Theatre Royal 'good to go' for 40 years after £7m facelift
A revamped theatre is good for 40 years after a £7 million update, the venue's chief executive has said.
The Theatre Royal Plymouth reopens tonight after being closed since April for the regeneration project.
A new entrance and box office, level access, bigger lobby, larger shop and cafe area, an outdoor terrace and an extended restaurant now greets visitors.
Drastically improved insulation has been put in, plus a third stage, The Lab, for community and education work.
The money had been well spent, said chief executive Adrian Vinken.
"It is good to go now for another 40 years before any major intervention," he said.
The Arts Council gave £5m for the work – on condition the theatre found the remaining £2m. The city council brought forward three years of annual grants to secure the Arts Council money. In effect, the theatre then had to make what it had "lost" in current expenditure from the city council.
Mr Vinken revealed that the theatre had now raised nearly £1.9m towards that £2m funding gap.
About £0.5m came from the theatre's reserves. Grants from trusts and charities, corporate giving and private donations have brought in about £1.4m.
"The response from Plymouth and the South West, from businesses and individuals has been overwhelming," he said.
"We have had pensioners giving £5 a month and the biggest personal donation we have ever had: £50,000. We feel grateful and humbled."
Political drama Fight Night, by award-winning Belgium company Ontroerend Goed is the first production into the theatre, in the second space, the Drum.
The Lyric – the new name for the theatre's main stage – opens tomorrow with War Horse. The city venue is opening the UK and Ireland tour of the multi-award-winning National Theatre production, based on the book by Devon author Michael Morpurgo.
Builders BAM Construct UK have been working flat out to finish on time.
Mr Vinken said: "The contractor was honest with us from the start that the schedule was very tight. We always had a contingency plan to get the audience in and out even if everything was not quite finished."
The £7 million regeneration of the 31-year-old theatre follows a £2.5 million refurbishment of the auditoriums in 2005.
"The work in the theatres was always of the highest quality but outside the auditoriums (after the 2005 work) the theatre had a tired feel," he said. "There was a sense of decline creeping in. This regeneration project has changed that.
"I have seen two new regional theatres that have opened in Britain and this knocks them into a cocked hat. This has put us 10 or 15 years ahead of the game," said Mr Vinken.