Actor questions publicity for play

LOCAL publicity for the former West End play Art at the Ipswich Regent has left much to be desired, according to actor Christopher Cazenove.The former Dynasty star, who plays the modern art lover Serge in the show, was puzzled by the apparent lack of interest for the internationally renowned drama among Ipswich theatregoers, after the Regent pulled three nights performances because of poor ticket sales.

LOCAL publicity for the former West End play Art at the Ipswich Regent

has left much to be desired, according to actor Christopher Cazenove.

The former Dynasty star, who plays the modern art lover Serge in the show,

was puzzled by the apparent lack of interest for the internationally renowned drama among Ipswich theatregoers, after the Regent pulled three nights performances because of poor ticket sales.


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He said: "We have a strange situation in Ipswich. Things have been going very well for us until now. We've just played at Harrogate where we had almost a complete sell out for two weeks.

"It was very curious coming into Ipswich. There was no sign for the theatre and I didn't see a single poster advertising Art. Even outside the theatre it was difficult to tell what show was on."

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Tickets for the award-winning play sold well in the touring show's two previous venues of Harrogate and Dartford and are already selling well in the next stop High Wycombe and beyond.

The theatre's management has said recent theatrical performances, including The Constant Wife, with Liza Goddard, which also failed to pull in the crowds, have been largely experimental and that building an audience for drama does not happen overnight.

Hazel Clover, operations manager for the Regent, said that given what she described as the "reasonable" budget identified for publicity, she was confident the theatre's marketing team had done everything they could.

She added: "Because of the decision we have been forced to take this week, we have reviewed all activity, including publicity. If you are looking at a budget of tens of thousands of pounds then obviously you would be able to do more, whether or not that would generate a larger audience."

She said existing poster sites and bill board space was used in the town "within the available budget", together with advertising on the sides of buses.

The problems with Art could threaten the future of drama at the Regent as they will necessarily influence a feasibility study, currently underway, to determine best use of the theatre.

"No one is disputing that the Regent may not be right for theatrical productions. That is what we are in the process of researching. We are in the very early stages of finding audiences for alternative products. Building new markets doesn't happen overnight," she added.

Councillor John Mowles, leading councillor for leisure at Ipswich Borough Council, said that although he did not know exactly how budgets were calculated for individual shows, overall, he was confident the Regent was on track with its publicity.

"For one reason or another this particular one hasn't gone down well with the public."

A spokesman for Art said the Regent may have scheduled in "too much drama", given that an audience had not yet been established for that genre.

He added: "We've come to a very amicable agreement with the theatre and can understand their decision. In the longer term an audience for drama will be something the Regent will have to build on. Hopefully when next we return, there will be an audience there for us."

Art is co-produced by Sean Connery who first saw the original French version in Paris in 1994 and was so impressed he decided to back an English language production.

The result, translated by Christopher Hampton, opened at Wyndham's Theatre in 1996 to critical acclaim winning its playwright, Yasmina Reza an Olivier Award and an Evening Standard award for Best Comedy. The production has since been performed in scores of countries across the globe.

Tickets are still available for performances of Art on Friday and Saturday , starting at £8.50. To book contact the box office on 01473 433100 or www.ipswich-ents.co.uk

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