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Great Yarmouth entertainment conference to be held

PUBLISHED: 14:34 18 October 2017 | UPDATED: 14:34 18 October 2017

Morcambe & Wise opens Friends of the Hospital fete at Great Yarmouth  pic taken 27th july 1967  m5652-33a  pic to be used in lets talk aug 2013

Morcambe & Wise opens Friends of the Hospital fete at Great Yarmouth pic taken 27th july 1967 m5652-33a pic to be used in lets talk aug 2013

In its holiday heyday Great Yarmouth boasted a string of theatres drawing thousands of trippers.

Great Yarmouth showfolk

Mike and Bernie Winters show - also in picture a young Mike Yarwood (third from left), Britannia Pier Theatre last night

Dated: 16th September 1967 Great Yarmouth showfolk Mike and Bernie Winters show - also in picture a young Mike Yarwood (third from left), Britannia Pier Theatre last night Dated: 16th September 1967

Their sold-out shows hosted the most famous names of the day, the likes of Morecambe and Wise bringing sunshine whatever the weather outside on the prom.

But as times and tastes have changed the seaside tradition has suffered.

And while some theatres continue to thrive, others have taken their last bow and haven’t seen an audience or heard a round of applause for years.

The conundrum of how to make theatres successful, and what to do with the redundant ones is the subject of a national conference called That’s Entertainment being staged at Yarmouth’s St George’s Theatre.

St Georges Theatre on King Street in Great Yarmouth.
March 2014.

Picture: James Bass St Georges Theatre on King Street in Great Yarmouth. March 2014. Picture: James Bass

Itself a turnaround example of what can be achieved the theatre will welcome a range of experts.

Questions will be asked about what people want for their seaside entertainment, why some seaside theatres thrive while others have closed, and what can be done with many lovely Victorian and Edwardian theatres which have either closed or are struggling to survive.

The national conference is being organised by the Great Yarmouth Cultural Heritage Partnership and supported by Great Yarmouth Borough Council.

A spokesman said: “Entertainment is at the heart of all seaside resorts but this has changed dramatically over recent decades and many resorts are struggling with competition from cheap flights to foreign parts with more or less guaranteed sun.

STILL LAUGHING IN CIVVY STREET: wartime radio favourite Cheerful Charlie Chester headed the bill at the Regal Theatre in Great Yarmouth in the summer of 1958 with his Pot Luck game show; three years earlier he had starred in the Royal Aquarium's show. Picture: MERCURY LIBRARY STILL LAUGHING IN CIVVY STREET: wartime radio favourite Cheerful Charlie Chester headed the bill at the Regal Theatre in Great Yarmouth in the summer of 1958 with his Pot Luck game show; three years earlier he had starred in the Royal Aquarium's show. Picture: MERCURY LIBRARY

“Concentrating mainly on theatres, the conference will trace the history of seaside entertainment and how it has changed. It will discuss what entertainment is required and how some theatres have bucked the trend and are run successfully. It will look at some large Edwardian theatres and seek to find uses for them.”

Speakers will include historian David McDermott, Jack Jay of the Hippodrome Circus, Joe Mackintosh, chief executive of SeaChange Arts, and Debbie Thompson who is credited with transforming the Little Theatre at Sheringham.

Another success story being upheld as a ray of hope is the Pavilion Theatre at Gorleston which runs without any subsidy.

This conference is on Friday November 3, 9.30-4pm.

Tickets, which include a buffet lunch, cost £20 or £15 for those living in the borough via 01493 881484 or visit the website here for more information.

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