Ipswich: Record month for Regent and New Wolsey as crowds flock to Rock’n’Roll panto Dick Whittington, Peter Pan and Cats

The crowds are up there! Lloyd Warby and Christopher Ellison in Peter Pan at the Regent.

The crowds are up there! Lloyd Warby and Christopher Ellison in Peter Pan at the Regent. - Credit: Archant

An infestation of felines and a visit from the boy who never grew up have helped produce record figures for the region’s largest theatre.

More than 33,000 people paid to watch shows at the Ipswich Regent during December – a record for the venue.

And they paid a total of £643,000 for their tickets.

Meanwhile at the other end of the town, the New Wolsey’s legendary Rock’n’Roll panto Dick Whittington has been putting up the “House Full” signs on an almost daily basis – up to 98% of the tickets for the 80 shows have been sold.

At the 1,500-seat Regent the record figures were boosted by the pantomime Peter Pan, which finished last night after a hugely-successful 11-day run, and by the week-long run of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Cats.

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The previous record month for the Regent was December 2010 when 24,500 people paid £487,000 to watch shows at the theatre.

December is always the busiest month of the year with pre-Christmas shows and the panto pulling in theatre-goers.

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The Regent is owned and managed by the borough council, whose spokeswoman for leisure and culture Bryony Rudkin welcomed the news of its success.

She said: “We are delighted that the Regent has set a record both for the number of tickets sold and the receipts that have come in.

“The pantomime proved to be a great success and comes a the end of an outstanding month. I would like that thank the cast of both Peter Pan and Cats who brought such great entertainment to the town.”

She said the success of the shows at the Regent would have had a knock-on effect throughout the town as some of the visitors to Ipswich would have come in early – or stayed after a matinee – to eat or even catch up on some Christmas shopping before the show started.

At the New Wolsey, Dick Whittington runs until January 25 – but all performances at the 400-seat theatre are almost full with only a handful of tickets available for those which are not sold out already.

Jeni Raw from the New Wolsey said both the theatre’s family-orientated productions had been very popular – it has a production of the Elves and the Shoemaker for younger children at the Wolsey Studio Theatre that had also sold out.

“This has been a great season for us. There are only a few tickets left, and they are mainly individual seats – but it’s always worth putting your name on the waiting list because we do get returns,” she said.

The New Wolsey was trying out a “relaxed” performance of its panto on January 16 aimed at people who did not like the bangs, flashes and crashes you normally find in a panto – and where people will be able to wander in and out if they need to.

Tickets for this performance are still available – but cannot be booked online.

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