Worthing’s theatre manager says goodbye

Peter Bailey
Peter Bailey

THE man who manages Worthing’s theatres has brought down the curtain on his successful 30-year career.

Peter Bailey has led the cast of staff across the town’s theatres since 1982.

He started off in theatre in London when he was 20, working in West End and musical venues.

Peter, 60, said: “Bizarrely, I decided theatre was for me because I didn’t want a nine-to-five job and thought it would mean working evenings and weekends.

“Well, in fact, what I do more is now that kind of day job, but it’s one where no two weeks are ever the same.”

Peter worked behind the scenes, taking on challenges with vision and lighting and backstage dramas before gaining more experience in the administration and front-of-house side of theatres.

He said: “That’s when theatre got under my skin. When the job for assistant theatres manager came up in Worthing I jumped at the chance and started here when I was about 26, before moving into the role of theatres manager in 1982.”

Of all the stars and shows Peter has brought to Worthing, the funniest moment for him was when a sea lion made a dash for the shore.

He said: “We used to stage a circus show at the Pavilion over Christmas, in the years before panto. A big lorry would bring about six sea lions into town and their trainers would walk them around the side of the Pavilion.

One year, one of the sea lions took a liking to the sea and jumped in – soon after, the trainer stripped and went in after it. It was hilarious.”

Peter’s other memories include times stars have not turned up on time for their shows, leaving staff fretting it might be a no-show.

“Luckily, there’s always been a support act, or the star has arrived in the nick of time, but that’s theatre for you,” he said.

Attracting 50,000 people to see Worthing’s pantomimes last Christmas was a highlight of Peter’s career.

He added: “We work as a team at the theatres and everyone is so committed. I was going to retire in January but with so much uncertainty over the future of the theatres, I decided to stay on to support a revamped business plan for the future. I hope people will continue to drive the theatres forward for the town.”

The dad-of-three will officially retire on August 15.

He plans to spend his retirement travelling with wife Sue, spend time gardening and continue his avid support of Brighton and Hove Albion.