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Mum and daughter's Royal celebration in St Helens

Published: 17 February 2019

Theatrical duo Jane Joseph and Chantelle Nolan are marking 20 years in charge of St Helens Theatre Royal.

Regal Entertainments Ltd, which is run by the mother and daughter team, took over the tenancy of the town’s popular playhouse in 1999.

Since then it has presented a programme of drama, comedy and panto productions to St Helens audiences and has helped turn the Corporation Street venue into a theatrical success story.

Regal Entertainments is also celebrating a second landmark this season with 2019 marking 25 years since Jane produced her first pantomime, Aladdin, at the Neptune Theatre in Liverpool.

It was her work in theatres across Liverpool with her then company Crown Productions which led to her being offered the tenancy of the Theatre Royal. The first show at the St Helens venue was Peter Pan over Easter 1999.

The theatre has also welcomed a host of household names and in 2014, Bill Kenwright brought the touring production of Blood Brothers, which also returned last year.

Company director Jane and theatre general manager Chantelle produce all the in-house productions which each year include three seasonal pantos and a stage play.

Jane said, “it’s been quite a 20 years. We’ve faced some challenges but have also had many wonderful moments—the first time Blood Brothers came to us is a particular highlight, along with David Gest visiting with his Motown legends, and the wonderful Jane McDonald.

“Peter Kay booked us as a venue for Tony Christie and soon after the date was announced 'Is This the Way to Amarillo' was released.

“On another occasion, Bond Girl Honor Blackman was coming to us but her tour bus got lost in St Helens’ one-way system and we had to send out someone to find her!”

St Helens Theatre Royal was designed by celebrated theatre architect Frank Matcham and opened its doors in 1901, replacing the Theatre Royal and Opera House which had stood on the same site until it was destroyed by fire in 1899.

David Upton