THE curtain goes up today on one of the biggest theatre events Scarborough has ever seen.
At least 16,000 people are expected to go through the doors of the Futurist this week as Calendar Girls hits town.
And 20 extra staff have been drafted in to deal with audiences for eight shows and repairs have been done to spruce up the 2,150-seater building.
More than 85 per cent of seats have been booked with at least £500,000 taken in ticket sales. “I haven’t seen anything like this in years,” said Barrie Stead who runs the seafront venue. “I’d have to go back to the Black and White Minstrel Shows in the 1960s and 1970s when we ran shows twice a night for anything comparable,” said Mr Stead.
“I have been in theatre a long time and drama is the hardest to sell. I was told Calendar Girls was a global phenomenon and it is true. I have never seen anything so popular.”
The play has an all-star cast led by Loose Women panellist Lynda Bellingham. It opens today and runs daily until Saturday, plus matinees on Wednesday and Saturday.
There is a last-minute cast change. Former Emmerdale actress Deena Payne has replaced Jennifer Ellison, who broke her wrist trying to stop the piano she plays in the show toppling over.
Mr Stead there were seats available for all the shows.
“Anyone who wants to come will get in,” said Mr Stead. “Although Calendar Girls has sold well people forget just how large the Futurist is,” he said.
“We have brought in extra staff every day – and have brought ice-cream trays from the Hollywood Plaza to cope with demand,
“Scarborough Council has been super – it has done repairs to the Futurist to make sure the building looks good for customers and cast.”
The cliff lift next to St Nicholas Gardens will remain open at night during the run to take play-goers to and from the seafront.
Theatre doors will open at least 45 minutes before curtain up to give people time to get to their seats.
“There is great excitement among the staff, most of them have never witnessed anything like this.
“May be this a new dawn,” said Mr Stead. “The Futurist is not getting rich wit this but may be it is shopwing the council the contribution the Futurist can make on a regular basis.”
The theatre announced earlier this month that it will also host a week-long run of award-winning musical Dreamboats and Petticoats next year.
It will run from Monday February 27 to Saturday March 3.