Well, that’s it!
The ABF Charity Concert on Sunday, October 7, was the last in our beloved Festival Theatre for some 18 months until it reopens following renovation and renewal.
Don’t worry there will be a ‘Pavilion in the Park’ presenting a 2013 Festival Season with plays and a musical.
This pavilion will have some 1,400 seats and be air-conditioned and, of course, the 283-seat Minerva (shut this winter because of building disruption) will re-open to be part of this 2013 Festival season and, I hope, remain open for autumn/winter 2013/14.
So what is happening?
Inside the auditorium there will be nearly 100 extra seats in the gallery above the stage on the sides where fire precautions previously closed them, using the two new, much larger, lifts.
The rear stalls rake will be increased slightly to accommodate the air-conditioning below and there will be hand-holds to aid walking down the aisles.
The seats will be recovered with, I hope, much larger seat numbers on them, and two of the aisles will be slightly truncated.
Otherwise it stays much the same although there will be renewed heating (currently a Bunsen burner and a fan!) and air-conditioning through the auditorium.
The front of house will be substantially different, with twice as many toilets, now on both sides and the cafe/bar space is being increased, and the carpeted area changing and the box office and main entrance moving.
The main changes are, however, behind the scenes: the aforementioned disabled lifts; the current dressing rooms, mostly without windows and below the stage, are moving to be level with the stage and have windows; the two-step, 18-inch drop, down which every single piece of stage scenery has to be man-handled, is being levelled, thank goodness, and the whole rear of the stage improved.
The offices will be on the ground floor below the dressing rooms as part and parcel of our lovely theatre – I can’t wait till it re-opens somewhere around May/June in 2014, so I’m contributing, will you?
Roger MJ Keyworth