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Supporters of Shanklin Theatre celebrated 10 years since the theatre was saved from closure and possible demolition during an evening to remember last Tuesday (2nd October).

Over the past 10 years the theatre has grown exponentially and is now fully recognised as a major venue on the UK touring circuit. The theatre also supports many local dance, drama and music groups from across the Isle of Wight including The Island Savoyards, First Act, the Pepperpot Players, Spotlight IOW and the Footsteps Dance Studio. They all performed during last week’s special and unique, non-profit show.

The performances on the night ranged from ‘A Ruff Guide to Macbeth’ humorously performed by First Act; ‘Putting on the Glitz’ from the superb Footsteps Dance Studio and the Island Savoyards treating the audience to some great ‘Favourite Musical Moments’. The Pepperpot Players delighted the audience with a hilarious rendition during their performance entitled ‘If I was not Upon the Stage’ (balls to you Sir!).

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The penultimate performance of the evening came from Spotlight IOW, entitled ‘Songs from the Shows’ – this included a spine chilling and exceptional vocal performance adaptation of the song ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ from the musical originally written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Richard Stilgoe. All groups performed magnificently and with eloquence to a full and sold out house.

Entertainment also included a marvellous interspersed audio/visual presentation exploring the theatre’s history from its construction in 1878. This included key dates, such as the change from Institute to Town Hall in 1913, the Second World War in 1945, the boom years from 1950, the threat of closure and revival leading up to the present day.

Sadly, due to illness, the theatre’s director and chairman, Mr Vic Farrow was unable to attend on the night. Shanklin Theatre MD, Mr David Kast kindly addressed the audience in Vic’s absence, and was presented with a personally inscribed crystal glass memento from Major General Sir Martin White on Vic’s behalf as outgoing managing director. The inscribed memento was a token gesture of appreciation recognising Vic’s incredible work with Shanklin Theatre over the last 10 years. The inscription reads: ‘Presented to Vic Farrow on 2nd October 2018 in recognition of his unstinting contribution to Shanklin Theatre’.

The audience was also gifted with various messages of support and congratulations from past performing artists that have donned the theatre’s stage, these included; Jimmy Osmond, Danny Baker, Jimmy Jemain, Joe Pasquale and John Suchet. Theatre Patron Raymond Allen delighted all with hilarious outtakes of his attempt to give a sincere message of appreciation, only to be distracted by a boxing puppet under the control of a certain Mr Pasquale.

Following on from that, the High Sheriff of the Isle of Wight; Gioia Minghella-Giddens graced the stage and gave an inspirational speech of her life and for the future of Shanklin Theatre.

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The Grand Finale culminated in a superb light and sound presentation showcasing the theatre’s premium sound PA system and high tech lighting rigs, these are now recognised as one of the best systems installed to a theatre of this size around the UK.

As a small token gesture of appreciation to all that attended on the night, a 10th Anniversary Celebration ‘Goody Bag’ was issued to the audience. This comprised of personalised items such as; leather coaster, key fob and bookmark, an engraved pen, postcard, stick of Shanklin Theatre rock and celebration programme.

Thanks has been given to all performers, supporters and sponsors which include: Clifton Hotel, First Act Theatre Group, Island Web Services, Jane Oliver Educational Consultant, Ron Bird & Son, Snowdon House, TL Design Works and Wightlink.

Report by Michael Beston. Photos by Rob Robertson.

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