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Heatwaves and ghostbusters – 30 years ago in The Stage

The front page of the June 22, 1989 issue of The Stage
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June 22, 1989: Three decades ago the hot weather was causing big problems for theatre, with a “Mediterranean-style heatwave” blamed for a fall in theatre audiences around the country.

The producers behind a successful touring production of Gypsy – starring Hi-de-Hi! actor Ruth Madoc – revealed they had scrapped plans to extend the run because of the sweltering weather. Theatre managers across the country reported a drop in sales, with the smaller venues hit hardest.

In North Wales, Theatr Clwyd’s Dream of Merlin feared that the fall in sales would hit future show budgets. Its marketing manager told The Stage that the heatwave “had added to the slump caused by the rise in interest rates, which had left many families with £50 a month less in spending money”.

The sun had an adverse effect on Theatre Royal Stratford East’s Down Every Street too. “The show attracted a generally older audience, and the weather, coupled with the fact we don’t have air conditioning, may have caused difficulties,” the press officer said.

Also in the issue was news that a team of ghostbusters had been sent in to the Hippodrome Circus at Great Yarmouth in search of a phantom believed to be George Gilbert, the impresario who built the Hippodromes at Yarmouth and Lowestoft.

If you’d like to read more stories from the history of theatre, all previous content from The Stage is available at the British Newspaper Archive in a convenient, easy-to-access format. Please visit: thestage.co.uk/archive

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