Bad Girls’ star Helen Fraser backs Gorleston Pavilion’s £1m restoration plans

Helen Fraser Helen Fraser

Sunday, March 23, 2014
8:55 AM

A much-loved seaside theatre is hoping the vast experience and dedication of its newest patron will give it a boost as it looks towards a £1m restoration to guarantee its future.

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Gorleston Pavilion TheatreGorleston Pavilion Theatre

Prolific British actress Helen Fraser is the latest famous name to pledge support to Gorleston’s Grade II Pavilion Theatre which wants to end years of make-do-and-mend and mount a total revamp.

The landmark building - and what goes on inside - has flourished in the hands of theatre lovers Stuart Malkovich and Kevin Lynch who have been in charge for the last 20 years, bringing back much of its Edwardian splendour.

Having taken over what was simply “a shell” they have formed a charitable trust and are working with the borough council to secure grant funding.

Bucket collections, fetes and raffles have raised tens of thousands, much of which has already been ploughed back into urgent roof repairs.

But securing the backing and encouragement of Bad Girls’ legend and Coronation Street actress Helen was an important step helping to lever awareness and boost the appeal, Mr Malkovich said.

“We have Des Barrit and Helen McDermott already and I have known Helen Fraser for a few years now. To have her on board will help raise the profile. It means we have them for quotes and photos and helps people to understand that it is all genuine and decent. People who follow her may get on board with us as well.

“She has been in the business for years and years working all the time, she is totally committed and dedicated to the business. We can draw on her experience and she loves the theatre as well so it is a give and take situation. We are really excited about it because she is just a lovely lady.”

Raising money for the cherished theatre that has withstood the worst the weather can throw at it for more than 100 years was like “swimming through treacle,” he said.

Some of the most urgent repairs centred on the roof and damage that was done several years ago when thieves scaled the building and attempted to steal copper from the roof. Although it has now been made watertight the ultimate aim would be to replace it with a look-a-like material similar to the that which coats the domes at Norwich station.

And while the fabric of the building needs looking at too there was also a desire for some sumptuous cosmetic improvements that would bring back a lustrous burgundy and gold interior and opulent chandeliers.

The building was designed by borough surveyor John W Cockrill who was also responsible for the Hippodrome Circus in Yarmouth.

Toilets, entrance areas, and foyers are all in line for an upgrade under the scheme which aims to restore rather than modernise.

Mrs Fraser lists among her many credits a starring role in Billy Liar, the 1963 film considered a key movie in the British new wave.

To chime with her recent appointment Helen Fraser is set to bring her one woman show tracing her 50 years in acting to the Pavilion Theatre on March 29, tickets £10 from the box office on 01493 667832.

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