Lancaster theatre celebrating 30 year outdoor anniversary

The Dukes staff and volunteers join some of the Treasure Island pirates to celebrate 30 years since the first park show. Picture by Darren Andrews.
The Dukes staff and volunteers join some of the Treasure Island pirates to celebrate 30 years since the first park show. Picture by Darren Andrews.
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Exactly 30 years ago this Saturday – June 24 – The Dukes opened its first ever promenade theatre season in Lancaster’s Williamson Park.

And to mark this milestone, theatre staff and some of The Dukes dozens of volunteers celebrated with a party and tucked into a 30th birthday cake made specially by Ginger Bakers of Kendal.

They were joined by three of the pirates who will be appearing in this year’s Dukes walkabout production of Treasure Island which runs from July 4-August 12.

The very first Dukes park show was A Midsummer Night’s Dream which opened appropriately on Midsummer’s Day in 1987.

Among the cast was a young Andy Serkis who went on to big screen success and is currently promoting his new film, War for the Planet of the Apes.

He described that first production as “a truly magical experience.”

One of the brains behind launching The Dukes outdoor season 30 years ago was the theatre’s artistic director at the time, Johnathan Petherbridge, who has since transferred the idea to London Bubble where he is now creative director.

Since 1987, The Dukes outdoor walkabout shows have attracted more than 500,000 people from home and abroad and last year’s version of The Hobbit won the 2016 UK Theatre Award for Best Show for Children and Young People.

The Hobbit proved so popular that performances later in the run sold out so this year The Dukes is recommending people to book early for Treasure Island to avoid missing out.

In Treasure Island audiences are invited to join Jem Hawkins on her journey along the winding paths and entrancing woodlands as she plans to escape her troubles, travel the world and make a new life for herself.

The problem is that she’s chosen the wrong crew: an opinionated parrot, a bunch of pirate buffoons and the terrifying Long John Silver, who watch over her every move.

Book on 01524 598500 or www.dukes-lancaster.org.