DEFIANT and optimistic.This is the message from the Co-op Juniors after news that their 25-year run at the Regent in Ipswich is under threat.For many people in Suffolk the Juniors are a tradition and an important part of theatre in the region.
DEFIANT and optimistic.
This is the message from the Co-op Juniors after news that their 25-year run at the Regent in Ipswich is under threat.
For many people in Suffolk the Juniors are a tradition and an important part of theatre in the region. Many juniors come from generations of enthusiastic youngsters who have made their first steps on to the Regent stage.
Mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers have woven themselves in to the fabric of the juniors and made this family-based organisation a real jewel in our crown.
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Despite this long history and tradition in the town there has been talk of the juniors moving their production to February to make room for a professional show throughout an extended season.
As yet no decision has been made about their future and while the juniors remain optimistic about their future it will be a shocking blow for many of the people involved.
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Bridie Rowe, from Ipswich, played the lead role in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in the latest pantomime and said she would be devastated by the prospect of losing their Christmas run.
"I would be absolutely devastated and cannot believe this could happen. It is heart-breaking news.
"The juniors have been part of my life for over 10 years and is for many others. It will effect a whole community and so many families are connected.
"The company is just so very important to many families. It doesn't bear thinking about Christmas without a Junior panto, you just cannot comprehend it," said the 17-year-old angrily.
Jane Bisco has been involved with the juniors for many years making costumes and helping behind the scenes and for all her family it is a real Christmas tradition.
"It just would not be the same if we were moved and it would be very sad because it gives people a chance to see local talent at its best.
"I am really shocked that they are considering this and our figures have shown that people really want to see Suffolk talent on the stage. All four members of my family are involved and it would certainly mean a very different Christmas for us. It would be a great, great shame for everyone."
Pam Walker, of the Co-op member education department said: "We are always delighted to use the Regent. We are having a meeting with the council soon to discuss the future and we are optimistic.
But in the cold hard light of the new financial day many theatres can no longer continue without the pull of a big name and a professional production to lure audiences from further afield.
Jane Walsh is the press officer at the Theatre Royal in Norwich and understands the pressure of meeting financial targets.
"This year with Jack and the Bean Stalk has been a very successful year for us and we will probably gross as much as we ever had.
"Financially it is very important that it does hit its targets and this is so much easier with a professional show. This is always the difficulty with a large theatre like us or the Regent, there are always problems staying alive.
"If the Regent are planning to bring in their own production it can only help them," she said.