A chat with Jenny, a Princess Theatre volunteer
The Princess Theatre is undeniably a staple in Hunstanton and underpins the entertainment sector in the town. Town & Around chats with Jenny Chapman, a volunteer steward about her role in supporting the beloved theatre.
Being a part of the Princess family since 2012, Jenny is a longstanding and seasoned steward. Explaining her role, Jenny says: “Our main priority is for the health and safety of the audience. To make sure their experience of the theatre is good, and to answer any questions. A good sense of humour and patience is good to have. Your eyes are everywhere and checking for any situations arising.”
“It suits people of any generation really but we tend to attract the older lot who have got more time, are retired, or are looking for something to do within the community. You get to know the locals. If I’m on the bus I get people coming up saying ‘Lovely show last night!’”
One of the busiest times in the year is pantomime season, with there often being two shows a day, one for visiting schools during the daytime and for the general public in the evening. Another busy period is summer, and as we are coming up to the summer season Jenny notes the importance of tourism to the town: “We’re only a small town. We’re reliant on holidaymakers as well to make the town viable.”
A definite perk to the job is that you often get to meet the celebrities that perform and you get to see the shows for free. There is a varied mixture of genres. Jenny says: “There are beautiful shows—my favourite is 60s music. We’ve had Joe Brown, Marty Wilde (who’s coming again) and Jim Davidson. More for my generation. And I actually met them—and they’re genuinely such nice people.”
There is an undercurrent of camaraderie with the team at the Princess, as Jenny explains: “We’re a team here—like a family team. Everyone gets on with each other. As they say, there is no I in team. We all help each other.”
With only ten current volunteers and with sell-out shows often needing at least six stewards to support each show, Jenny urges for anyone interested in giving it a go to get in touch. She says: “It’s a nice thing to put back into the community—so if anyone would like to volunteer we’d like to see them. The theatre does rely on the volunteers.” You can come into the theatre or ring them up on 01485 532252 for more information on how to get involved.
Previously a hotel, the Princess first opened in 1932 as a theatre. It was built from Norfolk Carrstone and it contains the largest gable wall of Carrstone in existence today. Changing hands and being left derelict a few times throughout the years the theatre was eventually bought by Hunstone Productions in 2012 who maintain its running today. Famous visitors include Princess Diana who visited the theatre with sons William and Harry.