Monday, 14 May 2007

My locally generated story-Blackpool Grand Theatre

Blackpool’s Grand Theatre is to close its doors for 5 weeks during the summer months as it undergoes £550,000 of refurbishment.

The work will see the theatre’s interior revert to its original colour of royal blue and will include the installation of wider and more comfortable seating and the fitting of a new carpet as well as the provision of more disabled facilities

The work has been planned for two years and has been financed by a cross section of organisations, including friends of the theatre, trusts, fundraising events and local businesses.

The project has been named after Mr Sam Lee who was the Chairman of the Grand Theatre Trust from 1993 until his death in 2003. The Theatre has worked closely with the Heritage Trust in choosing the designs for the new interior.

The new seats have been manufactured in Europe and the design, based on V.I.P cinema seats, will be sold to six other Frank Matcham theatres across the country.

Once finished, the Grand believes that it will become one of the most comfortable heritage theatres in the country.

The decision to shut the Theatre during the summer months reflects the changing patterns of tourism in the resort. According to Sarah Jane Wright,the theatre’s press officer , “summer shutting makes sense”

“Last years summer was poor. Most visitors were day trippers who stayed for the matinee but shunned the traditional long running features”.

The audience has become more locally based and loyal. The busiest seasons for the theatre are now the spring and autumn.

This year the re opening will mark the start of the new season which traditionally ran until late autumn but will now start in August.

The theatre, a grade II listed building was built in 1894,and was the venue for stars such as Sarah Bernhart , Lillie Langtry, Gracie Fields, Sir John Gielgud and Arthur Askey.

It was saved from demolition in 1975 by the friends of the Grand and Blackpool council and reopened its doors in 1981.This will be the first time those doors have closed since that time..

The theatre will reopen with a gala performance of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical South Pacific.

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