By MARK BOGGIS
Friday, September 14, 2012
IT has been a busy six weeks for staff and volunteers at Lowestoft’s biggest theatre.
But dreams will be realised when the curtain goes up tonight.
The new-look Marina Theatre will be unveiled for the first time – and locals are being promised the “wow factor”.
The main auditorium has been completely refurbished as part of a £250,000 project, which represents the first significant investment in the Edwardian venue for almost a quarter of a century.
In recent weeks it has been a hive of activity – despite being closed for their summer break – as teams of contractors, theatre staff and volunteers work around the clock to prepare it for the reopening.
And tonight the world famous Royal Philharmonic Orchestra will perform in the newly-refurbished surroundings.
The Marina Theatre Trust, which took over the management of the 750-seat venue last December, has been planning the refurbishment for several months in partnership with Waveney District Council.
In addition to new carpets, a new colour scheme and improved seating, major improvements have been made to the Marina’s technical areas and a new stage equipment loading area has also been created.
A new ground floor café and box office will also open today, with a digital 3D cinema to be unveiled in the autumn.
Theatre chief executive Martin Halliday has been managing the project.
He said: “The restoration work to the main auditorium looks absolutely stunning and we cannot wait for our patrons to see what has been achieved.”
The trust’s chairman, Hazel Clover, added: “We are absolutely thrilled with it – it looks absolutely fantastic,”
Although theatregoers will enjoy the comfort of the new-look surroundings and state-of-the-art seats – as used in Lotus cars – Mr Halliday said the heritage of the building had been maintained.
The trust worked with local contractors and renowned theatre architect John Muir, who gave his services for free.
Mr Halliday said: “We have uncovered so many beautiful features that had been hidden – and we have wanted to preserve that. We have a fantastic new auditorium, and we have embarked on the next stage of our appeal.”
As well as the refurbishment, the Marina recently launched the £100,000 Next Stage appeal to fund a proposed expansion, which would see a link created with the former Zenith call centre next door.
Mr Halliday said: “People have already been very generous... I have been astounded by the support we’ve had.”
In conjunction with the council, a new PA system has been also installed, and Mr Halliday said: “We are very excited about the opening and when the house lights go on, well you won’t recognise the place – it really does have the wow factor. We have a fantastic venue here in Lowestoft and now it has had the TLC it has needed for a quarter of a century, it really has the potential to continue.”
An open day, with free tours of the building, will be held tomorrow.
●To book seats for any Marina Theatre event, please call the box office on 01502 533200.