Theatre Royal main house shuts for £3m facelift
The Theatre Royal has shut its main house for a two-month facelift.
Big changes are taking place to both the structure and the look and feel of the building to bring facilities up to 21st century standards and reflect its reputation and place among Bath’s most important historic buildings.
For months the restorers and builders have been working behind the scenes, trying to cause as little disruption as possible while the shows went on as usual.
But when the curtain came down at the weekend, all that changed.
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The main house is now closed and it is all systems go to finish the £3 million transformation in time for the grand reopening with a performance of Sheridan’s The Rivals starring Penelope Keith and Peter Bowles on September 7.
The theatre’s complete refurbishment will be visible the moment anyone looks at it as they stand in the Saw Close car park.
The box office so that the third front entrance door can be unblocked to allow easier access into the building. Three doors will allow patrons to see and be seen as they enter the newly renovated theatre, whose building dates back to the 18th century.
The whole structure is being cleaned but the front facade, parts of which have been covered with paint and are badly damaged, will be renovated and restored, revealing ancient decorations to present one of the most glamorous facades of any building in Bath.
There will be soft new exterior lighting to create a ‘wow’ factor as people approach the theatre from across Saw Close.
Inside will be a new box office, a new lift for disabled people, fresh paintwork, carpets, and lighting along with new bar areas.
One of those will be for the stalls and will be created from old vaulted cellars which have for years been hidden away behind plastered-over doors.
The whole plan is to give a luxurious feel to the theatre and, while bringing it bang into the 21st century, to also retain the historic details that make it one of the best loved playhouses in the world.
The main difficulty with the whole building project – and this is the first time there has been a major refurbishment for 30 years – has been the need to do so much of the work while the building was still in use.
Although much of the work has already been done – they’ve even already checked the new exterior lighting to see that it all works – there is plenty more ahead.
As one of the team behind the project said: “Not being ready on time is not an option. The theatre reopens on September 7 with tickets already sold and so, as they say, the show must go on.”
Derek Quinn, executive director of contractor Midas Interiors, said: “Refurbishing historic buildings and providing them with contemporary facilities is always a challenge, particularly when the work is undertaken in a live environment.
“Enabling works have been undertaken while maintaining the theatre’s daily operation.”
Architect Richard Collis of Bath-based Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, added: “The refurbishment project will give a new lease of life to the historic fabric of the building, improve the access, circulation and facilities available to staff, patrons and users, offer more comfortable conditions within the auditorium and reduce its energy usage and carbon footprint.”
Theatre director Danny Moar is thrilled with the changes that he can already see taking shape.
“The planned two-month closure in July and August makes it possible for the refurbishment work to be completed in time for the start of the new season. When audiences visit us in the autumn, our renovation will be complete and the Theatre Royal will be looking more beautiful than ever.”
To book tickets for the theatre’s opening production, call the box office on 011225 448844.