Major entertainment stars lined up for the Preston Guild Hall

Stars: Comic Alan Carr and (below) singer Russell Watson are on their way

Stars: Comic Alan Carr and (below) singer Russell Watson are on their way

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Less than a month after the keys were officially handed over, the new owners of Preston’s Guild Hall have already secured some major players in the entertainment world.

BAFTA and British Comedy Award winning comedian, author and chat show supremo Alan Carr will be yapping his way to Preston l in May next year with his brand new stand up show ‘Yap, Yap, Yap!’ as part of his 120 date tour.

Russell Watson

Russell Watson

While familiar face, Russell Watson, following the huge success of last year’s ‘A Concert for Katy’ in aid of the Katy Holmes Trust, will return to the Guild Hall to celebrate 15 years as a recording artist .

Richard Simkin, head of major operations for The Villa Group said: “We have had these names in the pipeline for some time and have been in talks for weeks with most of the artists.

“And we have pencilled in some big names that cover theatre, music and drama - certainly a few names that perhaps the council couldn’t secure.”

While comedy and music are well taken care of, after five years in the West End and sell-out runs worldwide the team at the Guild Hall will welcome musical theatre show, Avenue Q to their stage next year.

Richard said: “This show is exactly the kind of top quality production we want to bring back to Preston.

“We have done our research and discovered what it is that audiences want.

“If they’re going to be paying £15-£25 on average for a ticket, they want to see a quality show, especially now that Christmas is coming up and that money could be used elsewhere.”

Richard adds that while the big names will certainly draw people in, the new owners are keen to stress that amateur acts will still be supported.

He said: “Of course we will be going for this big name acts but amateur dramatic societies are still very important because people will want to see their community being represented.”

The takeover move saw both the 780 seat Charter Theatre and the 2034 seat Grand Hall move away from Preston City Council and into the hands of local entrepreneur Simon Rigby and the Villa Group.

The new-look Guild Hall will also include five different restaurants including tapas and Italian.