Praying for rain to help show

Pity the poor producers this year. Think about the year they’ve had and you’ll forgive Bruce James for praying for rain when he brings his production of The Jungle Book to Worthing’s Connaught Theatre (August 25-27, 1.30pm and 4.30pm).

Wednesday, 24th August 2011, 8:54 am

He needs something to drive people in to see his show.

Fortunately he’s a producer who comes up with all sorts of shows from children’s to panto, from thrillers to farce.

Just as well. It certainly wasn’t the intention when he set up his company, but the diversity is now proving a protection in difficult times.

As he says: “In the theatre, there are just so many extraneous factors. Between April 10 and May 10, we had four bank holidays, we had the hottest April on record and we even had a Royal Wedding. We virtually didn’t sell a ticket. In any normal year that wouldn’t have been the case.”

Even worse was that he going into it on the back of the snowiest of panto seasons: “We did four pantos. In Chesterfield and Arbroath, the snow was knee deep. Someone says the snow was knee deep and you just think ‘Oh, yeah’. But I went to Chesterfield, and the snow really was knee deep. People just couldn’t get in from the outlying villages.

“We’ve really had the two extremes - panto affected by the snow and then the hottest April on record. We managed to get back on a better footing and then it all went to the opposite extreme in April.”

But he’s hoping that The Jungle Book should change all that. Nothing is ever a sure-fire winner, but he’s got hopes for the show - a perfect combination of familiar fun at the right time of year.

“The titles that have been Disneyfied to tend to appeal. It’s a known subject. There are a few other productions around that are probably nearer to the book and are a bit darker. Ours is a bit more towards Disney - though you have got to be careful. You can’t plagiarise Disney. You can use up to three songs but understandably, you can’t just completely crib the plot.”

Tickets on 01903 206206.