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Theatre Ready to Scale the Heights in Dramatic New Era

Forum Theatre Billingham is climbing to new heights thanks to a major investment programme.

The Forum Theatre Billingham has unveiled ‘giant’ ambitions after being taken over by charitable trust, Tees Active – and there are already signs of healthy growth with record ticket sales for Jack and The Beanstalk. This year’s panto, which runs from December 2 to 31, is part of an autumn and winter brochure featuring the most ambitious programme at the theatre for years.

Tees Active took over the running of the theatre from Riverside Leisure Limited in April, heralding an exciting new era, with a refreshed brand signalling plans to grow the theatre’s reputation across the country, as well as on Teesside and the wider North-East.

The rebrand, which includes a modern website, new season brochure, and extensive redecoration to the front-of-house and bar areas, drives key improvements across the service, designed to enhance the customer experience. The backstage infrastructure has also been enhanced with state-of-the-art equipment upgrades.

Tees Active has a strong track record of developing and improving services across the borough at other leisure venues, including Billingham Forum Leisure Centre, IB Leisure, Splash, Thornaby Pavilion, Thornaby Pool, and Tees Barrage International White Water Centre.

Managing Director, Leon Jones, said: “Our aim now is to use the experience and expertise we’ve built up to take The Forum Theatre to a whole new level.”

“The theatre is well established as a popular and valued venue at the heart of the local community, and our commitment and investment represent a vote of confidence in its future as a key part of Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council’s cultural offer.”

“Our aspiration is to enhance its local, regional and national profile, so that it attracts bigger shows to add to the existing exciting programme, whilst also maximising the theatre’s fantastic space for community events, conferences and meetings.”

Councillor Steve Nelson, Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Health, Leisure and Culture, added: “It’s great to see the investment and improvements being made by the new Forum Theatre managers, Tees Active.”

“The programme is exciting, the website and the building has been refreshed, and the community use of the theatre is increasing. The Christmas panto is always popular, but the record ticket sales for this year’s show are a clear indication that the new managers are giving people what they want.”

Tees Active has taken on an additional 21 people and invested in training and professional development.

There are future plans to engage with national bodies, such as Arts Council England, Theatres Trust, and UK Theatre, to develop the offer at the Grade II listed theatre that was opened by HRH Queen Elizabeth II and staged its first performance in August 1967.

More than half a century later, it has now completed this year’s Spring and Summer seasons, with an entertaining mix of shows, including Strictly’s Nadiya Bychkova and Kai Waddrington, Foster and Allen, The Drifters, plus children’s favourites the Twirly Woos, and The Tiger Who Came To Tea.

The focus now turns to a vibrant autumn and winter programme, with shows including the opera, Madama Butterfly; comedian Ed Byrne; singing legend Paul Young; and Peppa Pig’s Fun Day Out. Christmas is also sure to be bags of fun, with Jack and The Beanstalk – starring Connor McIntyre – alias Coronation Street’s Pat Phelan – on target to attract record numbers. The ever-popular Viennese Strauss Christmas Gala also returns on December 8, followed by Christmas Party Nights on December 15 and 16.

To find out more about what’s happening, go to: forumtheatrebillingham.co.uk

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