THE CROWDS flocked to Scarborough’s Futurist Theatre last night for the sell-out opening night of Calendar Girls.
The West End theatre sensation, set to be seen by at least 16,000 people during its eight-show seaside run, delighted the capacity audience.
Barrie Stead, who runs the 2,150-seater venue, told the Evening News ahead of curtain up yesterday: “It is quite remarkable. Plays are normally difficult to sell but we’re going to get 16,000 in six days. That puts us in line with every major theatre in the country.
“I’ve been involved with The Futurist for 10 years and certain shows stand out, but this is very special. It’s probably the most exciting event we’ve had since I’ve been running The Futurist.”
He added: “It just shows that if you get the right shows then people will travel.
“It proves the viability and necessity of The Futurist.
“ If we had the type of investment they’ve had at The Spa or the Open Air Theatre we could bring this type of attraction to Scarborough much more frequently.”
A stage crew of 20 had been working flat out since Sunday to get the set ready as well as installing state-of-the-art lighting and sound systems.
The anticipation was already building ahead of the doors opening yesterday evening, as theatre-goers gathered outside the venue.
Margaret Leyland, of Rotherham, said: “I’m really looking forward to it, it was a brilliant surprise when we found out it was on.”
Rita and Ken Ballantyne travelled to Scarborough from Pickering to see the show.
“We go to lots of shows but this is a really big one,” said Rita.
Ken added: “We’ve had our tickets for months. We knew it would sell out.”
Cheryl Cappleman, from the Peasholm area, said she would like to see more shows of the calibre of Calendar Girls in her native Scarborough.
“If we had a few more like this a lot more people would come and they would spend money while they’re here,” she added. “I think The Futurist ought to stay. It just needs a bit of a revamp.”
Pam Jones, of Whitby, snapped up one of the last pairs of tickets at lunchtime yesterday with her friend Kate Young.
“Calendar Girls is a big name,” Pam said. “We normally go to the Stephen Joseph Theatre but we’ve been to The Futurist before to see Grumpy Old Women and we enjoyed that.”
Fran Goodman, from Filey, was at the theatre with a group of friends to celebrate her 50th birthday. She said: “The show was absolutely marevellous. Everyone in it was superb. I can’t fault it at all.”
Moira Cranford, of Eastfield, had taken her daughter and granddaughter.
“We have seen the play before in Hull and once I realised it was coming to Scarborough I just had to see it again.
“It had everything, laughter and a few tears,”
Producer David Pugh was thrilled with the response.
“To hear more than 2,000 people laughing is fantastic,” he said. “We so much wanted to bring the show to Scarborough and we are thrilled it is a success.”