Plays in the park prove a must-see for half a million

The Dukes is celebrating a milestone in the history of its outdoor theatre season.

This year’s outdoor walkabout show – Hansel & Gretel And More Tales From The Forest – has seen audience numbers hit 500,000 since The Dukes launched this unique theatrical experience in 1987.

The half a million audience milestone makes the Lancaster theatre’s walkabout season the biggest of its kind in the UK.

The Dukes Director, Joe Sumsion said: “The Dukes pioneered outdoor walkabout theatre in the UK in 1987 and we are delighted that 27 years on we have given half a million people the chance to experience one of the most special forms of theatre.”

And those who’ve already seen this year’s production, featuring not only Hansel & Gretel but also a vegetarian wolf and tricycling frog among its many characters, have been effusive in their praise.

Critics have claimed this year’s Dukes outdoor offering is better than Regent Park’s theatre in London and is one of the more spectacular theatre outings of recent times.

The Dukes set out on its journey towards its newly reached milestone on June 24, 1987 with a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Among the cast was Andy Serkis who is currently starring in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and will appear in the new Star Wars film.

Another actor who has fond memories of appearing in The Dukes promenade shows is Cherylee Houston, who currently plays Izzy Armstrong in Coronation Street and recently became an honorary patron of The Dukes.

The mix of great drama told against the glorious backdrop of Williamson Park proved an instant hit in the late Eighties and thousands have attended ever since.

The Dukes outdoor season is now a major tourist attraction for visitors to Lancaster during the summer, helping the theatre to win the Lancashire Tourism Cultural Venue/Organisation Award 2013.