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Sunday, 20 April 2014

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Carlisle panto smashes box office records

This year’s Sands Centre pantomime has smashed all of its box office records, celebrating its best year ever.

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Seventh heaven: Snow White, played by Kayleigh MacRae, and the cast of the record-breaking Sands Centre panto. Below, Maureen Nolan

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs has not yet finished its run, but has already become the highest- grossing pantomime in the Carlisle centre’s history.

The performance, starring singer Maureen Nolan, has been so popular that it has sold out at least six times and has regularly attracted crowds of 900 and 1,000.

Jonathan Higgins, executive producer of the pantomime, said: “It is the biggest grossing pantomime we have had, which is staggering and it really has knocked us for six.

“Obviously we are not at the end of our run either.”

The show finishes tomorrow with its final performance at 11am. Total audience figures are expected to exceed last year’s 18,000. Mr Higgins said the pantomime’s success shows the county may be heading out of recession.

“For me I always gauge how people are feeling about the economic situation,” he said. “If they are willing to spend money on a pantomime tickets then usually things are looking all right.

“It is really pleasing – we are all walking around with huge smiles on our faces. It is just a great show and people have loved it. We sold 500 tickets on Christmas Day, which speaks for itself.”

Mr Higgins puts the show’s success down to increased marketing, a television advert and partnerships with the local media.

“People think that we put on the show just for huge commercial gains, but we put it on because we should be. We are the only large theatre space in a 60-mile radius so we should be making sure that it is the biggest and best in the region,” he added.

“We are a public facility and we produce it for the people of Carlisle and the region. We are so grateful that people come and buy tickets for it. It is very humbling that tens of thousands have come to see it: it makes it all worthwhile.”

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