Feeling the magic at Baytree Garden Centre in Weston

0
Have your say

If there is a recipe for creating magic dust Paul Hammond and his family have exactly the right formula.

And they have been scattering rather large piles of the delightful stuff at what they call Baytree Theatre, a large room at Baytree Garden Centre in Weston.

Choreographer  Pippa Higgs, assistant director Joshua Hammond, co-ordinator Audrey Hammon. Photo: SG250516-111TW

Choreographer Pippa Higgs, assistant director Joshua Hammond, co-ordinator Audrey Hammon. Photo: SG250516-111TW

Paul Hammond operates the production company Hammond Feel the Magic, putting on shows telling some of our classic fairy tales for audiences all over the world.

Since February, some of the stories have been told closer to home, with performances at Weston of Jungle Book, Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan, which was shown to thousands of children during the May half-term holiday.

“The children come and make such a noise, they just get so engrossed in it,” says Paul, who admits to loving putting on the shows locally – and meeting kids dressed up in characters’ costumes.

He says it is an expensive operation for him, yet he intentionally keeps ticket prices at an affordable price for local theatre-goers.

Indians Elesha Cowley, Rebecca Ostler, Melissa Bravo, Connie Alford, Katrina Baird.Photo: SG250516-108TW

Indians Elesha Cowley, Rebecca Ostler, Melissa Bravo, Connie Alford, Katrina Baird.Photo: SG250516-108TW

Paul says: “It’s not about making money at Baytree, it’s about me giving back to people because over the years I have had millions of people see my products and hear my music.”

And over the years there has been a large output, starting with working as a holiday park singer, to producing and putting on shows, such as the Home & Away musical tour Paul put together in a matter of weeks after sticking his neck out and saying he already had it in the bag.

Then there were the pantos, beginning with three and building up to 26 all over the country, as well as the work for Haven Holidays.

Paul describes the performances he scripted for these as on a par with West End musicals, and says within six months they were being performed in 42 holiday parks.

Kevin Tillett as Captain Hook. Photo: SG250516-110TW

Kevin Tillett as Captain Hook. Photo: SG250516-110TW

He also developed the Bradley Bear show for Haven Holidays, put on shows for Wicksteed Park and Drayton Manor – he still writes the shows for Thomas Land.

It all sounds glamorous but the workload – writing music and stories as well as designing costumes – nearly killed Paul and cost him his marriage.

He had moved to Pinchbeck, turned his back on theatre and re-trained as a financial adviser when his son Josh and nephew Jordan persuaded Paul to start taking shows overseas.

Baytree is where these productions are tried out first, and at them Paul’s 81-year-old mum Audrey, who also lives in Pinchbeck, gets involved in front of house – so she is the first person the public meet.

Catch one of the shows at Baytree. With scripts written by Paul, they have their own unique brand of magic.