Juniors best interests at heart

DECISION makers currently pondering the fate of the Co-op Juniors Christmas have nothing but the company's best interests at heart.That is the view of Sarah Holmes chief executive of the New Wolsey Theatre, currently the only theatre in Ipswich to stage a professional pantomime, as the debate continues as to whether the Juniors should move to February to allow a traditional pantomime to be staged over Christmas.

By JO MACDONALD

joanne.macdonald@eveningstar.co.uk

DECISION makers currently pondering the fate of the Co-op Juniors Christmas show have nothing but the company's best interests at heart.

That is the view of Sarah Holmes, chief executive of the New Wolsey Theatre – currently the only venue in Ipswich to stage a professional pantomime.

The debate continues to rage over whether the Co-op Juniors should move to February to allow a traditional pantomime to be staged over Christmas at the Regal Theatre.

Ms Holmes is full of praise and support for the Juniors but believes the Regent needs a lot of work to ensure it is the best theatre it can be, which in turn would benefit the Juniors.

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"I think the Juniors are really fantastic," Ms Holmes said. "They are a unique venture in the town and need to be looked after and nurtured.

"There aren't many towns that can boast that amount of people involved in creating a such a production. It's an enormous undertaking and very successful.

"I think the borough council has difficulties in that it is a small authority trying to support a growing arts industry.

"The Regent fabric is in really bad repair and needs considerable work. At the moment it needs to be looking at ways of maximising its income. One way is to run a commercial pantomime. In turn that would enhance the venue for the other things.

"I don't think that anyone is trying to push the Juniors into something unpleasant. They are just looking at ways of funding the venue to make it better and something has to give somewhere.

"I think it's a move to try and create better facilities for the Juniors. No one wants to do anything but encourage them. They're brilliant.

"I do think the people making the decisions have got the best interests of the Co-op Juniors at heart."

Ms Holmes acknowledges that a professional pantomime, if it was to be brought in, would be competition for the New Wolsey's annual rock 'n' roll panto. However, she believes the popularity of pantomime is increasing to an extent that allows room for a number of productions from December through to February.

The annual production at Sir John Mills Theatre, a professional show though not a pantomime, and many other amateur shows prove different styles of show can co-exist for a period of time.

"It's really growing as a popular art form," she commented. "It's something that an enormous amount of people enjoy in lots of different ways.

"A professional pantomime would be competition for us, there's no doubt about that, but I believe we've got a unique style of pantomime.

n What do you think about the possibility of the Co-op Juniors Christmas show being moved to February? To show your support for the Juniors, fill in the coupon below and return it to us.

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