‘There’s nothing that can parallel live performance’ | Vicky Meets

Vicky meets... Caroline Bennett, marketing manager at The Regis Centre in Bognor.

• You’ve just reopened. How’s it going?

It’s really exciting! We have lots planned and we are doing all we can to make our customers feel safe, especially audiences from a slightly older demographic. We want to give everyone that full auditorium experience, but safety is our priority. Some shows and events will be socially distanced. The 2 O’clock Club, for instance, takes place in our studio. We can cap the numbers, open the doors to ensure ventilation and give people plenty of space. This will enable people to come back into the venue and build up their confidence. We have lots of events coming up that will do that. We have kept these really reasonably priced – free, in some cases – and have made everything as easy and accessible as possible for people to ease back into seeing live performance.

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• What sort of events?

Caroline Bennett, marketing manager at The Regis Centre in Bognor

Taking place throughout summer outside, the free events complement the BID’s lovely installation on the space next-door. Including traditional family seaside entertainment like Punch and Judy shows, hopefully people who haven’t seen shows here will attend some of the free events and get to know us. We have an incredibly loyal customer base, but it would be lovely to welcome new audiences too. There will be another free Family Fun Week in the October half term and then, of course, panto.

• Jack and the Beanstalk?

Yes! We know that panto has been really missed here. People really love getting together as a family and coming to the theatre to be silly. It’s such a lovely thing to do and we can’t wait to make this happen. It’s going to be a great show!

• You are at the heart of the community and you have many volunteers. Is everyone keen to return?

We have such a strong community. Our studio users were desperate to return and our volunteers come here because they want to, not because they have to. Everyone has gone completely above and beyond during the pandemic. We are so lucky in that it is a venue that is led by passion. But to remain viable we do depend on people using us; hiring our studios and buying tickets.

• What else is new?

Our café has had a revamp and we’ve extended the outside seating, so that’s another way to dip your toe into returning. We will also host open days for very small groups to be shown around. As for upcoming shows, there’s our Summer Sensation variety show hosted by TV comedian and ventriloquist Max Fulham, drama from Bersted Arts, BROS Musical Productions presenting a Sound of Musicals show with a 26-piece orchestra, the University of Chichester will be back with two musicals, and the Southdowns Folk Festival will be using the venue as a central hub. And lots more! We’ve become used to consuming the arts on TV, but there’s nothing that can parallel live performance. Feeling the energy of a live audience is like nothing else.

For further information visit www.alexandratheatre.co.uk