Waterside Theatre boss answers your questions

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Bucks Herald readers were asked to submit questions for Elizabeth Adlington, the chief executive of Aylesbury Waterside Theatre. Here is what she had to say:

Would it be more profitable to reduce the cost of seats and sell more tickets? (Charles Cox). “We often offer leading West End productions at a cost significantly lower than the West End, however, there is a significant cost to touring a big scale high quality production to regional venues and the price of tickets reflects this. Aylesbury Waterside Theatre doesn’t set the ticket prices for touring shows, they are set in agreement with the producer of each individual show and are aligned to prices across the tour. We are working to develop our audiences which takes time but we are proud of the sell-out successes we have all enjoyed so far.”

A11 Week 23'MCBH'DP'Season preview at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre - pictured is Chief Executive of Waterside Theatre Elizabeth Adlington and Padraig Cusack, Associate Producer of The National Theatre

A11 Week 23'MCBH'DP'Season preview at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre - pictured is Chief Executive of Waterside Theatre Elizabeth Adlington and Padraig Cusack, Associate Producer of The National Theatre

When are we going to have some decent bands at the Theatre instead of ballet and opera? (Paul Merrison) “It is our aim to bring as a diverse a range of shows as we can to Aylesbury including music, comedy, musicals, drama, dance and children’s shows, along with our Live screenings and our Comedy Club. In the next season we’re welcoming Joan Armatrading, David Essex and Show of Hands and in the past have enjoyed performances from Bill Wyman, Jedward and the Osmonds to name a few. In today’s climate high profile popular bands opt for large arenas which can make securing them for a venue of our size more challenging. We will continue to broaden our programme at the Waterside and are in regular contact with a number of music promoters.”

Why is it that the theatre is often in darkness at prime time on a Saturday night? (Roger King) “Over 2012 the theatre will have been closed on approximately 14 Saturday evenings, two months of which fall within the theatres planned ‘dark’ period for maintenance work. Often our shows finish around 10pm and the theatre then closes for the evening. Many shows take 24 hours to ‘get out’ with the following show taking 24 hours to ‘get in’ and during this time the theatre will closed while the lighting and scenery is set up and taken down on the stage. Many regional theatres also ‘go dark’ during the summer holidays. This is a time when tickets sales are typically lower than usual, and when many touring shows take a summer break.”

I think the building is iconic, Do you feel a sense of pride when you arrive there each day or are you used to it? (Alan Keen) “Yes – Enormous pride. I usually drive along exchange street and the view surprises and impresses me every time. A great start to the day!”

Why the seats are so uncomfortable? I have to take a cushion for my husband to encourage him to come to the Theatre. (Angela Butowski). “By industry standards our seating is significantly larger (wider and deeper) and has more leg room than the majority of theatres across the UK, particularly older theatres. The seating was designed by the architect to be comfortable, functional and hardwearing and for additional comfort each seat has individual air conditioning. Seating size also varies dependant on where you are in the auditorium and there may be a style of seating which you might find more comfortable, you can discuss your preferences or options with our Box Office team on booking. If you are uncomfortable when visiting us please make a member of our front of house team aware and we will be happy to do what we can to ensure you are as comfortable as possible.”

Why is it that many top-ranking West End touring productions by-pass the Waterside en route for Milton Keynes, I am on the mailing list for both venues. (Frances King) “Since the Waterside has opened we have enjoyed a number of very high profile companies and productions which have not toured to other venues in the region, including One man two Guvnors which went on to Broadway and the West End to achieve numerous awards. We also recently enjoyed Dandy Dick and we can also look forward to Blue/Orange – prior to the West End. Earlier this year Legally Blonde toured to Aylesbury prior to Milton Keynes and Oxford and in the upcoming season we are looking forward to 42nd street which, has not yet visited any other Buckinghamshire theatres. In September the RSC will also be making their an exclusive and first visit to Aylesbury with their production of Julius Caesar.”