The Georgian Theatre Royal’s new comfortable seating has been unveiled.
The Richmond venue is reopening its doors this week for guided tours and visitors will be able to take a first glimpse of the auditorium, which has undergone a major development programme during lockdown.
Thanks to a £375,000 donation from the Hamish Ogston Foundation, the historic venue has been able to use the closure period to complete an ambitious capital works project to provide new comfortable seating and improved views of the stage.
The three-tier, courtyard-style auditorium has also been completely re-decorated, new stage and auditorium lighting has been installed, and a mural depicting a lively Georgian audience is an additional feature behind the boxes.
Further grants from the Theatres Trust, the Pilgrim Trust, the Foyle Foundation and the Normanby Trust have also meant that the theatre has been able to replace old boilers and install a modern Building Management System.
This has been done alongside the auditorium work and will greatly improve both the effectiveness and efficiency of the ventilation and heating in the Grade I Listed building.
Guided back-stage tours start on Thursday, May 20 with the autumn season of shows scheduled to take place from September.
“After many months of hard work behind the scenes, we are delighted to be able to unveil our improved auditorium,” said Clare Allen, theatre chief executive.
“The Theatre really does look fantastic and we are incredibly grateful to all the organisations and individuals who have enabled us to turn a potentially ‘dark’ period into one of positive productivity.
“The new seating not only perfectly complements the heritage of the building but the extra legroom, padded cushions and back supports will greatly enhance the Theatre experience for our audiences, as will the ability to provide better air quality and a well-regulated temperature.
“The guided tours are always very popular with tourists but we are hoping that locals and Theatre regulars will also come along and see what we have achieved, ahead of our re-opening for live performances in September,” she added.
The Georgian Theatre Experience visits include a full guided tour of the auditorium, dressing rooms and stage, as well as access to the exhibition area, which features the Woodland Scene – Britain’s oldest surviving stage scenery painted between 1818 and 1836 – as well as old playbills, pantomime props and Georgian costumes.
Tours will run on the hour from 10am until 4pm from Monday to Saturday.
Visitors do not need to book for tours but groups of more than four people are asked to call ahead of their visit on 01748 825252 to make sure that numbers for each tour do not exceed the viable limit for effective social distancing.
Entrance costs are only £5 per adult and £2 for children with tickets valid for 12 months to enable repeat visits. The Georgian Theatre Experience can be accessed from the main entrance of the Theatre on Victoria Road.
For further information, contact 01748 825252 or visit www.georgiantheatreroyal.co.uk