Charlie Chaplin remembered at historic Selsey venue

A major new community production could be a sign of things to come as the Pavilion in Selsey returns to its entertainments role.

After success with a show commemorating R C Sheriff’s Selsey connections last year, Arts Dream Selsey return to the Pavilion this summer with a show marking the 100th anniversary of Charlie Chaplin’s Little Tramp character. Tonight at the Pavilion… Charlie Chaplin will be at the venue from August 5-11 at 7.30pm (with 4pm matinees on August 8 and 9) – a collaboration between writer Gillian Plowman, scenographer Pamela Howard and producer/choreographer Chris Butler. Between them, they are hoping for a repeat of the sell-out success they enjoyed last year.

“It’s an original piece,” says Chris. “We are bringing the Charlie Chaplin story back to the old Pavilion Theatre, Selsey. We wanted to celebrate the centenary of the Little Tramp and also bring the Pavilion back to theatrical life for a second time.

“It was an excellent venue last year. It was such a good production. It was a sell-out, and we had a lot of great critical acclaim. It worked because it is the original building. It has a lot of heritage. It has got history so that when people are in there they remember what it was like years and years ago. It closed as a cinema in 1960, but before that there used to be a lot of theatrical productions there, things like the Russian ballet coming to Selsey!”

The Selsey Pavilion is an iconic building in the centre of Selsey. Built in 1913, it was part of the South Coast Theatres Touring Circuit, and many famous performers graced its hall and stage, including Sophie Tucker. Improvements are planned, enabling an iconic building to be restored as a performance space, cinema and function hall for the community.

“Jeff Alan, the owner of the building, is very lucky to have got a business development grant from West Sussex County Council, so the idea is that there will be a major refurbishment of the Pavilion, really as a community venue, as a venue that can be used for lots of theatrical presentations and for community events and for community choirs. There has been some work done on refurbishment. The idea is that it will be restored eventually. There is nothing like it in Selsey. It wouldn’t be for huge, huge shows, but it would be absolutely ideal for small-scale things coming here and for the community to use.”

As for Chaplin: “All Charlie Chaplin’s films would have been shown at the Pavilion. He didn’t come to Selsey, but the films were shown there and delighted the Selsey residents. Lots of people remember seeing the films there, and Jeff Alan is an avid collector of Chaplin memorabilia. There are some original life-sized statues of Charlie Chaplin and other vaudeville characters. He has got a lot of movie paraphernalia there.

“The piece is about an elderly Chaplin looking back on his life and his reflections on what happened to him from 1915 through to the 1950s. It’s about the relationships he had with different women and about some of the things that happened to him. It’s a very poignant story that has been unfolded by Gillian. As part of it, we will be showing quite a lot of excerpts from Chaplin films. It’s a multi-media show.”

Tickets from Highhouse Insurance Services, 121 High Street, Selsey and www.ticketsource.co.uk.

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