In my opinion: Plymouth's Theatre Royal eclipses other West venues
I was very interested to read this article (January 16 – Theatre in city centre would boost trade) regarding a new theatre in the centre of Exeter.
This is exactly what Exeter needs. Exeter has a retail sector that draws people from some distance and a vast array of luxury to budget hotels – what of night life?
The Northcott theatre had its zenith in the late 70s/early 80s when Theatre Director Digby Day put it on the UK map having its own company putting on superb productions with well-known stars often in guest key roles.
Sadly in recent years it has become dwarfed by the Theatre Royal, Plymouth, which we have been going to three to five times per year since October 1981 and seeing the best the world has to offer, at Westcountry prices! When James Corden appeared in Two Men One Guvnor we had front row seats in the stalls for £23. The price in London when the show moved was £83 for the same seats!
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Other venues in Exeter are good, but limited to what they can show.
Not only does Plymouth have the Theatre Royal (and The Drum, a smaller theatre) but also the Plymouth Pavilions the largest venue in the region for international singers and others. The Corn Exchange and The Great Hill do not have capacities for such shows for such stars or busy acceptability.
Although Exeter City Council says Torquay and Plymouth have theatres, that is of academic interest if you are staying for a few days in the 15/20 luxury budget hotel in Exeter and you want to go to a local big theatre. Exeter services a population area that equals Plymouth and the arts that support.
Local people in South East and North Devon would use a theatre in Exeter as would a large part of Somerset and Dorset.
The Theatre Royal Plymouth has become an icon of excellence with around 89 per cent seat capacity throughout the year! In economic terms it is number three in the UK with the National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Theatre ahead of it. With TR2 it produces sets for the world's big theatrical events. Matthew Bowne always premiers his new productions in Plymouth first! In the spring the Theatre Royal Plymouth is to close for a few months for Phase 2 of its development to reopen for War Horse in the autumn. So let Exeter have its own major theatre (it had a Theatre Royal at the junction of Longbrook Street and New North Road until the early 60s) which will benefit the economy and complement other facilities.