By Cheshire East Council - 8th January 2013 7:00am
Crewe's Lyceum Theatre is now one of the key venues on the touring circuit for some of the world's top comedy performers.
The keys to the Lyceum have been handed to HQ Theatres, the venue's new operator and tickets have already been snapped up for the likes of Micky Flanagan, Rich Hall and Andy Parsons.
The town centre theatre, which celebrated its centenary in 2011, will be given a new lease of life under the management of HQ Theatres, the country's second-largest theatre operator.
It will transform the venue, programme and hospitality opportunities as the theatre enters a new and exciting phase of its history.
Cheshire East Council will continue to part-fund the venue, but with a much-reduced subsidy, ensuring a better deal for tax payers.
Work has already started on a refurbishment of the foyers, in which a stylish new bistro is being created. This will be open daily from April, as well as a pre-theatre dining experience to add a touch of luxury to visits to the Lyceum.
The programme will be developed to include some of the UK's top comedians including Micky Flanagan, whose show sold out within hours of going on sale, and some huge acts yet to be announced.
The theatre will also stage classical and popular music concerts, opera and ballet as well as national tours of well-known family shows (appealing to all ages) and great stage plays and musicals.
The highlight of the theatrical calendar will be a star-led, traditional family pantomime staged by HQ Theatres' sister company Qdos Entertainment; the largest pantomime producer in the world. The star cast will be announced later in the spring.
A new Theatre Director, Alistair Armit, is now in place and, alongside his team, is busy overseeing the refurbishment and preparations for the new season, which will be announced in mid-February.
Alistair has spent his whole life in theatre and joins the Lyceum from the newly-rebuilt Floral Pavilion in Merseyside, so has experience of breathing new life into venues.
He said: "This is a very exciting period for the beautiful Edwardian theatre; we have big plans to put it back on the map and attract bigger and better shows that will appeal to everyone."
Until April the theatre will be staging performances including Agatha Christie's 'A Murder is Announced' with an all-star cast that includes Dean Gaffney and Gemma Bissix — both of Eastenders fame.
There will be a welcome return of 'That'll be the Day', the rock 'n' roll spectacular, and Crewe Amateur Musicals will be bringing to the stage a thrilling production of Sondheim's 'Sweeney Todd'.
In April, the venue will be re-launched with the opening of the cafe and bistro and a grand gala performance with a celebrity line-up to be announced.
Alistair added: "Look out for the new brochure in February and then come down for some lunch and a chat to the staff about the exciting new programme when we re-open in April. This is the time to be involved in this great theatre."
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