Roy makes ‘Huddlines’ at theatre handover

AN historic day for Lowestoft's largest theatre was celebrated in style – with the help of 'showbiz royalty'.

The official handover of the Marina Theatre to a charitable trust was completed last week, and to mark the occasion, veteran comedian, actor, radio host and author Roy Hudd made a special toast to its future.

The Marina Theatre Trust has now taken over the running of the theatre on a 15-year contract from Waveney District Council, having already unveiled an impressive line-up of shows for the 2012 season.

During a special launch event last Friday, the dawning of a new era was celebrated by councillors, council officers, representatives from the Theatres Trust, Friends of the Marina Theatre, the cast from this year's pantomime Jack and the Beanstalk, staff and management at the venue, and specially-invited guests.

Addressing the gathering, the new trust's chairman, Hazel Clover, said the new set-up would have major benefits for the Marina and would 'enable us to take the venue even further as a community resource.'

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Praising the support of the council and the theatre's staff and Friends, she said: 'This is a special occasion for us as we move forward to a new era. The support of the Friends has been integral in terms of where the theatre is today. The hard work and commitment of the theatre staff deserves a lot of credit and I would like to congratulate (Marina manager) Martin Halliday – I am absolutely thrilled to be working alongside him.'

Mr Halliday, who has taken on the role of theatre chief executive, acknowledged the hard work that had gone in to safeguard the Marina's future after concerns only a year ago that its role as a full-time theatre might be in doubt.

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He said: 'I am thrilled today to be able to officially launch the Marina Theatre Trust. It has been a long time coming and we've had some ups and downs over the years – but we now look forward to a new future.'

Introducing 'real showbiz royalty', Mr Halliday then handed over to Mr Hudd, who treated those present to trademark jokes before saying: 'To be here at the birth of something wonderful, which this is going to be, is wonderful for me. I know the panto will be successful, and the main reason that so many people across the country are excited about this theatre is Martin Halliday – he is a great inspirer of people and Paul Holman Associates (producers of the pantomime) send their best wishes to you all.

'The toast is to the Marina Theatre Trust,' he concluded, to great applause.

Speaking on behalf of the Friends committee, Mike Holroyd told The Journal: 'We are so, so pleased. We started the ball rolling and it has been a long, hard road. Everyone is so positive.'

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