October 24 2014 Latest news:
Monday, August 25, 2014
Norwich Theatre Royal lifted the curtain on its secrets, as youngsters enjoyed a rare glimpse behind the scenes.
Ordinarily members of the public must watch on from the audience –with even some members of staff strictly forbidden from going backstage.
But more than people 2,000 seized the opportunity to learn more about the magic of theatre at the venue’s annual open day on Saturday.
Peter Wilson, chief executive of Norwich Theatre Royal, revealed this year had been busier than ever.
“It’s been astounding,” he said.
Queues for face-painting did not relent all day, such was its popularity, and theatre staff enjoyed chatting to guests.
“It enables us to speak to people in ways we can’t normally,” said Mr Wilson. “They then come back for the pantomime and to kids’ shows.”
And he joked: “Every year there’s a new generation, which is why I look so old!”
The open day was held after the 1,300-seat theatre had “gone dark” for a fortnight.
This refers to the period when no shows are held, to give staff the chance to clean everything – taking down and dusting all the lights – and carrying out thorough safety checks including on the fly ropes, which are used to move the larger props on stage.
Guided tours explained some of the technical side of things, from the computerised lighting and sound desks to special screens which show actors what is going on beneath the stage.
The main stage was thronging with children singing into microphones - playing through the theatre’s sound-system – frolicking in bursts of dry ice and tinkering with pulleys to move curtains.
People were also able to peer inside the star dressing-rooms – where the likes of Dame Edna Everage have prepared for shows – and to try out a host of games.
There were also talks on the history of the art-deco theatre, stories about past pantomimes and chocolate tasting.
Away from the stage, people were told of the education work done by the theatre, how it provides services such as sign-language, captioning and audio descriptions and how it works hard to be a green and eco-friendly venue.
The Theatre Royal is now looking forward to its Peter Pan pantomime this Christmas, and its programme of shows starts again this week.
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