonald

Entertainment editor

VOTES have been counted and the result is clear – the public loves the Co-op Juniors.

As the Ipswich-based group battle to maintain their traditional Christmas pantomime slot at the Regent their bid for survival has been given a major boost.

Following two days of public voting their recent production of Snow White has been announced winner of the People's Choice Award to be presented at the forthcoming ESTAAs (East Suffolk Theatre Amateur Awards).

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Twenty-five amateur shows were in the running for the award – which is sponsored by the Evening Star and Tower Ramparts Shopping Centre and is the only ESTAA to be chosen by the public – but after nearly 400 votes were cast it was the Juniors who came out on top.

The Trimley Saints Players production of Jack The Ripper came in as a close second, missing out on the award by only five votes. Stage Door's version of The King & I came third.

ESTAA director Jacqueline Cumiskey said: "The Co-op Juniors have won the People's Choice Award revealing the public really are behind them and their fight to stay at the Regent at Christmas.

"With only five votes separating them, The Trimley Saints Players only narrowly missed out on the award this year but hope to rectify this next year with their September production of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas."

Voting for the People's Choice Award was carried out over two days, at Tower Ramparts, in Ipswich, and Solar Superstore, in Felixstowe. More than £150 was also raised over the weekend and will be added to the ESTAA charity fund with money being donated to the Vicky Hall Memorial Fund, Disability Care Enterprise, East Suffolk Mind, Victim Support, St Elizabeth Hospice and Age Concern.

The Co-op Juniors' award comes as they fight to hold on to their traditional Christmas place on the Ipswich entertainment calendar. Debate has been raised as to whether the Juniors' annual pantomime should be moved to February to allow the Regent to bring in a professional festive show for a longer run.

However, since the Evening Star launched its Hands Off The Juniors Campaign hundreds of people have written in to show their support for the much loved theatre group.

The Juniors' will receive their award on March 28 at the Swallow Belstead Brook where the glittering ESTAA ceremony will be held and attended by representatives of the region's many amateur groups as well as Peter Purves and Helen McDermott.

The ESTAAs are sponsored by Global Sound & Light, in Felixstowe, Ipswich and eight awards are up for grabs.